Wisconsin knows a thing or two about classic cocktails—our friendly taverns and pubs elevate these beverages to an art form. With fresh ingredients, small-batch spirits and a jigger of creativity, bartenders are finding ways to serve up perfection in a glass. Here are three can’t-miss destinations for classic Wisconsin cocktails.
Old fashioned, Bitters & Bull, Oneida County
Is there a more classic Wisconsin drink than the old fashioned? Still, there’s nothing stodgy about the old fashioneds served at Bitters & Bull in Lake Tomahawk. After a day of enjoying Oneida County’s trails and lakes, head to this cozy Northwoods pub for some of the most inventive old fashioneds around. You’ve got some big choices to make—Bitters & Bull serves up nine variations on this classic drink, including chai & vanilla, maple and tamarind varieties!
Brandy Alexander, Norwood Pines Supper Club, Minocqua
In addition to the old fashioned, another supper club staple is the after-dinner ice cream drink. Head to the Northwoods, and you’ll find plenty of places that serve up these tasty favorites, but Norwood Pines Supper Club in Minocqua is a local favorite for its creamy creations like the iconic Brandy Alexander. (It’s Wisconsin, of course we’re getting something with brandy in it.) If brandy’s not your thing, try a grasshopper or a pink squirrel.
White Russian, Libby McNeil’s, Marshfield
Central Wisconsin is home to some great breweries and brew pubs (including Marshfield’s own Blue Heron Brewpub), but you can also find classic cocktails pretty much any place you go. At Libby McNeil’s—located inside Hotel Marshfield in the city’s downtown—you’ll not only discover tasty dishes like almond walleye, prime rib, and a Friday fish fry, you can also enjoy drinks like basil peach lemonade or the lemon drop martini. If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, try the caramel white Russian (caramel vodka, Kahlua and whipped cream, shaken and served over ice).
Manhattan, Yahara Bay Distillers, Fitchburg
In recent years, craft micro-distillers have been popping up across the Dairy State. One of the best is located in Fitchburg, just outside of Madison. Yahara Bay Distillers is a family-owned microdistillery known for its single-batch whiskey. Yahara Bay is open to the public, so you can enjoy a craft cocktail in the distillery’s Public House while admiring Yahara’s copper pot still. What to order? We’d go with the Wis-Kee Manhattan, made with Yahara Bay’s whiskey, the house Wis-Kee Liqueur and a few cherries. Enjoy!
Bloody Mary, Mid Town Pub, Middleton
The Bloody Mary is a beverage with infinite variations, from mild to spicy, tangy to savory. And the garnishes can range from a simple olive to a virtual salad on a stick that threatens to topple the glass. Find your new favorite bloody at Mid Town Pub in Middleton. The pub, located near Middleton’s great downtown shopping options, has a Bloody Mary bar that features more than 30 different juice mixes and an expansive buffet with all the fixings. Cheers to that!