Although Whiskey Thief Tavern, a local Evanston eatery, opened in June 2016, it remains a new name to many locals. After receiving a Facebook invite to a Northwestern University Night and hearing friends rave about this place, I decided to see how Whiskey Thief Tavern stacks up to the other restaurants in Evanston.

The Vibe

I quickly fell in love with the atmosphere. The dimly lit space features a wall of booths made from overside barrels and a library area toward the back. My eyes were drawn to the library, with its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and cozy chairs. 

The wall of mirrors and selection of wall art add a whimsical vibe to the space. Taking center stage is the eye-catching bar, displaying roughly 70 bottles of whiskey that are featured on the menu. Giant televisions line the top of the bar to allow locals to watch sporting events, including Northwestern games -- go 'Cats!

Overall, the restaurant creates a warm, inviting atmosphere that makes you want to linger around after finishing your food. 

The Drinks

liquor, alcohol, cocktail, ice
Alexander Furuya

Whiskey Thief’s drink menu offers an impressive variety of beers and wine; however, I went straight to the cocktail list. At $12 each, these handcrafted drinks seemed pricey, but I realized nearby bars price their drinks at roughly the same price. 

In the name of providing a detailed review, I ignored the fact that it was noon on a Wednesday and ordered two drinks: the Liquid Sunshine, described on the menu as a mixture of “prairie cucumber vodka, cocchi Americano, fresh lemon, lavender hone, sparkling lemon soda and rosemary," and The Thief, which consists of “larceny bourbon, brovo pink vermouth, sherry and Earl Grey bitters."

Liquid Sunshine definitely packs a punch. The taste of alcohol was disguised by the lemon and lavender flavors, with a more sour taste. Light, tangy and refreshing, it's the kind of drink that'll get you into trouble. 

On the other hand, The Thief showcases Whiskey Thief’s expertise with whiskey. This drink went down pretty smoothly, and the notes of Earl Grey mixed well with the bourbon taste. For those who like to taste the alcohol in their drinks, this is an excellent option. 

The Food

pork, cheese
Alexander Furuya

Whiskey Thief describes their menu as “upscale pub food," and the lunch menu features a variety of salads and burgers. Dinner options include pasta, seafood and steak. I ordered the fried calamari appetizer and the Thief Burger.

The fried calamari came with chipotle aioli and marinara for dipping. The breading was crispy and well-seasoned, and it didn’t fall off of the octopus (as that sometimes happens at other places). I thought the chipotle aioli was definitely better than the marinara, but both complemented the calamari.

Topped with white cheddar curds, bacon, pickled red onion, a fried egg and dijonnaise, the Thief Burger is packed with flavor. I thought the fried egg caused the bottom bun to become soggy, but it was a small price to pay for a mouthful of flavor. The cheese also proved to be a mouthwatering twist.

While I enjoyed every messy bite, the size of the burger proved too massive for my stomach. Eating the other half for dinner a few hours later made the $17 price seem much more reasonable.

As a bonus, the burger came with a side of hand-cut fries that proved perfectly seasoned and delicious enough to munch one without ketchup. 

The Final Word

cheese, bun
Alexander Furuya

My prediction: Whiskey Thief is bound to become a staple in the Evanston bar and restaurant scene. Although the food is pretty pricey for the average college student, it's definitely worth trying on a special night out. The drinks and overall environment makes this a great place to venture with friends. 

#SpoonTip: Keep an eye out for Whiskey Thief's special NU Night events with live DJs and free cover until midnight.