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Tiki Central Forums Locating Tiki Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago, IL (bar)
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Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago, IL (bar)
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 29, 2004
Posts: 599
From: outside the windy city
Posted: 2013-08-01 4:56 pm   Permalink

Well,goodness,I'm late to the party! Thanks for the review! Looks like a winner-just have to remember to bring lots of cash! Love the swizzles,too.

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forgotten tikiman
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 18, 2011
Posts: 502
From: Forgotten Tiki Room. Pismo Beach, CA
Posted: 2013-08-01 8:14 pm   Permalink

Looks cool. Those swizzles are rad. Too bad I'm never in Chicago.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 05, 2011
Posts: 1475
From: Long Beach, CA via Dallas, TX
Posted: 2013-08-02 09:01 am   Permalink

They posted their menu on Facebook. Their webpage isn't up and running yet.


Eater Chicago has some great pictures of the place and you can download their menu to get a better look since my downloaded pic is too small.


They really give credit to a lot of people on the menu.

[ This Message was edited by: tikilongbeach 2013-08-02 09:05 ]

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Tiki Centralite

Joined: Dec 05, 2005
Posts: 36
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-08-07 11:47 am   Permalink

I went back for another visit, reworked my initial reactions, and came up with this piece--enjoy:

Paul McGee's Three Dots And A Dash Is A Genuine Tiki Paradise

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11390
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2013-08-07 11:02 pm   Permalink

Wonderful! Sounds and looks like someone got it right. What a relief. Happy face!

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Kill Devil
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 16, 2011
Posts: 281
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-08-13 07:45 am   Permalink

Just visited this past weekend and I cannot recommend it enough! Their Jet Pilot is an excellent balance of spice and rum power, and the namesake Three Dots and A Dash is a great utilization of an Agricole. Their own "A Lonely Island..." showcases my recent fave Blackstrap Rum. And the pupus were awesome to boot.

It's been far too long since I've been in a Tiki bar that was this crowded, so hopefully this joint will be around for some time, yay for us!!!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 29, 2004
Posts: 599
From: outside the windy city
Posted: 2013-08-26 2:44 pm   Permalink

Well,went this past weekend to celebrate my birthday,and boy,is it terrific!Love the fact that the entrance is in an alley-complete with stanchions and velvet rope! Had a terrific server named Gabby-the gals have long hawaiian dresses that are cut in a flirtatious manner-very cute.Drinks were tasty-MaiTai,and two others.Crab Rangoon was fair,but weren't there for eats.Asked Gabby if I could purchase a menu,and she gave me one for my birthday.Purchased two mugs-Poipu Beach Boogie Board,and Paul came by and gave me a Saturn mug and some swizzles for my birthday! Nice,nice fella-really good vibe there-looking forward to returning for a longer evening.Highly recommended!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 29, 2004
Posts: 166
From: Command Records International HQ
Posted: 2013-08-27 12:59 pm   Permalink

I will echo the positivity. Great place! It was absolutely hopping when we went, but we got a table after not too horrible a wait (we stood around having drinks while we waited.)

The first two drinks we ordered were the best of the evening: Jet Pilot (A+) was absolutely sensational--spicy, complex, delicious rum flavor. The Lonely Island (A+) gives you a weird first impression but grows on your palate--hearty blackstrap rum, coffee, pineapple. Just amazing.

We also sampled the Three Dots and a Dash (A-) which was very good, a bit more booze forward than the traditional Three Dots. The Rum River Mystic (A) is kind of like a rum/bourbon old fashioned--served with a big chunk of ice, strong, flavorful and delicious. Bunny's Banana Daiquiri (B) is not as complex as some of the other options, but has fresh banana flavor and a super cool banana dolphin garnish. The Poipu Beach Boogie Board (B) is made with Rye and Overproof Rum, its flavor is complex and tasty, but also similar to a really good Chinese restaurant drink. My least favorite was the Mai Tai (B-) which I thought was a little on the sweet side, and while the Macadamia Orgeat was a great change of pace, the Macadamia doesn't "play" as nice with the other ingredients. Granted, these were all fantastic drinks by all accounts; order anything off the menu and you're guaranteed something great.

