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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)
lunavideogames
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: May 09, 2012
Posts: 1225
From: San Diego
Posted: 2013-10-16 10:34 pm   Permalink

The decor and drinks look really cool! I sure would like to have this bar by my house. I hope I can make it out there soon.

 
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Ragbag Comics
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 24, 2009
Posts: 138
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-11-23 10:57 am   Permalink

So we made another voyage to Three Dots, in the hopes of finally having the fantastical experience we keep hearing
other people talk about having. There's so much promise there, we had to keep swingin' til we hit something.

I chronicled our first two attempts here previously. The first trip was horrible, second was OK with some weird service issues but vastly more promising and we actually got a drink... since then (probably a month ago), my wife had gone back after a work function downtown, and it was, again, a terrible 90's dance party fit for Jersey Shore. Granted, that was on a Friday (which we already knew would be Kryptonite to any kind of relaxing Tiki atmosphere...) but we decided to try again...

FINALLY! The experience we'd been hoping for!

We went on a Monday around 8:30-9, sat at the bar, and the owner himself made our drinks. He's an incredibly nice guy with a great love of the fancy booze arts.. he loves Tiki and was totally stoked showing us all the new Tiki Farm mugs they'd gotten in.

The drinks were fantastic... I had a Rum River Mystic, which I'd tasted on an earlier trip, and it was well worth the trip back to have a whole one all to myself. What a fabulous, boozy drink! I would probably make 'em at home if I knew what the hell was in it (a new cocktail mystery to solve!) For the next round, I had the Lonely Island in a Foggy Sea (or.. the "Lonely Island Lost in the Middle of a Foggy Sea" as the menu states) which was absolutely incredible. It reminded me very much of the much beloved Mutiny at the Mai Kai... cold brewed coffee, fruit juices, just enough Black Strap to give it punch without tasting like waffles... so incredibly good!

My wife had a Three Dots & A Dash which was great... every bit as good as I make 'em at home, and the best quality version of that drink we've ever had in a public setting. To follow up, she had the Painkiller which was also really good... There ain't much to making a Painkiller, to be honest, but they snazzed it up a bit with passion fruit juice which gave it a little something extra than the standard Pusser's recipe. It tasted more well-balanced and tropical and less like dessert than the standard recipe.

So... great drinks, great service... the music was at a perfect volume and a perfect mix. As a severe music nerd I'm pretty persnickety about music in a bar (especially a Tiki bar)... I was hearing plenty of obscure-o tracks I would never have expected (Takeshi Terauchi and the Bunnies, anybody? Preston Epps the Bongo Man?) Mr. McGee told us they took great pains to go through hours and hours of music from a service based in LA to cull just the right tracks that had just the right feel to 'em... and they did a really good job, 'cuz it was great. That DOES beg the question as to why they were blasting Ace of Base on our first visit, but....

So they're doing a bang-up job in every respect, depending on when you go. If you're coming in from out of town, please check this place out, but for the love of God... go on a Sunday or Monday evening and sit at the bar. It's great watching their bartenders work, everyone is friendly, it doesn't get too crowded, and you can ACTUALLY relax...

IN RIVER NORTH!!

It's a damn miracle...

We will absolutely be back, many times... but only on Sunday or Monday. The dance party atmosphere at 3 Dots on weekends exists because it has to exist in order for them to stay competitive with all the other bars they're competing with in that "neighborhood" on weekends.

For those who don't live in Chicago, there is nothing even remotely enjoyable or local or interesting about River North... people who actually live in Chicago (honest, hard working blue collar folks) don't go there unless they work somewhere down there. It is the nexus of the Clark street tourist hell hole (see: Hard Rock Cafe, Rainforest Cafe, and Rock & Roll McDonald's all located a block away) and the ultra uber-rich stock market traders and trixies and cougars who live in that neighborhood and rarely leave it (see the streams of double-parked BMW and Lexus and Mercedes on weekends.) That area is pure poison... so for a lot of the complaints on Yelp about horrible crowds showing up on Thurs/Fri/Sat (including the experience we had shortly after they opened)... those horrible crowds exist because of the unequivocally terrible, not-at-all-local location. And for the complaints about occasionally surly service on weekends... I can't imagine how often they must have to break up fights between douche bag hair gel dudes or get snapped at by demanding wanna-be Kardashians on the weekends, so I get they're probably a little on edge.

