Milwaukee has a long standing history with the sauce. Once touted as the “beer capital of the world” and currently the 17th drunkest city in America (fun fact: 12 of the top 20 are in Wisconsin!) it’s no wonder there are a few signature drinks you simply must try in Milwaukee.
1- Local Beer
This is what Milwaukee is famous for. Any one who drinks beer has likely already had a beer made in Milwaukee. Miller Lite, PBR, and Milwaukee’s Best still taste like college for many of us, but Milwaukee’s beers are not all best suited for drunken keggers. Milwaukee has kept up with the craft beer trend and offers several breweries catering to a more discerning palate. One such Brewery is Lakefront Brewery, which claims the country’s first organic beer and the country’s first gluten free beer (to get the government seal of approval). Lakefront brews a variety of beer for any palate and offers a (sometimes risque) tour of their brewery, complete with samples!
2- Bloody Mary
While Milwaukee may not be able to claim the origin of the Bloody Mary, they’ve certainly perfected it. Every bar in town offers their own unique version of this classic brunch cocktail. Many restaurants and bars try to out do each other by seeing what crazy foods they can pile on top. The most famous being a $50 beast from Sobelman’s that has an entire fried chicken on top! If that’s a little rich for your blood, don’t be afraid to order a tamer Bloody Mary anywhere in town. They’re all great and they all come with a bonus beer chaser! No one seems to know why, but no one is complaining.
3- The Great Spytini
I hit upon this in my last post, but no trip to Milwaukee would be complete without a trip to the local institution, Safe House. Figure out the password, or go through an “interrogation” then proceed inside for some Cold War era spy themed cocktails, most of which come in a souvenir glass. The Great Spytini is a simple vodka martini served up, but it’s the most notable since it’s shaken by launching at a high speed through a tube that stretches all over the restaurant.
4- Anything at Bryant’s
Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge is the oldest of it’s kind in Milwaukee. Since 1938 Bryant’s has been serving up classic cocktails and new inventions. There are over 400 specialty cocktails at Bryant’s, but you won’t find a menu. You can order by color, flavor, liquor, or sweetness (among other attributes) and the expert bartenders will mix you up something perfect. If you need more guidance, you can try The Pink Squirrel, a cocktail invented at Bryant’s. They won’t divulge specific ingredients, but it’s a delicious ice cream based nutty pink cocktail.
5- Old Fashioned
No one seems to know quite how it came to be, but the Old Fashioned seems to be the official cocktail of Milwaukee. This came as great news to me, since the Old Fashioned is my drink of choice. I have ordered Old Fashioneds around the world, but Milwaukee is the only place that gave me options. If you order an Old Fashioned in Milwaukee, you’ll likely be asked “Brandy or Bourbon” and “Sweet or Sour”. The classic Milwaukee way is “Brandy Sweet”. This option comes out like a classic old fashioned with sugar, orange, cherry, and bitters, the only difference is Brandy instead of Bourbon. I have to say, I think they’re wrong and I still like my Bourbon, but when in Rome (er… Milwaukee).
I’d like to thank Visit Milwaukee for hosting me as I drank my weight in Old Fashioneds, and as always, all opinions are my own.