When is a sting in the back of your throat, closely followed by a warm feeling spreading across your chest, actually a good thing? If you’re a whiskey lover, it might happen when sampling your new favorite whiskey. 

Coming this spring, if all goes well, there will be a bar called Oskar dedicated to whiskey aficionados, offering a selection of about 70 different types, several of them from local distillers.

Eric Young, owner of the new whiskey bar Oskar. Credit: Isabelle Reininger

“We want to have a nice offering of whiskeys. We’ll have a $20 pour but also a less expensive one,” owner Eric Young said.

Oskar will be located on Custer Avenue, just south of La Principal. Young has served Mexican food at La Principal for about eight years and more recently opened Cantuccio’s, a New York-style pizza restaurant, on Emerson Street. He has now decided to convert a space that was formerly used for small parties in the back of La Principal into a cozy bar that can seat 24. In the summer it will have outdoor seating as well. 

When thinking about a name for the new bar, Young was inspired by his family. His great-grandfather was named Oscar and he liked the name, but it was missing something.

“I wanted a strong name,” Young explained. “My friend Tim Hogan, who helped me with branding, put a ‘k’ in there.” he said.

“Good men,” is how he described his association with the name.

“I didn’t want an apostrophe in there,” he added.

Construction of the new whiskey bar Oskar is ongoing on Custer Avenue. Credit: Isabelle Reininger

The plan for Oskar was developed in 2019, but the pandemic put things on hold. The focus turned on keeping La Principal going and retaining as much staff as possible. 

Given its location, Oskar will add to the three existing establishments (Trattoria D.O.C., The Wine Goddess and La Principal) that serve outdoors on Custer Avenue during the summer. The city agreed to close the section of the street closest to Main Street from 4 to 9 p.m. starting in the height of the pandemic in 2020, and the area is also sometimes referred to as the “Custer Oasis.”

One local resident said sitting outside makes for a nice experience.  

Construction, though, is proceeding at a slower pace than planned. For now, it’s at a standstill due to glass for the windows not coming in as hoped. Consequently, the interior construction is on hold.

Nevertheless, Young’s hope is to open this spring. He plans on having two employees during the week and four in the summer month on the weekends. 

Isabelle Reiniger

Isabelle Reiniger, LCSW is a writer and psychotherapist in private practice in Evanston. She reports on local businesses opening and closing for the Evanston RoundTable. Reach Isabelle at isabelle@evanstonroundtable.com

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