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Tag Archives: beer

Milwaukee, WI – February 16, 2012

As some of you know, I’m a fan of the Dinner Party Download podcast from NPR (and now a bona fide radio show).  If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.  It’s lively, it’s entertaining and it helps prepare you for the weekend’s dinner party or other social events.  And, it has a weekly cocktail!

A while back (in October of 2010 to be exact) they ran a history bit regarding the great London Beer Flood of 1814.  It seems that a vat filled with 135,000 imperial gallons of beer gave way, causing more vats of beer to also collapse.  In the end over 320,000 imperial gallons of beer crashed out of the brewery and into the surrounding neighborhood, killing nine and destroying a number of homes and businesses (including several taverns).   

So where else to get a cocktail to remember the event than Milwaukee?  A call was made to Bryant’s looking for an appropriate cocktail, and bartender Katie Rose was up to the task, creating the “Last Call to Porter” for the show. 

Fast forward a year and a half, and, finally, I was at Bryant’s on an evening when Katie Rose was on duty.  I asked if she had what she needed to make me the Last Call to Porter, and, yes, she did!

  Last Call to Porter

  • 1 oz Knob Creek bourbon
  • 1/2 oz green Chartreuse
  • 1/2 oz Benedictine
  • Porter beer

Combine the bourbon, Chartreuse and Benedictine in a shaker with ice and shake hard.  Strain into a chilled coupe and top with your favorite porter.

A wonderful, woody flavor emerged and danced across my tongue.  The combination of the liqueurs and the porter leave an impression of Aperol, but the finish is much stronger and is a very nice mix of sweet and bitter.  A fantastic effort by Katie Rose!

As to how she came up with the ingredients, she makes it sound easy.  The Knob Creek is aged for nine years and thus represents the nine who died in the flood.  The Chartreuse and Benedictine were selected since beer was originally invented by monks (and these two liqueurs were as well).  And the porter – well, you shouldn’t have to ask.

So, the next time you stop by Bryant’s and Katie Rose is behind the bar ask for a Last Call to Porter.


Twilight Lounge – February 5, 2012

Previously I had written how hosting the occasional BYOB is great since I end up the leftovers in my fridge.  Of course, the flip side to that is that, sometimes, the leftovers are Miller Lite.  And frankly, Miller Lite, and all its “light” bretheren is about the biggest waste of resources known to man. 

So what to do with this swill?  Typically, I wait to use it for cooking – making one of my Polish stews or something like that.  I do occasionally drink it as well, only because I can’t stand to see booze (however bad) not get drunk.  Since it is in cans, holding it for summertime pool use is also an option.  But by then it would be past its date (like that really would make a difference), and I don’t want to do that to my friends and guests.

So, in preparation for the game today I was cleaning up the bar in the Twilight Lounge, and eureka!, it hit me!  The orange bitters was sitting out and I though, why not?  I dropped a couple of dashes into my chilled glass (fresh from the freezer) and poured in the Lite.  Not bad…not great, but certainly more palatable than just the straight stuff.  It gave it almost a Blue Moon quality – which, of course, is from the orange that Blue Moon is served with. 

So there you go.  Got some crappy beer around?  Don’t despair, break out the bitters and have fun!


Twilight Lounge, February 4, 2012

One advantage of hosting BYOB events occasionally at the Twilight Lounge is the beers that get left in my fridge (Thanks Tim!).  So, when I was looking for an afternoon refresher yesterday while making the flatbread for last night’s NID dinner (Moroccan, which meant I got to wear my fez!) I decided to give the Old Rasputin a try.

A product of North Coast Brewing of Ft. Bragg, CA, this is a Russian Imperial Stout.  It’s dark, black color and thick consistency packs a wallop at 9% ABV.  And don’t be fooled (as I was) by the color – this is no Guinness!  In fact, it’s smooth, nutty, mocha flavor gives way to a mildly bitter aftertaste, similar to an IPA to my mouth.  This stout was good on its own and would be great with a thick, juicy burger.  I definitely recommend it!

As for it’s namesake, Rasputin, well, let’s just say that he lived a more colorful life than the stout named for him.  A mystic and clergyman who yielded great influence over Tsar Nicolas II.  During the course of the Russian Revolution he managed to survive a first attempt on his live, but finally succumbed to a group of tsarist loyalists who poisoned, shot and then finally dumped his body in a river – in which he finally died of drowning!