We actually witnessed a table of 6 order the Treasure Chest No. 1 (the $385 drink containing a whole bottle Dom Perignon). I did not expect to see them sell one of those, but apparently they move quite a few of them; the fact they are doing that kind of business is a good sign, even this early on.

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 08, 2006
Posts: 181
From: Grand Rapids, MI
Posted: 2013-09-02 5:33 pm   Permalink

Went there on Saturday night and was not disappointed! My group was there early enough, and I was wearing a snazzy shirt with a tiki sewn into it, so we were offered the private lounge area.

As much as I tried to talk them into letting me buy the Urchin mug a couple days early, the manager very apologetically declined. And, of course, I understood. The service was great, the music was sometimes a little loud, but considering the playlist was could have been straight off my iPod, that wasn't really a problem!

I purchased three mugs, all by Tiki Farm, and $15 each. Fair price.
1 - The Onigawara (still available from Tiki Farm) had the bar logo imprinted on the back.

2 - The Ika Ariki in light blue was not imprinted, but there is space on the back were a Rapa Nui Birdman should be.

3 - A pineapple mug that I haven't seen before, with the bar logo on the back, printed on somewhat raised lettering of the same logo

We arrived at the bar just before 7 and by the time we left, just after 10, the was a line of people to get in. I didn't try any of the food, as I was still full from dinner at the Cuban restaurant just up the street (which offers 4 variations of flights of rum, as well as a flight of mojitos), but the rest of my group ordered just about every dish on the menu and loved it.

We had about 8 different drinks, and they were all delicious! I had to keep turning on my phone in order to examine the garnishing!

We even got to witness a "normal" group of about 15 people order the $380 Treasure Chest, which is carried out with dry ice smoke pouring out. The server then opens and pours a bottle of Dom into its hold. I hope they keep serving these to the bottle service crowd, so the rest of us normal folk can can keep enjoying our tiki drinks!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 09, 2003
Posts: 584
From: Just up the road from Chef Shangri-La
Posted: 2013-09-02 7:03 pm   Permalink

Well we went there for the mug release tonight, and was not near as blown away by the place as most of these reviews here. Decor is ok, but it ain't no Hala Kahiki, Chef Shangri-La, or Tiki Terrace. Drinks were good for the most part, but not cheap, so bring lotsa money. None of the 8 of us at the table liked the Mai Tais, definitely no comparison to Trader Vics.Then to top it all off when we all got our checks our mug purchases were added to the bill along with 18% gratuity!!! WTF! Not in any big hurry to return, but hey that's just me.

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Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3543
From: HELL
Posted: 2013-09-02 7:24 pm   Permalink


On 2013-09-02 19:03, BambooLodge wrote:
Well we went there for the mug release tonight, and was not near as blown away by the place as most of these reviews here. Decor is ok, but it ain't no Hala Kahiki, Chef Shangri-La, or Tiki Terrace. Drinks were good for the most part, but not cheap, so bring lotsa money. None of the 8 of us at the table liked the Mai Tais, definitely no comparison to Trader Vics.Then to top it all off when we all got our checks our mug purchases were added to the bill along with 18% gratuity!!! WTF! Not in any big hurry to return, but hey that's just me.

my advice to anyone going there- buy your mugs first. pay for them before you sit down to drink. otherwise you need to be vigilant that they aren't adding the 18% gratuity to the mugs at the end of the night.

I was also told by someone else that went there tonight that they were out of certain styles of the swizzles - WTF ? you are having a mug release party and you are out of some of your different kinds of swizzles ?

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Ragbag Comics
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 24, 2009
Posts: 152
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-09-02 11:26 pm   Permalink

Just went to Three Dots this evening, and had a mighty fine time. Figured I'd take a couple o' minutes to give the full run-down of our experience here...

