How to Drink Local at Home
The shop local mantra shouldn't be limited to just gift boutiques and farmer's markets, but extend to drinking, too. I mean, why not? Wisconsin is rife with distillers, brewers, vintners and cocktail ingredient makers. So the next time you need to stock your home bar—or if you're starting from scratch—consider purchasing these excellent local products.
Great Lakes Distillery Citrus & Honey Vodka – Forget those sickly sweet, candy-flavored citrus vodkas and try this one instead. Actual lemons (imagine that!) give a light, floral scent and Wisconsin honey sweetens it gently. Great for mixing in simple drinks, like vodka tonics. I may have once bought four bottles when they were on clearance at Woodman's...
Central Standard Craft Distillery Anodyne Coffee Vodka – You're getting two Wisconsin products for the price of one. Anodyne coffee beans steep in the distillery's rye-based vodka for a booze that packs a punch. A coffee lover's must.
Death's Door Spirits Gin – Death's Door's distillery is located in Middleton and is named after the body of water between Door County and Washington Island, which is where they get their winter wheat for distilling. Their gin is well balanced between juniper, coriander and fennel and is an excellent all purpose gin.
Old Sugar Distillery Brandy Station – You can't have a Wisconsin home bar without brandy. Madison-based Old Sugar's version is made from local grapes, aged in lightly toasted barrels for vanilla undertones, then aged a second time in charred barrels for the familiar caramel flavors.
45th Parallel Border Bourbon – This straight bourbon is distilled from grains just a few minutes away from the distillery in New Richmond. It's aged in medium char white oak and bottled—no blending. This is a spicy, dark amber bourbon.
Twisted Path Distillery Overproof Vodka – Anyone who is thinking about infusing your own spirits, this one's perfect. The higher proof extracts flavors faster and more cleanly, so get ready to experiment with your favorite flavors (just like Twisted Path does in its tasting room).
RumChata – Didn't know that RumChata is a Wisconsin product? Most people don't. It's bottled in Pewaukee and made with Wisconsin dairy. If you've (somehow) never had it, it's based on Mexican horchata, a creamy drink with cinnamon and vanilla. It's great in ice cream drinks, mixed with whiskey or on ice.
Death's Door Spirits Kringle Cream – Why not put our beloved kringle into a creamy liqueur? It's flavored with “natural kringle” which apparently means heavy on caramel and nuts. Mix with coffee, amaretto or fruit liqueurs to mimic your favorite kringle flavor. Only available in fall and winter.
Travis Hasse Distilling Cherry Pie – This cherry pie flavored liqueur (and it's cinnamon-heavy apple pie brother) tastes exactly like its namesake. It's sweet and 30 proof, so it's a good sipper or shot. Made in Waunakee.
Door County Distillery Cherry Brandy – Door County Montmorency cherries go into this sweet brandy by way of Door Peninsula Winery's cherry wine. The aroma is deep black cherry with a cream finish.
Mixers and Bitters
Top Note Tonic – This Milwaukee-based company produces five tonic concentrates for mixing drinks. Bitter Orange and the complex Indian Tonic with grapefruit and lemongrass are my favorites. Mix with seltzer and add your favorite alcohol.
Jimmy Luv's Bloody Mary Mix – I prefer to make my bloody marys from scratch, but sometimes that's not always practical. Jimmy Luv's is made in the Milwaukee area and is one of the better mixes available.
Jolly Good Soda – Sometimes you just want to mix with soda, and that's OK. Jolly Good, the soda you probably remember from your childhood, is back. Cream soda is probably the best for mixing. Get it at Piggly Wiggly stores.
Bittercube Bitters – I'm of the opinion that you can't make really good cocktails without bitters. Bittercube, a MKE company, makes them in eight varieties to complement all kinds of drinks. Try the cherry bark vanilla in your next old fashioned.
Upcoming Dining and Beer Events
Sept 9: Point Fish Fry and a Flick at Discovery World. Showing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Sept 10: Tomato Romp. Bloody Mary contest, live music and most importantly, a giant tomato fight.
Sept 10: Erv-toberfest at Erv's Mug in Oak Creek. Unlimited sampling of over 60 seasonal craft beers and a German food buffet. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door.
Sept 12-21: 10 Days in Tosa. Think Downtown Dining Week, but at restaurants all around Wauwatosa.
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