June 18, 2011 – Milwaukee

Ahh, Polishfest weekend in Milwaukee at the Summerfest grounds!  What could be better than Polish food, Polish beer, Polish vodka and polka music all day long!  On this day, nothing!

As is our usual custom, Gwen and I took the girls down on Saturday afternoon to eat, browse the market and listen to some polka music.  The day was perfect, sunny with just enough breeze off the lake to keep us comfortable.  We picked up our lunch at Busia’s Kitchen and had a sampling of everything they had.  The pierogi’s stuffed with potatoe were excellent with a nice buttery flavor and the fried onions that they were served with were a nice touch.  I enjoyed the stuffed cabbage.  The filling was tender and the tomato sauce had a touch of sweetness that I liked.  The sauerkraut was also good, slightly sweet (again) and with a touch of caraway seed.  Finally, Gwen had the Polish nachos – homemade potato chips with a creamy cheese sauce, diced polish sausage and tomato.  They were delicious, if not truly Polish!  The only disappointment were the potato pancakes which were limp and very doughy.

During the afternoon, while we browsed the market, I enjoyed a Tyskie beer.  Although Tyskie is owned by SABMiller (I know, disappointing), it is a very nice pilsner that still has its Polish character and beats a Bud or MGD any day of the week (and twice on Polishfest!).  It’s a full bodied pilsner and goes down smooth.

With our bellies full, we headed home for a short siesta and a Stanski. Round two was Saturday night with our friends Greg and Patti (and a brief cameo by Mark and Sue).  We started off with polka lessons and within 30 minutes could do a passable Polish Hop.  Next was dinner – more pierogies, yum!  Then, the vodka tasting.

The vodka tasting was again sponsored by Sobieski.  However, I have to admit that the Sobieski brand has been diminished in my mind with their recent introduction of flavored vodkas.  I always had admired them for not jumping on the flavored bandwagon, so this was very disappointing. 

Fortunately, I got over my disappointment and enjoyed several Krupniks on ice as we polka’d the rest of the night away!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One of the fun aspects of moving to Milwaukee from St. Louis several years ago was the opportunity to explore Milwaukee’s rich beer heritage.  I know, my St.  Louis friends will tell me that their town is the center of beer in the U.S.  And they are right, if you like crappy, watered down Bud Lite.  St. Louis, I’m afraid, lost its beer heritage a long time ago and is only now just trying to rediscover it.  I’m happy to say that Milwaukee never did lose it’s beer heritage.  The result of that is not only a bevy of local and regional craft beers, but also a resurgence of the original beers.  And in my book, the king of the classic brews is the beer that made Milwaukee famous, Schlitz.

When I first moved to Milwaukee, Schlitz was definitely a second rate beer, along with Blatz and Pabst.  However, for Schlitz the fall was a particularly long and hard one.  By 1902 Schlitz was the leading beer brewer in America based on volume, and by all accounts made a good quality lager.  Schlitz maintained its leadership position into the 1950’s.  By then, though, competition with Anheuser-Busch had grown fierce and the two breweries were essentially neck and neck.  It was during this time of fierce competition in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that Schlitz made a series of spectacular blunders that hurt product quality and ultimately cost them their leadership position.

The first blunder was to experiment with high temperature fermentation process.  This caused the beer to lose much of the bite and charcoal flavor that had made it so distinct in the first place.  The second mistake was to further tamper with the fermentation process by trying a continuous process rather than batch fermentation.  Part of the reason for this change was to attempt to push more beer into the marketplace during a strike at Anheuser-Busch.  However, the bald faced attempt to grab market share led to skunky beer and turned off beer drinkers across the country.  By the 80’s Schlitz had been sold to the Stroh brewery and was on it’s way to oblivion.

In 2008, Pabst Brewing, now the owners of Schlitz, recreated the original Schlitz formula (the actual original had been lost during all the changes made in the 70’s).  With a slow rollout to help create buzz (I remember having a difficult time getting it when it was first introduced in Milwaukee), the new “old” Schlitz has returned itself to it’s rightful place as a quality lager.  With a slightly charcoal flavor, full head and a clean aftertaste, Schlitz has been the house beer of the Twilight Lounge since its return.  With the classic label and bottle it is a perfect fit and is enjoyed by friends and family alike.