Historically, I would find any reason possible to NOT go to that neighborhood... but our last experience at Three Dots was so good, I'm already itching to go back.

It's the same dichotomy we found with Trader Vic's 2.0 located right at the crotch of the "Viagra Triangle" on State & Rush... that neighborhood, similarly, is absolutely terrible in every respect, but TV's was a nice little respite from the douche baggery transpiring outside the windows.

So... GO HERE!

--Pete
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croe67
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 05, 2003
Posts: 1086
From: Land of Cheese & Beer
Posted: 2013-11-23 11:02 am   Permalink

Glad to hear that you've actually had an experience similar to all of the times I have been there.

And, yes, all of the times I have been there have been weeknights, as I come to town for work - Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. So I can also vouch for those nights - great music exotica/tiki right up until midnight, at least, when I called it a night.

I'll be back the week before Christmas - this time with my husband in tow, too - can't wait!!


 
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Ragbag Comics
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 24, 2009
Posts: 138
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-11-23 11:50 am   Permalink

We were pretty darn glad about it, too!

Surprisingly, our other two crappy experiences at 3 Dots were also on weeknights (save for my wife's more recent excursion on
a Friday, which was mostly coerced by her co-workers, and which she new was gonna be rough.)

I think maybe they're realizing it doesn't need to be the C + C Music Factory after a certain time there EVERY night. Certainly, the first
couple times we were there weren't long after they'd opened, so I think they were still finding their sea legs.

Interestingly, I overheard Mr. McGee tell someone he only bartends on Sundays and Mondays, too... so, that should tell people something.

I'm not a big fan of his previous bar, The Whistler (which, similarly, has spectacular drinks, but it ain't really
my scene), but that place is at least laid back-ish (just waist-deep in ironic Hipstery mustachioed pretension.) I think the shock
on our first visit to 3 Dots (on a Thursday) was just HOW overwhelmingly noisy and clubby and dancey and douchey everyone drinking there was, and how totally incongruous and LOUD the music was.

If they can keep party time to Friday and Saturday nights, I think they'll find they have something really fantastic on their hands that
hasn't existed in Chicago in a very long time. And us locals will finally have a place to (consistently) find a fantastic Tiki drink in a chill environment off the Red Line... Hallelujah!

In all fairness, having worked in a number of bars off-and-on over my 15 years in Chicago, Fridays and Saturdays are pretty horrible
EVERYWHERE (even some of my most favorite bars... er... see Hala Kahiki for one example in the Tiki realm.) Sundays and Mondays are the nights people who WORK in the industry go out, because it's not choked with people everywhere you look.

So... I'm glad we cracked the nut (and props to Mr. Tipsy McStagger for the tip on when to go and where to sit...)

Congrats to Mr. McGee for Sundays and Mondays at this fine establishment! We'll be back for more soon...

--Pete
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Ragbag Comics
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 24, 2009
Posts: 138
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-11-23 11:55 am   Permalink

One other thing... this is a commuter kind of neighborhood;

It might ACTUALLY be busier right after they open on some weeknights (5PM-ish) with the happy hour office crowd.

LOTS of people work down that way; few people actually live there, so the odds of running into a lot
of business folks on a weeknight, earlier, are pretty good. We actually found 7-10 or so to be the sweet spot for low
crowds and laid back-ed-ness.

Also on a side note, if anybody's coming into town to go to 3 Dots and needs some advice on other non-tiki places to go (I think Chicago's
other classic Tiki joints in the 'burbs are excessively well documented at this point) or wants some company for a Rum River Mystic at the bar, throw me a PM.

--Pete
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randomcha
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Dec 05, 2005
Posts: 35
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-11-23 12:00 pm   Permalink

Another reason to return soon: they'll be rolling out a winter addendum to the main menu (with hot drinks!) I don't have a firm sense of exactly when, but my bet is mid-December. Can't wait to see what rejiggered classics are included ...

 
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Ragbag Comics
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Feb 24, 2009
Posts: 138
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-11-23 12:20 pm   Permalink

Good to know!

Any idea when the new mug design rolls out? They've told us "soon" the last two visits... I'm assuming that'll happen once
the Urchins run out.

I know turn-around time at Tiki Farm is pretty long these days (I understand they've been totally inundated with special orders)
so it might be awhile either way, but 3 Dots has been buying SO much Tiki Farm stuff, perhaps they'll get a boost in the chain
of production.