In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I made the trek on the Red Line down to 3 Dots first about two or three weeks ago (a little over a week after they'd opened) and at about 8:30 on a Thursday night, it was an absolute hellacious mob scene... we waited to get in (no biggie) but the line outside seemed to have nothing to do with what was going on INside, and they kept sending in folks to pile on top of the people already packed five deep at the bar, spilling over into the tables. The music was fine for an open-format drive time radio station (we heard the Cure, Simon & Garfunkel, but then also Ace of Base, Biz Markee and...the Wu Tang Clan??) but it was cranked up L-O-U-D and absolutely 110% out of place. Between the blast-y out-of-place sound track and the crowd (mostly made up of stock exchange, yuppie white collar investment banker-types and overgrown frat guys... but for that I blame the neighborhood)and after waiting 1/2 an hour for a table (or a drink) we decided to get the hell out of there. The backwards hat-bro walking in and declaring "SPRING BREAK DUDE!" was the nail in the coffin for us.

But.. we went back, primarily because I've heard nothing but glowing reviews of the place, and... it's all we got within the city limits and I like to be able to get a cab or the CTA to get my ass home after a few exotic tipples.

So this time...

I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when we walked up and saw a minimal line, and then entered to an appropriate classic exotica/lounge-y soundtrack playing at an appropriate level... and it wasn't so packed with people you couldn't move. AND the folks who WERE there seemed to be less the cocaine-and-BMW crowd and more just regular people out to have a nice night.

We got a booth and secured our mugs for the new mug release party. It's a nice, unique lookin' mug, designed to look like a sea urchin, made by Tiki Farm exclusively for the place for $20 (no drink, so WITH a drink yer lookin at $33...) but as stated above, DEFINITELY watch yer bill for the automatic gratuity when buying mugs. They DID re-run our tab so we weren't paying 18% gratuity on $60 worth of mugs, but only after someone was able to track down the manager, who explained to us that it's the "policy" to include everything on one bill but they'd "do us the favor" of rerunning the tab. Ultimately all was OK, and they were pleasant enough about it. Not trying to be a cheap ass but with a $20 mug (without a drink), and $13-per-drink rounds, paying an EXTRA $11 tip for handing us 3 mugs seems like stickin' it to ya in a not so nice place. Especially when we were told if we had just walked in off the street and bought a couple mugs at the bar from the bartender directly, there's no automatic gratuity added. I get that it's a flaw in their automated system and they're still workin' the bugs out, but the way the whole thing was handled was kinda weird. Anyway... on to the meat & potatoes here...

The Drinks...

First round, I had an very good Jet Pilot, and my wife had an odd tasting Mai Tai that was nothing like the classic Vic's. With the research and props to all the drink creators of the classic drinks on the menu (and with the Mai Tai being the sole offering here from Vic's, i.e. the place where 99% of the Tiki decor for this joint came from, post Rush St.-implosion)I woulda expected the solid almond-lime-and-agricole-Mai Tai we all know and love (fortunately for us on Lake Michigan, the Foundation in Milwaukee makes a perfect one.)It wasn't just that this drink didn't taste like a Mai Tai... it just was a weird taste altogether and would not have been very good as a drink with an entirely different name, either.

The Jet Pilot I had, however, was really quite great. Weirdly, there were several Jet Pilots delivered to the table in different rounds, which all had different garnishes and came in different glassware. My 1st Jet Pilot was REALLY cinnamon-y by the end due primarily to the large cinnamon stick that came as a garnish.. the ones in the second round didn't have those and seemed far more balanced to me. Of course, I've never had the Steve Crane recipe they're using outside of the Grog Log (Mr. Crane's ventures were all long gone before I was born) but the Mai Kai's version is definitely more booze-forward, less cinnamon/spice. Regardless... it was a killer drink I'd absolutely order again.

I also tried the "Tall as a Tree and Twice as Shady" (a mouthful of a name, to be sure...) THAT was an outstanding original Scotch cocktail... mighty, mighty fine.

Also sampled the Rum River Mystic, which was another original that mixed aged Puerto Rican rum and bourbon along with some other surprises and HOT DAMN was that good! I will definitely get that all for my own bad self next visit.

