In Holiday Guide

Add some international flair to your seasonal drinking with Studio Lounge's Tamarindo Margarita. (Photo: Josh Benishek)

In Holiday Guide

The Black Pear is a house favorite. (Photo: Josh Benishek)

In Holiday Guide

The Pfister's Lobby Lounge serves a creative Winter Glog during cold-weather months.

In Holiday Guide

Spice up your holiday with a Cin Gin at Firefly Bar & Grill.

Get in the holiday "spirit" with local seasonal libations

(page 2)


For those interested in doubling down on a night of spirits, Shakers Cigar Bar, 422 S. 2nd St., is the place to go. Not only does the staff provide bar-goers with tales of the space's many ghostly encounters, this year it has crafted a unique set of seasonal mixers.

"There is a local Wisconsin flair to each one of our seasonal cocktails," said marketing manager Amanda Morden. The drinks combine local ingredients with Shakers' flair for classic cocktails and a little (sometimes dark) humor.

The Cranberry Fairy, "a spicy holiday treat that combines classic botanical spirits with traditional seasonal flavor," features Mata Hari absinthe topped with Cider Boys Cranberry Hard Cider (Stevens Point), accompanied by a Bob-a-Loo's proprietary bitters cube and garnished with skewered Wisconsin cranberries (Warrens, Wis.). The London Dry Holiday Martini is "an old favorite to keep you in high spirits during the stressful family and shopping season." It mixes Gallo dry vermouth and Greenall's London dry gin garnished with Penzey's juniper berries.

Finally, their Death in the Afternoon will give patrons the chance to channel the famous Ernest Hemingway. The cocktail is "a Hemingway creation that he indulged in frequently. (It's) also the cocktail he was imbibing in when his suicidal tendencies took over." It combines Lamarca prosecco, Mata Hari absinthe and a Bob-a-Loo's proprietary bitters cube. Before you consider over-indulging, however, be aware that Shakers takes care to make sure you don't join its ranks of hallowed haunts.

"We only allow three absinthe cocktails per person, compared to Hemingway's typical eight per day," said Morden.

Bar-goers looking for a more international flair this holiday season (or simply an escape from the hustle and bustle) need only travel to Bay View's Studio Lounge, 2246 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Its winter cocktail menu just rolled out for the season and includes both classic favorites and a little Latin inspiration to complement their regular salsa dance and music nights.

Visit the bar/art gallery and dream of warmer temperatures with the Flor de Cuzco, a mixture of Rishi Blueberry tea-infused Pisco, house-made hibiscus syrup, egg whites, limes and a dash of Aztec chocolate bitters; or the Tamarindo Margarita, which combines Anejo tequila, Cointreau, Tamarind nectar, limes and oranges on the rocks with a chili pepper-lime salt rim. A Studio Lounge favorite, the Black Pear (Blackstrap rum, Muscovado sugar, ginger root, pear nectar and limes) also makes an appearance on this list of inventive cocktails.

If tradition is what you're after, however, nothing does holiday elegance quite like wine. Whether you have a big, full-bodied red or a light, effervescent champagne in mind, Indulge Wine Room, 708 N. Milwaukee St., has an array of seasonals perfect for the bar or at home. Sommelier and wine director Mike Nedeau has introduced a number of new reds and bubbly whites to the menu that would please any palate.

"I have some bigger, heavier reds I added for the season," he said. "This time of year it's cold, so we need some big reds to warm us up. I have a nice syrah that I just added to the menu, and I'm also adding another heavy cabernet and a shiraz as well. I'm going to be bringing in some nice Spanish cava from Catalonia. I already brought in a Crémant de Loire, and some champagne alternatives that are just as good, if not better, for most people."

Patrons can indulge, as it were, in Indulge's wines by the glass for between $7 and $15, or by the bottle starting at around $20 during happy hour, said Nedeau. While relaxing with a glass of vino and one of the bar's new charcuterie or cheese pairings is the ideal scenario, those on the go can pick up a bottle or two in between checking people off their holiday gift lists, too.

"We also do retail before 9 p.m., so they can come and go if they don't want to sit around," added Nedeau.

Cocktails and wine are one thing, but Milwaukee is a beer city, after all. Don't worry, brew fiends – Lakefront Brewery has you covered. Its Holiday Spice lager, brewed with cinnamon, orange zest, clove and honey, is back on liquor store shelves all over town and boasts an 11-percent alcohol by volume.

"Around the brewery, Holiday Spice is know as Santa's Rocket Fuel because it's such a high-alcohol beer," said Chris Johnson, Lakefront's director of business development.

Holiday Spice isn't the only seasonal on tap for Lakefront in the coming months. Three more are due out over the course of this winter, including a revamped take on an old favorite.

"The big one is our series one (of four) 25th Anniversary beer," said Johnson. "It's going to be an imperial stout with coco nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans and cherries. Look for that to be released around Christmas. Our next My Turn series beer will be Chad('s). Chad made an organic barley wine, and that should be out in mid-January. We (also) put a new spin on our Fuel coffee stout for draft: Fuel NITRO coffee stout. This made the beer a lot more silky and creamy and really brought out the coffee flavor. It tastes amazing."

Have a local seasonal staple of your own? Share it in the Talkback section.

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