In Irish gaelic, whiskey is called “uisce beatha” which means ‘water of life’. Whiskey Festival at the beach commanded a generous celebration of whiskey, or ‘water of life’ where participants drank, connected, and became livelier with merriment! The Shore Club provided the beachy backdrop complete with scenes of the stunning skyline and relaxing lake views with September’s crisp weather sparking electricity all around. Green foliage surrounds the perimeter of the space creating a lush tropical beach inspired decor. Towards the back, the bar provides sweeping views of Lake Michigan with the sandy shoreline steps away. Wooden geometric lanterns hang overhead with track lighting providing romantic lighting. Cozy, gray cushioned benches and couches set the stage to mingle with friends while resting from forming lines for all the varieties of whiskey available. Oh, and don’t forget to drink plenty of good old H20 to rehydrate as two giant water containers were refilled consistently. Thank goodness for water as whisky generally contains a minimum of 40% ABV (for those ABV conscious drinkers out there).
Education on the array of whiskey options informed attendees of the differences between American, Irish, Rye, and Bourbon. As whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash, depending on the grains utilized, such as rye, barley, corn or wheat and whether it is aged in a wooden barrel, produces the distinctions. Corn whiskey is also considered moonshine as it is usually not aged and consists of 80% corn. Rye, malted, and wheat whiskey contain at least 51% of rye, malted barley or wheat respectively. Bourbon whiskey is made from a mash of 51% corn and aged in new charred oak barrels.
Tin cups lined many of the booths as that’s how it was done, the old-fashioned way, and is supposed to enhance the flavor of the whiskey. Suggestions on how to drink whiskey include sampling it without any ice or water (‘neat’ is the technical bar term), smelling the whiskey a couple of times before letting it touch your mouth, once you take a small sip have it roll around your mouth before you drink it, and add a splash of water to enhance the flavors, or an ice to chill the whiskey if you prefer it cold. As for the spelling? Whiskey is the Irish and American way. Whisky, no ‘e’, is used in all other whisky producing areas.
Waves of people clamored to get their hands on samples of Jim Beam, Virginia Distillery, Journeyman Distillery, Michigan Traverse Distillery, Crostwater, Wild Turkey, Jack Daniels, Basil Hayden’s, Red Ceder Spirits and more as this is the whiskey festival to be at! When needing to use the restrooms, the only thing that leaves a bit to be desired is the lack of cleanliness as is typical with outdoor types of washrooms. With a few more swigs of whiskey though, it’s hardly noticeable.
Whiskey Festival at the beach is an easy way to get in some drinks while having fun in the sun! Pour some more ‘water of life’ and get your whiskey on! The Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark booth displayed a sign that read “Glasses raised to those who raise your spirits” which is the perfect caption for any drinking occasion. Bottoms up and good vibes only!
For more information and upcoming events check out: River North Fests
Photo Credit: Ryan Modreske of River North Fests