Three Dots and a Lot of Glasses
By Sarah Freeman
August 5, 2013
Consider the length of mixologist Paul McGee’s beard a measurement for how much effort went into Three Dots and a Dash. The beard was merely at professional lumberjack-length when he left The Whistler in early 2012 to oversee the cocktail programs at several Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants. Today, he could leave the world of bartending for the competitive beard circuit.
Don’t do that, McGee.
Much like original tiki bars of the 1930s, Three Dots is meant to be a tropical escape or perhaps a rum-soaked wormhole. The windowless cavern below Bub City is decked out with carved wood totems, faux thatched walls and a white onyx bar below a grass canopy. There's a lot of rum, but that's a given. It is also obvious that the bar’s namesake drink (aged rhum agricole, Guyanese rum, honey, falernum, lime, allspice and angostura bitters) is on the menu. There are classics such as a Mai Tai and surprises like a gin-based Saturn (passion fruit juice, lemon, falernum and almond).
It’s all moot.
Not that we don’t care about the drinks. We are just more fascinated by the nonalcoholic cocktail components. When a punch-filled pirate ship arrives at a table, the initial moment of awe has little to do with what the concoction tastes like and more to do with the smaller citrus peel ship floating in the center. McGee and his team not only fill each mug with military-level precision, but also garnishes them with cornucopias of edible flowers and manipulated fruits.
“Tiki is all about going over the top,” McGee said.
One man known as “The Hardest Working Man in Tiki” makes many of the mugs holding the extravagant cocktails. His name is Holden Westland and he owns Tiki Farm, the largest Polynesian collectable production company. He, along with a ragtag team of artists who go by the names Crazy Al and Tiki Ray, create some of the most sought-after tiki memorabilia on the modern market, including four custom mugs for Three Dots.
Check out what makes the glassware and garnishes so unique at the bar now open in River North.
435 N. Clark St. (entrance through the alley off Hubbard St.); 312-610-4220