Whiskey Places – Blue Line Lounge & Grill

It was freezing cold when I was in Chicago the first week of January, and when I say freezing cold, I mean cold. My coworkers and I were not actually planning on going to the Blue Line Lounge & Bar, but we were freezing and the lights were on. We went in to get warm and ended up having a few drinks.

I ordered my usual Manhattan and enjoyed some good company and the warm interior of the bar. As soon as I tasted the Manhattan I thought I recognized it. After looking at the menu, I realized they were using Redemption Bourbon, which scored a 40/100 as a sipper. When I made this Redemption Manhattan at home, the Vermouth definitely helped smooth out some of the rough edges, and the score rose to a 53/100.

I’m going to say that the Blue Line Lounge and Bar Manhattan tasted about the same as what I made, so I’m holding to that score of a 53/100. As a whiskey bar, this place doesn’t have a huge selection, and is about as good as any city bar, so I feel like it earned it place in the “If I Had Limited Choices” category.

On the plus side, they had a grilled cheese sandwich with beef brisket that was just amazing. If you are drunk (or getting drunk) I highly recommend adding the grilled cheese/beef brisket sandwich to your order. It was gooey, and the brisket had just the right amount of sweet and salty. It was perfect on a cold Chicago night to help soak up some of the alcohol.

On the price side, the Blue Line Lounge & Bar was low cost if you order a meal and a drink. Just like any restaurant, if you go nuts on the booze the price is going to rise.

Redemption Manhattan
PlaceLocationScorePrice ScaleDrink
Cinder BarClarksboro, NJ96High CostManhattan
Saltgrass SteakhouseOrlando, FL91Moderate CostManhattan
The Irish WhisperNational Harbor, MD90High CostIrish Whiskey
The Dead RabbitNew York, NY75High CostMultiple
Iron Hill BreweryWilmington, DE71High CostKentucky Connection
Harry’s Savoy GrillWilmington, DE67High CostManhattan
Ted’s Montana GrillNewark, DE66Moderate CostNewly Fashioned
Creekside InnWoodstown, NJ65Low to ModerateManhattan
AlewifeRichmond, VA63High CostManhattan
roanokeChicago, IL55High CostBlack Manhattan
Blue Line Lounge & BarChicago, IL53Low CostManhattan
Da AndreaNew York, NY50High CostManhattan
Iguana CafeChicago, IL45Moderate CostManhattan
The Greene TurtleNewark, DE40Moderate CostManhattan
Restaurante Montserrat ManorPunta Cana, DR35High CostManhattan
Dave & Buster'sDeptford, NJ30Moderate CostManhattan
Cock'n BullLahaska, PA26High CostManhattan
Old Fashioned
The Brass TapNational Harbor, MD25Moderate CostManhattan
Carrol's Creek CafeAnnapolis, MD21High CostManhattan
Big Fish GrillWilmington, DE10High CostManhattan
The LegendNew Castle, DE5Low CostManhattan
TGI FridaysNew Castle, DE1Moderate CostManhattan

Cost Scale

Up to $30 per person – Low Cost

$31 to $50 per person – Moderate Cost

$51 and above per person – High Cost

Mixed Drinks – Redemption Bourbon Manhattan

I was not overly impressed with Redemption Bourbon when I first reviewed it. It had a lot of rough edges and it was not a whiskey I’d drink neat. As a sipper Redemption Bourbon scored a 40/100, making it fit to make mixed drinks with. Read the full review here.

Since it didn’t make the cut as a sipper, let’s see if Redemption Bourbon can redeem itself in a classic Manhattan.

Redemption Bourbon Manhattan

This bottle of Redemption was sitting on a shelf for a while after I tried it neat. That’s problem because my wife gets mad at me if I have bottles overflowing from the bar. With no other choices, I figured I’d better polish the bottle off, no matter how much I didn’t like it the first time around.

I went in with a little concern that a Redemption Bourbon Manhattan wouldn’t be much better than the base whiskey. Thankfully, the vermouth did its magic and smoothed out a lot of the rough edges and helped line up some of the positive notes in the base whiskey. The sweetness and maybe the volume dilation that the vermouth added took the harshness off the Redemption and allowed me to appreciate more of the vanilla and spice. I’m not a huge fan of rye though, so the vermouth may also help round out those rye notes that I’m just not programmed to like from the start.

When making a Manhattan, this Redemption Bourbon jumped 13 point, bringing it to a 53/100, which is a respectable 32.5% increase. While it is better, it still leaves this Redemption Bourbon Manhattan in the “If I had Limited Choices” category.


  • Smooths out most of the rough edges the straight bourbon had.
  • The sweetness of the vermouth mixes with the hard edges of the Redemption and turns it into a nice mixed drink.


  • Even with the vermouth, this Manhattan has a little bit of burn going down the throat.
Basil Hayden’s Manhattan95$30 / 750mlManhattan
Balcones Lineage Manhattan92$40 / 750mlManhattan
Knob Creek Small Batch Manhattan69$30 / 750mlManhattan
Redemption Bourbon Manhattan53$30 / 750mlManhattan
Breaker Manhattan35$55 / 750mlManhattan
American XXX Born Bourbon Whiskey Manhattan35$25 / 750mlManhattan