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Tag Archives: Bryants

Milwaukee, WI – March 7, 2012

So I’m sitting at the bar and I hear, in this low, almost whispering voice, “Nice pants.”  I look around and there’s no one within ear shot, so I shrug it off and take another sip of my drink.  But then I hear the voice again, “Great looking haircut.”  Again, I look around and nothing.  I try to shrug it off, but when a few minutes later the voice asks “Have you lost weight?” I call the bartender over.

“Brett, I keep hearing this voice saying things like “nice pants” and “great haircut”.  What gives, are you screwing with me?”

Brett looks me right in the eye and tells me, “It’s the peanuts, they’re complimentary.”

One of the nice things about Bryant’s (South 9th and Lapham, Milwaukee) is that you don’t have to worry about either random hours or complimentary nuts distracting your taste buds from the cocktails.  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had occasion to stop by and enjoy these two outstanding creations by Emily.

First is the Glamour Shot, pictured above.  When Emily asked what I was in the mood for I quickly answered gin, but that I didn’t want something run of the mill or a classic.  So, out came the Plymouth gin, Domaine de Canton liqueur, Cynar liqueur, bar syrup and lemon juice.  An interesting combination I thought, between the ginger Canton and the bitter Cynar, with is derived from, among other things, artichoke.  The result was a terrific cocktail that leads with the ginger of the Canton then quickly follows with a slightly bitter bite.  The bar syrup and lemon juice round out the drink and give it balance so that it’s boozy, but in a mellow way.  An excellent offering from Emily.

The second drink is her Milwaukee Manhattan.  This drink was designed for a contest that Emily had entered (and, incidently, won) for the best variation on the classic Manhattan.  Featuring Bulliet rye whiskey with the usual sweet and dry vermouths (making this on perfect) and both Agnostura and Peychauds bitters, the twist is the addition of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur (which I love!).  Again, a very well constructed cocktail that tasted incredible.  The cherry from the Luxardo was out in front on this one, with the sweet vermouth, bitters and rye filling in behind it.  This is a complex cocktail, with layers of flavors to be discovered.  Again, kudos to Emily for a job well done.


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.


Day 285, Cocktails 283, 284 & 285

Nothing like a trip to Bryant’s to get caught up!  Brother Mark and I (along with another of Mark’s friends) stopped by there not too long ago for a Men’s League night.  We were delighted to find Emily, Michael and Katie Rose behind the bar.  That always means good things are in store for us!

My first was an effort from Emily, and it was fantastic!  Named the Robin’s Nest (see the picture), she used Hendrick’s gin, Domaine de Canton liqueur, lime juice, rich syrup and muddled cucumber, salt and pickled ginger to create a dazzling mix of ginger and cucumber flavors.  The rich syrup is fuller and, well, richer – and is made with demerara sugar instead of the regular white sugar I use in my bar syrup.  This was an outstanding drink from Emily and if you walk ito Bryant’s and find her behind the bar you really need to try one of these.

Next up was a no name cocktail from Michael that he put together to satisfy my craving for something in rye and orange flavors.  His cocktail included Sazerac rye whiskey, Aperol, orange bitters and Lillet Blanc.  A very tasty cocktail, this one had just the right mix of sweet orange and floral flavors that complimented the Sazerac extremetly well.  I enjoyed sipping this one as we bantered with each other and the other patrons at the bar.

My last drink of the night was a Katie Rose effort, and she put together a fantastic effort.  Following up on my rye and orange inclination, she used Sazerac rye, Aperol, Punt e Mes, Cynar, Reagan’s bitters, Angostura bitters and lemon juice.  You would think between the bitters, Cynar and Punt e Mes that this would be a very bitter, difficult drink.  It wasn’t, though.  The Aperol helps sweeten it back up, counteracting the bitter flavor of the Cynar (which is a liqueur made from artichoke among other things) and the Punt e Mes, which is a bitter Italian vermouth.  The flavors in this cocktail are bold and strong, yet also work well together, creating a taste explosion in my mouth.  Well done Katie, especially considering she overcame a sprained thumb which made shaking painful for her.

If you are in Milwaukee and have not been to Bryant’s you really do need to try it out – you won’t be disappointed.


