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  • Angela Allyn

Get out of your house into the real world with WHIMsy

Updated: Jul 10, 2022

4 stars

June 29, 2022

Stage 773, formerly known as the Theatre Building for us old-timers, has reinvented itself in a charming new way as WHIM, an immersive cocktail experience. Born of the isolation of Covid and providing much-needed work for stage, set, and prop designing artists coming out of the Virtual and Onscreen production age where their creativity was underutilized, the newly altered space is reminiscent of our dearly departed Redmoon Theatre's pop-ups, and it's a feast for the eyes, ears and taste buds. It is a true testament to the old adage: When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade (or, in this case, a custom-made cocktail!)

The heart of WHIM in its current manifestation is an imaginative cocktail menu. My mixologist Ryan performed one of the signature drinks: The Chain Smoker, a mezcal-based concoction that requires actual fire and serves up a garnish of wafting smoke. Many of the cocktails can be enjoyed as a Mocktail, including the Fluffy Punch, which is topped with cotton candy! I tried the Yummy Tummy without its gin, and it is a beautiful summer drink featuring blood orange juice, rosemary, ginger, and turmeric. Wandering through the environments with arched booths of found objects and a constellation of toys, many of which were collected through obsessive visits to estate sales, I am struck by the handcrafted, meticulous, and artfully crafted nature of the environment and the menu. Whim is a work in progress: for the opening night, there was one room open with a live set by a trio that spanned the jazz/cabaret/pop spectrum with ease. There are multiple phases planned, including performances, game nights, and a regular live music schedule.

Right now, when you are longing for a multisensory experience in the real world with living humans, not on screens, check out Chicago’s most theatrical cocktail lounge. WHIM is at 1225 West Belmont. Hours are Wednesday through Thursday from 6 pm to midnight, Friday through Saturday from 5 pm to 2 am, and Sunday from noon to 8 pm. Don't forget to sign up for the mailing list to see what develops in this fun Real World space.

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