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North Shore Distillery Expands Tasting Room With Style And Panache

By Anthony Todd in Food on Sep 9, 2013 6:00PM

Photo by Seth Anderson

North Shore Distillery is the rare spirit-maker that has put a lot of thought into their tasting room. So often, at the end of a distillery tour, you stand around a dusty room sipping straight, room-temperature liquor out of plastic cups. At North Shore, they built a full bar and tasting room two years ago, and it's been so successful, they've now expanded it.

"We found that we were having times where we didn't have enough seats!" explained owner Sonja Kassebaum. "We looked pretty hard at moving, actually, but didn't find a good space, so we decided to expand." The expansion opened up earlier in the summer, complete with outdoor seating, a larger bar area and a new cocktail menu.

In addition to tastings of their spirits, either individually or in flights, North Shore Distillery is now the only craft cocktail bar in that part of the northern burbs. "We've worked hard with the bars in our area to get them on board with using fresh ingredients and making high quality cocktails, but it's still rare in these parts," said Kassebaum. "It's another way to help beat that drum about 'let's all drink better.'" Cocktails are all made with North Shore spirits, and include some classic cocktails and some "Sonja's Specials" that are a bit more challenging. All drinks are $10, which includes tax and tip. They've also serving "bottle service"—but these aren't the $400 bottles of bad vodka you may have seen on menus before. These are bottles of homemade punch, served in an ice bucket. Four servings cost $22.

There's no food at the tasting room, but you can bring just about anything you want. Some visitors will bring cheese and meat platters or order pizzas. The crowd is a mix of distillery tourists and regulars, and the place has morphed from a showcase for the products into a real watering hole. On Saturdays, they still hold distillery tours, in case you want some education to go along with your booze. If you're looking for a private party space, they will rent the entire distillery and tasting room for special events.

If you haven't made the trek up to Lake Bluff, now's the time. Check out the complete menu below, but beware: the menu will change soon for fall. Call ahead if you're worried about a particular drink being available.

North Shore Distillery is at 28913 N Herky Dr #308, Lake Bluff, IL. The cocktail bar is open Friday nights from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

North Shore Distillery Cocktail Menu Late Summer 2013