Day 255, Cocktails 253 & 254

My good friend and associate Miles was in town Wednesday night and we got together for a few cocktails.  Getting together with Miles is always fun, in part because he is knowledgeable about wine, beer and spirits (I guess that part time gig at the wine store helps) and we always have some good conversation as well as good drinks.

Miles is a huge Bryant’s fan, but I suggested we try Cafe Lulu first since he had not been there and we could grab some food if need be.  The menu, cocktails and patrons at Lulu are an eclectic bunch, which makes the place that much more interesting.  The cocktail I had there was a Sweet Violet and consists of Rehorst vodka (a locally distilled product), Pages Creme de Violette and a splash of sour.  The attraction of this cocktail is the Creme de Violette, which until just a couple of years ago, was virtually unavailable in the US.  Fortuntately, it is back and is helping make tasty cocktails again.  This was a good cocktail, with the floral flavor of the Creme de Violette nicely accented by the sour.  Since vodka was the base, there was no disconcerting collisions in this drink.  Definately a winner!

After our drink at Lulu’s Miles was ready to head back to Bryant’s and I was happy to oblige.  John and Emily were manning the bar when we arrived.  I asked for something with bourbon and ginger flavors.  John obliged me with something he called a Dana and Dan cocktail.  It was bourbon, ginger beer and peach schnapps, served in a collins glass on ice.  It was delicious!  The strong and slightly spicey ginger of the ginger beer held up well against the bourbon and the peach schnapps provided a nice fruity note on the end of this drink.  Well done, again, John!

After a cocktail at Bryant’s we were both ready to call it a night (hey, it was a school night!).  You can be sure, though, that I’m looking forward to Miles’ next visit!


Day 254, Cocktail 252

Do not attempt to adjust your television…This is what happens when you have one too many.

OK, seriously, are there any Twilight Zone fans out there?  One, two, that’s it, just two?  Oh well.  At least my troll’s hair color matches tonight’s cocktail.

So, I concocted this cocktail on Tuesday, trying to use up my pomegranate juice after I realized it has a relatively short shelf life.  But that’s OK, because it’s good for you, right?  Well it is, but I just read a report today in Business Week magazine that states that the health effects of pomegranate juice have been overhyped, the company that makes POM Wonderful is being sued by the Federal Trade Commission for making unfounded health claims and that pomegranate juice is no better for you than good ‘ol orange juice.  *Sigh”  At least it tastes good in cocktails.

  POM Wonderful

  • 2 oz rasberry flavored vodka
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz pomegranate juice

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake the night away.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime peel. 

Ok, ok, yes, I used flavored vodka!  It was purchased during a moment of weakness nearly 2 years ago and I’m trying to get rid of the stuff!  Other than that, this is a tasty little number, similar to that chick fave the Cosmopolitan (conscpicous in its continued absence from this blog).  In fact, Gwen asked for another one tonight, cementing its place in the chick cocktail section of my recipe rolodex.

It’s back to real cocktails in my next post (hmmm, must have been to Bryant’s again).


Day 216, Cocktails 213 & 214

Saturday night was a night out on the town for Paula, Cookie, Gwen and me.  We started by stopping by Bryant’s for a cocktail before dinner.  Proprietor John Dye was manning the bar when we arrived and I asked John for something with rye and ginger beer.  He came up with an original cocktail on the spot that has no name.  It consisted of Old Overholt rye, Gosling ginger beer, Branca Menta, Peychaud’s bitters and lime juice.  It was very tasty and had just an overtone of mint, which I originally guessed as creme de menthe, incorrectly so as it turned out.  The mint flavor came from the Branca Menta, which is a mint version of Fernet Branca.  Very herbal, almost bitter tasting, it helped round out the cocktail John made in a way that creme de menthe would never be able to do.

After our drink at Bryant’s we headed to Casablanca for dinner.  The food was excellent and the atmosphere was interesting.  We’ll definately return soon!

After dinner we headed to another favorite, the Foundation Tiki bar in Riverwest.  There I enjoyed a Blue Moana.  This tasty treat consists of vodka, blue curacao, lime juice with hints of orange and almond.  I’m sure the almond comes from orgeat syrup but I couldn’t quite figure if the orange was coming from orange juice, triple sec or Cointreau.  I also did not have a chance to quiz the bartender as shortly after we arrived a busload of pub crawlers arrived and the bar was hopping for the next hour!

All in all a great evening as we got to take my mom and Cookie to two of my favorite bars in Milwaukee.  We’re already looking forward to their next visit!


