Unlike any other bar that’s opened its doors in Chicago, Phase One of WHIM, an immersive cocktail experience, located at 1225 W Belmont Ave., is officially open to the public. Presented by Stage 773, the over-the-top venue combines a storied history of performative art with inviting and unprecedented libations. WHIM invites guests to partake in a whimsical night out inside a world where all art forms come together – paintings, music, sculpture, street art, and live performance. Snippets of the full WHIM experience, which will feature over 30 distinct spaces for guests, are on display to build anticipation before opening in the coming months.
The adventure begins the minute guests walk into WHIM. Guests are greeted by the stunning visuals of the Lobby of Second Chances, featuring an artistic explosion of creations (both big and small) fashioned out of found objects – giving them a second chance as a one-of-a-kind piece of art. Offering a lively space to lift a glass, celebrate the day, and connect with others, Second Chance also houses the Second Shots Bar, an extension of the lobby, also featuring found art installations. From there, visitors may enjoy the Enchanted Forest, featuring distinct areas inspired by future WHIM spaces, a stage for live performances, and a giant enchanted tree towering over it all.
“There have been many changes in the entertainment and hospitality industries over the past years, and as we enter into a new era, WHIM’s mission is to put artists back to work and audiences back to play,” said Jill Valentine, Executive Director and one of the creative forces behind WHIM in a statement. “We aim to offer Chicagoans and visitors more than a destination, WHIM is an exploration of creativity and inspiration where the line between artist, performer, and audience is blurred. The inner workings of the creative brain are explored and translated into reality for guests’ play and enjoy. We’re thrilled to open Phase One to introduce the WHIM concept and expand upon the environment later this year.”
The cocktail menu features visual concoctions, ranging from the traditional to the truly outrageous, such as the Chain Smoker, with tequila reposado, mezcal, bitters, agave syrup, smoked with cherry wood chips and spritzed with orange zest; Fluffy Punch, made with white rum, pineapple juice, house made raspberry syrup, topped with lemon lime soda and cotton candy; and Tarty Party, featuring vodka, triple sec, fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, topped with lemon lime soda and house made pea flower magic syrup. Guests can also enjoy a wide array of themed game nights and a variety of performances and entertainment at WHIM, including live music on Saturday nights.
The team behind Phase One of WHIM includes Jill Valentine & Brian Posen, Creative Concept; Brad Younts, Producer; Alex Morales, Owner SmartMouth Designs, Scenic Design and Fabrication; Michelle Lilly, Scenic Design; Christopher Rhoton, Scenic Design; Liz McArthur, Props; Chis Binder, Lighting Design; L.J. Luthring, Sound Design; Anna Glowacki, Costume Design; Candice Johnson, Artist; Koda Witsken, Exterior Muralist; and Rose Johnson, Scenic Painter. Phase One is an introduction into WHIM, which will reveal a larger experience in the coming months. When the full experience is revealed, attendees will step inside a world, created by hundreds of Chicago artists, where all art forms come together to propel guests through a fresh, interactive playground. Complied of 30 distinct spaces fashioned to awaken visitors’ imaginations, WHIM will feature live performances from musicians, actors, dancers, and more.
WHIM is open from 6 p.m. – 12 a.m. Wednesday & Thursday, 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. Friday & Saturday, and 12 – 8 p.m. Sunday. WHIM is also available for groups and private events.