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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014

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In Bars & Clubs

Firefly's Peppermint Lane has put a new twist on the classic holiday flavor.

In Bars & Clubs

The bartenders at Clear, located in the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel, are well versed in creating comfort cocktails.

In Bars & Clubs

The Rum-Pumpun-pum will be available at BYO Studio Lounge through December. (Photo: Josh Benishek)

Brew City Bar Tab: Season's Drinking


Brew City Bar Tab takes a patron's-eye look at the Milwaukee area's diverse selection of bars, clubs, pubs, taverns, lounges and more. Stay tuned each week for themed bar reports, bar reviews and bartender profiles to help you explore and discover the city's bar scene.

Like it or not, winter is coming. And while this chilly season brings snow, cold and ice, it also ushers in plenty of opportunities to cozy up indoors and indulge in the rich, decadent flavors so often associated with the colder months.

For many Milwaukee area bars, wintry flavors like peppermint, chocolate and cinnamon serve not only as classic cocktail standbys, but even more so as jumping-off points for some incredibly imaginative and delicious seasonal creations. With everything from smooth spiked cocoas to spicy toddies, there are plenty of reasons to brave the cold for a night out.

Probably the longest-running holiday bar tradition, Bryant's Cocktail Lounge's annual holiday punch has been a popular seasonal favorite for at least 50 years. The punch, which is still made from the original recipe, rolls out just after Thanksgiving and is available until New Year's Eve.

Its ingredients are all house-made, but – like the rest of the historic lounge's drink repertoire – the creation's details are kept under wraps.

"It's a really amazing mix," said the bar's owner, John Dye. "It's a little bit fruity, but not overly fruity. It's very punchy. It has enough sweetness to go down easily, but there's a lot of booze in it. It's very deceiving."

At Firefly Bar + Grill, the brand-new drink menu has tapped into a few different holiday flavors. Guests can choose from the Peppermint Lane, which features Rumple Minze, vodka, cream and sugar served in a crushed candy cane-rimmed glass; the Cranberry-Basil Smash, a colorful cocktail of fresh muddled lime, basil and cranberries topped with soda and cranberry juice; and the Cloud Nine – a combination of Yellow Chartreuse, Triple Sec, orange juice and cream served on the rocks with an orange twist.

"They are just too delicious not to indulge," said Firefly's bar manager, Angela Verberne. "We will also be changing up our infusions frequently to cater to the season."

Those still longing for a spicy fall drink can satisfy their craving at Hi-Hat Lounge. The Brady Street bar's make-your-own toddy is sticking around awhile longer.

"They're a carry-over from the fall menu," said bar manager Daniel Dufek. "We're keeping them through the winter, probably through February."

Hi-Hat also has some sweet and savory creations in store for its guests as part of the Hunger Task Force's 12 Drinks of Christmas promotion. Running through Christmas, the Lounge side will serve The First Day, made with Bulleit Rye whiskey, pumpkin butter, fresh lemon juice and cocoa nib tincture, and the Holly and Ivy, made with Tanqueray, fig jam, balsamic vinegar, fresh orange juice and a Pernod rinse.

The Garage will also serve a pair of 12 Drinks cocktails: the Serbian Troubadour, made with Captain Morgan, Kahlua, cream and Sprecher root beer, and the All Is Calm, made with Crown Royal Reserve, Bailey's, chai syrup and cinnamon. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)

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