On the Chicago Bourbon Trail

For Bourbon Heritage Month, a whiskey lover's bar crawl

September is Bourbon Heritage month, and to celebrate America's most beloved whiskey, we turned to a local bourbon savant (and bourbon writer), Chuck Cowdery.

Chicago is a Jim Beam town, says Cowdery, but if you follow his lead, you'll find a world of options beyond the usual suspects. Grab a seat and a drink (he takes his with room-temperature water on the side) at one of his favorite spots.

Delilah's The best bourbon selection in town is found in the most unlikely setting: a punk bar. Owner Mike Miller is a fanatic and has an oddball selection that includes small-batch bourbons and even his own private label. Go Wednesdays for an Old Crow-PBR special ($4), and Thursdays for a $3 glass of Bulleit.

Stanley's Bars often focus on the high-end, but Stanley's has an eclectic mix of lower-priced, lesser-seen back-bar bourbons, including multiple expressions of Old Charter, Fitzgerald and Wild Turkey.

Miller's Pub Though the selection at this classic wood and leather bar is concise, Miller's is big on atmosphere–the vibe (and the old-school bartenders) has barely changed in 60 years. Try Old Grand Dad, a bourbon made with nearly 30 percent rye.

Twisted Spoke Cowdery calls this a "make-believe biker bar"– despite the dark demeanor, it's a welcoming place. There's Jim Beam on tap, and on Whiskey Wednesdays, all bourbon is half-price.