If you’re looking for a unique local business for burgers and premium spirits, check out Spears Bourbon, Burgers, and Beer in Wheeling. Located in front of the Westin Chicago North Shore, Spears’ priorities include high quality foods, a huge selection of beer and bourbon, and giving back to the community.
Spears is truly passionate about its bourbon (did you know? It’s only made in the U.S). You can tell Spears is serious about this American spirit, because the restaurant is named after Jacob Spears, the first-known distiller of bourbon – which, by the way, was created in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
Bourbon is made from 51 percent corn mash (or rye or wheat barley), and aged for at least four years in new oak-charred barrels. If you travel the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (kybourbontrail.com), you can visit famous distilleries such as Four Roses, Jim Beam, Makers Mark, and Woodford Reserve. Or, if that’s sadly not on your agenda, you can stop in at Spears to take a tasting tour (via a bourbon flight). More than 200 types of bourbon are available at Spears, including some truly intriguing ones.
The house brand is Woodford Reserve, used for Spears’ Old Fashioned, served with an ice sphere that doesn’t melt as fast as a cube. Spears offers many options of the Kentucky style, which separates itself from the competition by using limestone-filtered water. This process gives the bourbon a flavor found nowhere else. Try the Kentucky-style, or try everything else! The bourbon world is wide and diverse – in terms of geography and flavor, and the people who love it, so you’re sure to find something for you.
One truly unique offering at Spears is the use of a Smoker. This process, done either at your table or at the bar (drawing a crowd every time), uses a form of pipe that lights hickory, cherry, or apple wood chips. The smoke is forced into a glass box with the bourbon glass inside to infuse the bourbon with a richer, smokier flavor. Spears likes to “smoke” J. Henry’s WI Bourbon, a high-quality bourbon with hints of vanilla and caramel, from a Wisconsin distillery that uses locally grown and harvested grains.
If beer is more your style, you’ll be just fine. Spears features 24 constantly-rotating beers on tap, including 6-8 local brews. It’s common to find beers from Half Acre, Revolution, Lagunitas, Founders, and 3 Floyds – all regional or regionally-brewed beers. As with the bourbons, you can get a flight to try more than one in smaller sizes.
As for food, Spears offers a gourmet selection of GMO-free, grass-fed beef burgers, along with wild game burgers and free-range chicken. If you’re bored with the usual suspects, you can try a bison burger for something juicy, low in fat, and lower in environmental impact than burgers made from beef. Or get an elk burger, for a leaner meat, or wild boar topped with Brie and blackberry compote. The hearty flavors of the burgers pair well with the bourbons and craft beers that Spears offers.
Despite the adult drinks, Spears is family friendly, offering Sprecher’s Root Beer, cotton candy, and carnival funnel cake. And, as a local business with a conscience, Spears gives back. Each July, the restaurant holds its 5 Pound Burger Challenge to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. It’s a spectator sport and a charity event – one of many events held here.
Find a place that satisfies your thirst, feeds your hunger, and makes you feel good about supporting local entrepreneurs and communities. Spears Burgers, Bourbon, and Beer is a WCG favorite, located at 723 N. Milwaukee Ave (along Restaurant Row) in Wheeling. For information, visit spearschicago.com or call 847-353-8909.