LOGAN SQUARE — After a long pandemic closure, The Whistler is getting back to what it does best: slinging cocktails — and hosting live shows.
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the popular Logan Square cocktail bar at 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave. is reopening to patrons Sept. 29, debuting a new cocktail menu and live music schedule.
The owners are rolling out safety protocols for the reopening: Staff will be checking for proof of vaccination at the door. All patrons and staff will be required to wear masks indoors. And the bar’s capacity will be reduced by 25 percent.
Throughout the pandemic, co-owners Billy Helmkamp and Rob Brenner have sold to-go cocktails and advocated for independent music venues as co-founders of CIVL and founding members of NIVA. But all along, The Whistler has sat empty — even as Sleeping Village, the owners’ second establishment, reopened.
Soon, though, The Whistler will welcome its first guests in 564 days, Helmkamp said.
“We’ve been taking an extremely cautious approach with reopening, as we have with everything since the pandemic hit — and a basement flood in late June set us back a ways, as well — but the bottom line is that we wanted to reopen on our own terms, in a way that we feel is safe, when we felt comfortable welcoming people back into The Whistler,” Helmkamp said in an email.
When it opens, the cozy cocktail bar will have a new head bartender: Alex Barbatsis, who came to Chicago by way of Los Angeles, where he worked at spots like Rivera and Good Housekeeping. Barbatsis has concocted dozens of cocktails for The Whistler’s reopening, the owners said in a news release.
“The Whistler was the first bar I visited when I moved to Chicago,” Barbatsis said in the release. “When I saw how they approached craft cocktails, the dedication to the quality and inventiveness of each one, I knew I wanted to join the team. I can’t wait to have our neighbors back at the bar to show them the incredible lineup of drinks we’ve been working on.”
Just like it was before the pandemic shutdown, live music will be a big part of The Whistler when it reopens. The bar will host nightly performances, including “wild card” sets on Thursdays and resident DJs on Fridays and Saturdays. The owners are also bringing back the Relax Attack Jazz Series on Wednesdays. For a full live music schedule, visit the bar’s website.
Down the road, The Whistler will also resume art installations and pop-ups.
The reopening comes right before the bar’s 13th anniversary.
“Over the past decade, we’ve constantly evolved and challenged ourselves while staying true to our concept and sticking to our mission of supporting local arts. After everything the hospitality and arts communities have been through in the past 18 months, we consider ourselves more than lucky to have the opportunity to re-open our doors on the week of our 13th anniversary,” Helmkamp said.
“We can’t wait to safely welcome back our friends and neighbors for some good times and great drinks.”
Beginning Sept. 29, The Whistler will be open 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
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