If you haven’t tried the new “old” Schlitz yet, give it a whirl.  It’ll take you back to an era when more than just your beer had great body!

Now that I’ve finished my year long journey, I’m ready to move into the next phase with this blog.  And what, you ask, is that?  Well, pretty simple actually.  I”m going to expand the scope beyond a cocktail a day to include, among other things, booze, beer and wine reviews, bar and restaurant reviews, updates on trends in the cocktail scene and even the occasional musical review.  So, if you have a particular bar or lounge you think I should try, or a favorite spirit or cocktail, then let me know – I’ll be happy to give it a whirl!

Stay tunded!

Day 346, Cocktails 353 & 354

If there’s one disadvantage to heading to my local hangout, Ivee’s on Main, for my 50th birthday it was that most of the guys there know me.  So when the offered to set me up with a stripper, I should have run, and run fast.  Crap, they couldn’t even come up with an ugly girl, instead settling for an ugly cross dresser.  I guess they figured after the shooters that I had been plied with I wouldn’t notice the difference.  But I did…

As for those shooters, two that I had were new and worthy of reporting here.  The first was an Ivee’s staple, the Cherry Bomb.  Very simple, really.

  Cherry Bomb

  • 1 oz Dr. Macgillicuddy’s Cherry Schnapps
  • 1 oz Red Bull

Mix them together in a shooter glass and down the hatch!

This is actually not too bad a shooter.  It is very sweet and picks up the unique Red Bull taste.  And it goes down very easy!

The second shooter I had that night worth mentioning is the Lunchbox


  • 1 oz beer
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz amaretto

Mix the beer and orange juice in a rocks glass.  Pour the amaretto into a shot glass.  Drop the shot glass with the amaretto into the rocks glass and then drink it down.

While the mix of ingredients sounds relatively gross, the combination works well.  The sweet orange juice and nutty amaretto combine nicely and the beer gives it a bit more bite.  And it’s not quite as deadly as an Irish Car Bomb (which was also consumed that night!)

So there you go, two shooters to celebrate your next birthday with!


Day 52, Cocktail 48

Ok, this is a quick break from Polish Fest mania…I stopped by the Bomb Shelter to try out the new Batch 19 from MillerCoors.  A brewmaster at Coors found an old log book from 1919 a few years ago that contained the formula for what is now Batch 19.  MillerCoors this spring brewed a limited amount of this old style lager.  In fact, it is only available in 5 cities, Milwaukee counting as one of those 5.  And within Milwaukee, there are only 6 establishments that have it.  That is what I call a limited release!

Now, as most of you know, I’m not a big beer guy, but I do enjoy a well crafted beer from time to time.  So I ordered one up and have to say, it was good.  Full bodied, lovely, grainy taste and slightly bitter on the finish.  It was a treat to drink the same kind of beer my great grandfather did.  I highly recommend getting yourself to the Bomb Shelter soon to try this one!


Day Eight, Cocktail Eight

Yesterday was a full day that started at 5am – had to get up and get the fire going for the smoked pork butt I was doing for International Dining group.  No matter how you slice it or dice it, there is no substitute for time when preparing proper BBQ.

The pork turned out great (not a single morsel left) and all the other dishes were also fantastic last night at a southern style dinner.  Since the smoked pork was the featured dish, I had decided on my Daddy-O Patio Bourbon Cooler as the drink for Gwen and I.  I came up with this cocktail a couple of summers ago and its been a crowd pleaser ever since.  The nice thing about this cocktail is that you can easily scale it up – I’ve made as much as 5 gallons at a time for parties!

  Daddy-O Patio Bourbon Cooler

  • 1 12oz can frozen limeade (thawed)
  • 12 oz Evan Williams bourbon (or any other decent bourbon)
  • 12 oz Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat beer (or any other wheat beer)
  • 12 oz water
  • 2 oz lemon juice


Mix all the ingredients together in a 2 quart pitcher.  Fill a collins glass (or whatever glass you’re using!) with ice and fill ‘er up!  This is a great warm weather drink that goes down smooth.