Day 212, Cocktails 205 & 206

Yesterday was filled with anticipation.  My mom Paula and step dad Cookie were due to arrive from Pennsylvania in time for dinner.  The whole family was looking forward to their arrival since we hadn’t seen them since Paula’s birthday celebration in August.  The girls in particular always enjoy Grandma’s visits.

After an excellent dinner of Gwen’s homemade lasgana we headed to the Twilight Lounge for cocktails and a chance to get caught up.  Paula was very impressed with the new floor and then settled in at the bar with Cookie and Gwen.  I mixed up a Caramel Apple for Gwen and a Greg’s Kringle for Paula.  She thought both of them were delicious but chose to stick with the Kringle.  Meanwhile, I began to experiment with another of the flavorings I had picked up at the bake shop a couple of weeks ago.  Here’s what I came up with.

  Maker’s Root Dram

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Drambuie
  • 2 drops root beer flavor extract

Combine in a shaker and shake, shake, shake to mix.  Strain into a chilled coupe.

I really liked this one.  Inspired by the Charles Hires Old Fashioned from a Bryant’s Sporting Fraternity event, it has a subtle root beer flavor behind the Drambuie and Maker’s Mark.  There are several layers of flavor that give this drink a nice complexity.  I’ll probably tinker with it a bit more, but I did like it.  The next cocktail was a classic from the Ultimate Bar Book.

  Waldorf Cocktail

  • 1-1/2 oz bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Pernod
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Agnosturo bitters

Combine in a shaker and shake, shake, shake to mix.  Strain into a chilled coupe.

This classic is a variation of the Sazerac.  I enjoyed it, but the Pernod is a bit strong for my liking, making this a one and done for me.  I just wouldn’t be able to drink these all night long like a could a martini or manhattan.

By the time I finished this it was getting late and we were all ready for bed.  I’m sure that there will be more cocktail fun this weekend though!


Day 146, Cocktail 142

Back at last (to posting that is).  A very busy week on the business front (and leaving my laptop in Milwaukee while in St. Louis) has kept me offline.  Rest assured though, I’ve been keeping up.  I’m skipping ahead of some of my St. Louis explorations to last night.  Gwen and I drove to Minneapolis for a weekend of mixed business and pleasure with another couple.  Last night we met my business associate and friend Ashish and his wife Lori for dinner and cocktails.  At Ashish’s suggestion we went to the Bradstreet Crafthouse, located in the Graves Hotel. 

I’ve got to tell you that this is my first visit to Minneapolis since the early 80’s and wow, this city is amazing!  The downtown area was alive and vibrant last night with all kinds of night life and a Twins game going on at Target Field.  I was drooling as we passed by one cocktial lounge and restaurant after another.

Back to the Bradstreet Crafthouse.  This establishment is dedicated to the art of the craft cocktail and features a number of classics and new mixes created locally.  You can also select a variety of small plate dishes from the extensive menu (try the satay and lamb sliders!).  My first drink of the night was the Vincent’s Ruin.  This features Bulliet Bourbon, lemon, St. Germain and Pernod.  (Yep, the combination of bourbon and St. Germain is what caught my eye.)First, a terrific presentation as the drink was served in a rocks sized glass with a generous lemon peel and the large, round ice ball – about half the size of a baseball.  I’ve seen this before at Bryant’s in Milwaukee and its a very neat and stylish way to keep you drink cold.  It’s also practical as the ice melts much slower, reducing the amount of dilution.   As for the flavor, it was amazing!  Each flavor was subtle on its own and perfectly blended to create a very harminous drink.  With the slightly smokey bourbon providing a solid foundation the elderflower, lemon and anise flavors were each distinct but not overwhelming. 

I could have drunk this all night, but there was more to explore.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait as it’s time to get going to the tailgate before the Minnesota – USC game this afternoon.


Day 124, Cocktails 118, 119, 120 & 121

So Daddy Tomato, Momma Tomato and Baby Tomato are out for a walk.  Daddy Tomato has to keep turning around and telling Baby Tomato to walk faster.  Finally, Daddy Tomato walks back to Baby Tomato and stomps Baby Tomato into pulp.  “I said Ketchup!” he yells as he rejoins Momma Tomato.

