Tikiphiles Rejoice: Paul McGee And The Melman Brothers To Open A Tiki Bar

By Anthony Todd in Food on Feb 10, 2012 3:20PM

2011_6_22tradervics.jpeg Ever since Paul McGee announced he was leaving The Whistler, rumors have swirled about what exactly he was going to do next. We knew he was joining up with Lettuce Entertain You, and we had heard something about a country bar with the Melman boys. Frankly, a country bar (no matter how good the whiskey list) didn't really get us cocktail nerds going, so our attention waned. Imagine our newfound excitement when we heard that half of the project was going to be a brand new Tiki Bar!

McGee has been a promoter of tiki-style cocktails for years, and we've enjoyed his tiki nights at the Whistler. Tiki in Chicago, aside from those brief moments at The Whistler, has been in something of a deep freeze since Trader Vic's closed last year. Looks like the rum, umbrellas, fruit juices and palm fronds are coming back. Below the country-themed bar will be "a sophisticated 4,000 square foot Tiki lounge" where visitors can "enjoy classic drinks featuring fresh-squeezed juices and other exotic ingredients." The tiki bar (no name yet) will have it's own private entrance, and supposedly will boast the city's most extensive rum collection.

To assuage the fears of those accustomed to Melman properties like Sub 51 and Studio Paris, this will not be a nightclub, nor will the focus be on the scene. McGee told Time Out Chicago that the tiki bar will be serious about the quality of the drinks (we wouldn't expect anything less) and R.J. Melman emphasized that, unlike nightclubs, bars are "inclusive."

We couldn't be more excited about this. One of the best mixers in the city, with a serious personal love for tiki drinks, will be mixing up our Royal Hawaiians, Mai Tais and whatever else he comes up with. Plus, we don't have to feign enthusiasm about yet another pre-prohibition style cocktail bar with arm-banded mixologists. You can bet we'll be there on opening night.

The new bar will be located at 435 N. Clark Street.