Whiskey bar

Whiskey River: ‘I don’t think there’s anything like that in Joliet’

JOLIET, IL – Vice President of Operations Dan Scott admits that Clarion Hotel in Joliet was in a sorry state when his company, Posh Hospitality Group, bought the 200-room hotel at the Larkin Avenue exit from Joliet along Interstate 80 last July.

“It was run down. It was tired. There hadn’t been a renovation in about 12 years,” Scott told Joliet Patch during Wednesday’s interview. “We really wanted to change the stigma because a lot of people thought it was run down.”

Six months later, Posh Hospitality Group is well on its way with its $1.5 million interior and exterior renovations to the Clarion Hotel at 411 South Larkin Ave.

“It’s not the same place as before,” Scott insisted.

Key to the Clarion Hotel’s success is its new restaurant and bar, the Whiskey River Bar & Grill, which opened on Wednesday. A photo of the entire menu can be found at the bottom of this article.

“I don’t think there’s anything like that in Joliet,” Scott said. “That was our goal. This was all designed by our entire management team.

The Clarion Hotel in Joliet at 411 Larkin Ave. opened the Whiskey River Bar & Grill. John Ferak/Patch

Scott wants Whiskey River’s clientele to be primarily Joliet-area residents, not just out-of-town guests who stay overnight at the Clarion Hotel.

“It’s whiskey-inspired cooking, and it’s all handmade,” Scott told Joliet Patch. “Literally, everything is zero.”

Scott hopes the following menu items will become signature Whiskey River dishes:

  • Chicken and waffles with maple butter and bourbon maple syrup.
  • Grilled salmon with a whiskey glaze
  • Rib Eye Steak with Chimichurri served with Maple Bourbon Brussels Sprouts.
Rib eye steak with chimichurri could become a signature dish at Whiskey River Bar & Grill. Image via Dan Scott / used with permission

Whiskey River is open daily from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Happy hours are daily, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., with chicken wings for 75 cents, draft beers for $3 and classic cocktails for $5, Scott said.

Whiskey River can accommodate 100 people.

The previous owners of the Clarion Hotel had a steakhouse on site, but it closed two and a half years ago, Scott said.

Grilled salmon is one of the star dishes at the new Whiskey River Bar & Grill. Image via Dan Scott used with permission

Scott said much of the seating inside the Whiskey River is designed for groups of six to 10 people.

“There’s a whole whiskey cocktail menu. There’s also smoky whiskeys. All of our cocktails are made with fresh ingredients,” Scott said.

In addition to acquiring the Clarion Hotel, Posh Hospitality Group owns three other hotels in Joliet: Best Western, Comfort Inn and Quality Inn.

The Clarion Hotel is a three-star hotel, Scott said.

Now that Whiskey River has opened, Posh Hospitality Group plans to renovate all 200 rooms at the Clarion Hotel. The last stage of the remodeling will be the exterior facade.

“So we remodeled the lobby, the convention center and the banquet hall, it can accommodate 700 people,” Scott explained.

From noon to 3 p.m. on March 13, the Clarion Hotel will host a bridal expo that is expected to attract 300 brides and 60 local vendors. The Grand Ballroom remodel included new carpeting and all-new lighting. The walls of the hotel have been repainted.