I know you Pulp Fiction afficianodos didn’t me to mention the movie, but for the uninitiated that was the corny joke that Uma Thurman told John Travolta during their “date” to Jackrabbit Slim’s.  It was her big moment in the pilot of “Fox Force Five”, her one shot at TV stardom.  Alas, it wasn’t to be for Uma.

So what’s the connection?  Well, I’m running as hard as I can to “ketchup” – and tonight is a big step forward with four cocktails to report on.

Last night my business associate and friend Ashish Gandhi was in town along with Dan Krueger.  I met Ashish and Dan at Izumi’s for a drink and dinner.  As always, we threw ourselves at the mercy of the sushi chef and we were well rewarded with an outstanding platter of rolls, sushi and sashimi.  Of course, before starting dinner we had a drink at the bar.  I asked the bartender what he had that featured gin and his suggestion was a Gin Rickey.

  Gin Rickey

  • 2 oz Bombay gin
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • soda water

Combine the Bombay and lime juice in shaker with ice.  Shake, shake, shake and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.  Top with soda water and garnish with a lime slice. 

This is a nice alternative to the a gin and tonic, leaving the quinine behind for the clean taste of the selzter.  This allows the gin and lime to by the dominant flavors, and it works out quite nicely.  Additionally, it worked very well with the sushi that I had for dinner!

Once dinner was over, Ashish, who is quickly becoming a cocktail maven, wanted to head to Bryant’s for more classic cocktails.  We arrived to a rather full bar with Evan pouring the drinks.  Evan is a terrific bartender and about as unassuming as a person can be, and it’s always good to see him there.  For my first cocktail I was in the mood for bourbon and Evan suggested a depression era cocktail called the Mona Lisa.  This cocktail consisted of bourbon, creme de cacao, lemon juice and bar syrup.  It was mixed well and then served over crushed ice in a collins glass.  I have to admit that this wasn’t my cup of tea.  The creme de cacao really dominated this one and it was very chocolatey.  Not that there’s anything wrong with chocolate, I love it, but I think I was really in the mood for a man’s drink…and this wasn’t it.

By the time we were ready for round two, propietor John Dye had taken over behind the bar.  I asked John for something that would have whiskey and maraschino in it.  His original creation, done on the spot consisted of rye, maraschino liqueur, lime juice and chartreuse.  As I quizzed John about what was in it I nailed the chartreuse, but totally whiffed on the maraschino and rye.  I thought John had made something akin to a previous Chad Doll effort that used scotch and drambuie.  As John chuckled at my tasting ineptitude I asked him what it was called and he answered the Chad No. 1 as he headed to the other end of the bar to take of another customer.  The drink was delicious, and I figured that it was the chartreuse/maraschino combination that threw me off and had me guessing drambuie.

By the time we got to round three the crowd has started to thin out and we had a chance to chat more with John.  This time around I asked for something with bourbon, cherry heering and maraschino.  John was spot on with the perfect blend of the three that resulted in a deep, rich, slightly cherry flavor with the bourbon capably supporting the blend of heering and maraschino.  I wish I knew the exact proportions, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out one of these nights at the Twilight Lounge.

Well, there you go, a ketchup night if there ever was one.  Although I didn’t make it completely back up to par, I’m sure it won’t take too much longer!


Day 67, Cocktail 62

Last night business associate and friend Miles was in town.  Miles is also a cocktail, wine and beer enthusiast, so naturally, we stopped by Bryant’s for a drink before going to dinner.  Propietor John Dye was behind the bar and as helpful as ever.  Miles experimented with a couple of bourbon based cocktails, Gwen had her usual Love and Happiness, Pete sampled a Hemingway daiquiri and another fruity cocktail.  Me?  I had a hankering for Scotch.  So John whipped up something called the Reluctant Tabby Cat (isn’t that a great name, or what?).  The base was Laphroig 12 year old Scotch.  The smokey, peat flavor came through, particularly on the finish.  Limoncello and sweet vermouth were also part of the mix.  The limoncello was very forward and was the first thing you tasted when taking a sip.  The vermouth provided a mid range undertone.  The drink was served in a coupe with a long rope of lemon peel.  All in all a very good cocktail.  While I did not ask about proportions, my guess would be 2 parts scotch and 1 part limoncello and 1/2 part sweet vermouth.

Tonight it’s the B-52’s for Summerfest, so my next post will be a cocktail ready made to get ready for the show!