Monday, September 22, 2014
With such a distinctive place in cocktail history, it is no wonder that Milwaukee has been able to hold its own within a movement that had continued to ascend. The “craft” aspect of cocktail making has claimed its place on cocktail lists and the palettes of American imbibers, and our city has been a part of it every step of the way.
Great Lakes Distillery, Wisconsin's first since Prohibition, was founded in 2004 and has lead the charge with a cadre of award-winning spirits. Not the least of these are a gin (listed as one of America's Best in the New York Times) and a blended whiskey (winner of the gold medal at the 2013 World Whiskey Awards).
Bittercube—hand-made bitters made by a duo of Milwaukee bartenders—have gained national attention, and enjoy distribution to better cocktail bars around the country and space on the shelves of Whole Foods. Bittercube and a spate of new distilleries are located within blocks of Bryant's and Great Lakes Distillery in Milwaukee’s South Side.
To wit, it only seems proper—with Milwaukee's cocktail history and current momentum—that the city host Milwaukee Cocktail Week, running September 21-27, 2014. Now in its second year, this ode to cocktails was founded by local food writers and the publishers of Milwaukee-based Alcoholmanac Magazine. It promises “distiller meet & greets, tastings, hands-on classes and all sorts of other events revolving around the art of the cocktail!” As the host of Wisconsin Foodie, I am excited about the fantastic cocktail dinners planned through the week, pairing Milwaukee's exceptional chef talent with menu-crafted cocktails.
On Sunday, September 21, 2014, I hosted the 2nd Annual Milwaukee Cocktail Week Tailgate Kick-off event, and on Wednesday, September 24th, I will host a special cocktail dinner at Bavette La Boucherie. Astute in the heritage and craft of traditional butchery styles is Karen Bell, chef/owner of Bavette. Her talents are the perfect complement to cocktails that will undoubtedly represent America's great craft tradition.
On September 27th, “Cocktail College” will be hosted at the Iron Horse Hotel. There you can sample the distilled spirits that helped make Milwaukee Cocktail Week possible as well as meet distillery representatives and ply them with questions about their craft. Seminars throughout the evening will serve as a well-vetted source of information on Milwaukee's place within national imbibing culture and history. Diplomas that night, however, will be self-bestowed.