For those keeping score at home, they have these mold-branded and exclusive mugs currently:

--Sea Urchin
--Pineapple
--Clam shell bowl (raised lettering on the reverse)

And several others with the cold-paint decal logo lettering, including a coconut and a couple different Tikis.

--Pete
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randomcha
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Dec 05, 2005
Posts: 35
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-11-23 12:50 pm   Permalink

Nope, but I'll keep my ears open!

 
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thomamas
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 09, 2007
Posts: 48
Posted: 2013-12-05 09:40 am   Permalink

Quote:

Any idea when the new mug design rolls out? They've told us "soon" the last two visits... I'm assuming that'll happen once
the Urchins run out.



Looks like two new mugs on Monday.


 
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tikilongbeach
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 05, 2011
Posts: 1401
From: Long Beach, CA via Dallas, TX
Posted: 2013-12-05 10:14 am   Permalink

Made by Tiki Farm. $20 each according to their Facebook post.



_________________
-Lori


 
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randomcha
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Dec 05, 2005
Posts: 35
From: Chicago
Posted: 2013-12-10 10:33 am   Permalink

Happy Birthday, Trader Vic! Word is that starting this evening they'll be serving a brand new drink in his honor, the Frozen Tortuga. $10 tonight only.

 
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tikiskip
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Nov 26, 2005
Posts: 2962
Posted: 2013-12-30 12:08 pm   Permalink


The wife and I went to Chicago this past weekend and did have a chance to go to
Three Dots.
We got there at 6:00 on Sat to avoid the crowd, Not, the place was busy!
Stood at the bar like 6 feet away just kinda waiting to get a table or something
When a bartender “Tim” reached over to hand us a menu from the six feet away.
Most places I have been will not do this, heck I have been to places where the bartenders are
Right in front of you so busy entertaining each other that a paying customer is the last thing
On their minds.

We put in our names for a table but as luck would have it two seats opened up right in front of
Us at the bar with “Tim the bartender”
At the bar we talked with the folks around us (it was a youngish crowd) and the bar and
Bartender helped make this happen.
(some bars are built in a way that makes talking to others at the bar hard, and some bartenders
Don’t Know how to get these conversations going)
It is sad that newer bartenders don’t get this as getting your customers talking to one another
Keeps these people out of the bartenders hair happy, occupied and spending money.
This is how your business gets regulars.

We did eat as well and the food and drinks were very good.
Service was fast, and over all the place was great!
Cool upscale tiki décor, could use more lights but then I sell tiki lights so what did you think I would say.
The music was not what most would call tiki but we liked it, think tropical.
We did buy mugs as well, four mugs.(That sea Urchin mug is very cool!)
They did not give you that $hit I gotta get this a$$ a mug look when you asked for them.
We did drop over $200.00 at this place so it’s not cheap, but then it’s is Chicago so
Nothing is cheap.

So I say you must go to Three Dots.
It’s a great place.

-=*=--=*=--=*=--=*=-Google "Tiki bar lights" To find TIKISKIP-=*=--=*=--=*=--=*=-

¦:-·:*''""*:·.-:¦:-**-:¦:-·:*''""*:·.-:¦



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TikiTacky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 1311
Posted: 2013-12-30 12:22 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2013-12-05 10:14, tikilongbeach wrote:
Made by Tiki Farm. $20 each according to their Facebook post.



Available as of December 9th, but neither has shown up on Ooga Mooga yet. I'm digging the Golden Bamboo mug, not a big fan of the McGee mug (but I'm more of a traditionalist).
_________________
"You can't eat real Polynesian food. It's the most horrible junk I've ever tasted." —Trader Vic Bergeron


 
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lunavideogames
Grand Member (3 years)  

Joined: May 09, 2012
Posts: 1225
From: San Diego
Posted: 2013-12-31 5:36 pm   Permalink

They are all on sale now, my wife was just there. She purchased all of them and gave the gold mug to her brother. She brought back a couple of really cool swizzle sticks too.

She liked the decor and said the drinks were good. I talked to her that night so I can vouch that the drinks are also strong
I will be there in April so I will say what I like about it and post some pics soon.


 
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randomcha
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Dec 05, 2005
Posts: 35
From: Chicago
Posted: 2014-02-26 10:08 am   Permalink

Whoa! Jeff "Beachbum" Berry himself is coming to Three Dots and a Dash!

http://chicagoist.com/2014/02/26/three_dots_and_a_dash_hosts_potions.php

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