Overall, it seemed like the classic drinks we had were good quality and made with high-quality ingredients (even the mai tai, while weird, was still using quality booze and fresh juice) but the originals seemed to be where it's at, based on what I tried.

All the drinks looked lovely, with plenty of garnishes, flowers and what-not jammed in them... very picture-esque.

The food...

We didn't have food, but some of the other folks in our group did... it looked and smelled great, and they definitely enjoyed it, but for what they cost, the portions seemed pretty small (4 small satay chicken skewers ran $14.)That being said, the liquor license process in Chicago is an absolute nightmare, and it's next to impossible to get one without serving food unless you take over an existing tavern, so I suspect the food here was an afterthought (I base this on my time served in the food/bar business... the kitchen here is in an odd, after-thought-y place, there were massive delays in getting the place open which is a common occurrence for any non-restaurant in Chicago, and the fact that the food menu is not included on the large drink menu, but rather a separate small piece of card stock are all tell-tale signs to me)

The decor...

The vibe of the decor is pretty minimally tiki (in my opinion.) There are some very nice, elegant touches, but it definitely FEELS like it was "designed" by someone earning a very large paycheck as an interior designer for a large company. Some of the touches discussed in previous posts, like the blue back-lit skulls, are really cool, but the little kitsch elements felt kinda out of place to me with the more chic design sensibility inside. The over-all feel is far more in line with some of Chicago's other fine high-end craft cocktail lounges (Violet Hour, Scofflaw, Sable, etc)with some carefully chosen Tiki touches, and much less like the classic Poly-pop design sense of other newer Tiki bars around the country (Frankie's, Forbidden Island, Hale Pele, etc.)

All that being said, the little touches like the swizzles (which they were mostly out of), the elaborate garnishes, and the cool menus are all more "classic Tiki bar" and less "chic cocktail lounge."


We had a nice time... the drinks were really good, and while it ain't like Frankie's or the Tonga Hut or Forbidden Island, and the decor ain't Hala Kahiki (nor do I think it's trying to BE any of those things) and the atmosphere must make some tumultuous shifts to loud dance-y 90's party crowd on weekends/later in the evenings, it's definitely doing some things right.

Sable has outstanding cocktails (they're right up the road if you're in town visiting 3 Dots... their head man behind the stick won Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans this year...)but they are not served in shrunken heads and pineapples, there aren't any Tikis on the premises, and the odds of hearing Martin Denny come on the sound system are 0 (at 3 Dots, they seem to be about 50/50 from my experiences so far)so we will definitely come back here for our downtown-ish cocktail fix.

With a fully stocked bar at home, and after dropping almost $70 for two drinks each for the two of us, I can say financially speaking we may not be coming a LOT, but still definitely worth a visit if yr in town.

Congrats! You made it to the end of this unnecessarily lengthy post!



[ This Message was edited by: Ragbag Comics 2013-09-03 18:35 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Ragbag Comics 2013-09-03 18:42 ]

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Tipsy McStagger
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 21, 2004
Posts: 3543
From: HELL
Posted: 2013-09-03 11:25 am   Permalink

..and here come the bad yelp reviews... read them quick before TDD has them buried where no one can see them....


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Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 15, 2012
Posts: 279
From: Orange County, CA
Posted: 2013-09-03 2:40 pm   Permalink

Wow, love the swizzles. Especially the octopus and the mermaid! Hope they keep those stocked going forward.

On 2013-07-31 07:00, croe67 wrote:
Looking forward to heading there next time I'm in town!

I did hear about the swizzles.....

The detail on the swizzles is EXQUISITE - some of the best I've ever seen, by far!

c'mon, guys, share more pictures....pretty pleeeeeease!!!

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 05, 2003
Posts: 1109
From: Texas Tikiland
Posted: 2013-09-04 9:21 pm   Permalink


Just wow.

Yes, MaiTai is not traditional.
It's described as having Agricole.
& Macadamia.
Nothing about it is traditional.
But it is delightful & balanced.
& expertly crafted.

More later.

Not the traditional.
But wonderful.

[ This Message was edited by: croe67 2013-09-05 05:32 ]

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