Hartzell infuses Stack'd drink list with new craft cocktails
Stack'd, 1701 S. 1st St., opened in 2009 and, because it is primarily a burger bar, beer was the focus of the beverage offerings. Consequently, the restaurant created an adventuresome list of brews while still dabbling in wine and cocktails.
About two years ago, Andrew Hartzell got behind the bar and started to introduce more craft cocktail options to the staff and customers.
"Cocktails are a big deal to me, but this has not traditionally been the place for it. We're changing that and it has been a fun challenge to make it work," he says.
Hartzell started in the bar business about four years ago, and while tending at The Hamilton, 823 E. Hamilton St., he learned a lot from Nicholas Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz of Bittercube who curated the lounge's drink menu.
Eventually, Hartzell took over The Hamilton's cocktail creation for two seasons. Today, he serves as the full-time bar manager at Stack'd and recently released his new summer cocktail menu.
The new menu features seven cocktails, four brunch cocktails (served any time) and three Lakefront Brewery-based old fashioneds.
The Brew City Old Fashioned is a combination of Kinnickinnic Whiskey, Riverwest Stein syrup and Bittercube Trinity Bitters. The Hopped Fashioned features Bulliet Rye, Lakefront IPA syrup, Bittercube Jamaican #2 and hops bitters. The Whit Fashioned is a mix of W. L. Weller special reserve bourbon, Belgian White syrup and Bittercube Orange Bitters.
The old fashioneds cost $10 or are available as a flight for $15.
Hartzell says his old fashioneds are based on pre-Prohibition recipes that were popular primarily outside of Wisconsin.
"Somewhere along the line, Wisconsin took the old fashioned and made it something different," he says. "We brandy-ized it. Started putting maraschino cherries in it. But that's not how the drink was served in other places."
Other stand-out drinks on the new menu include the refreshing Fifth Ward Cooler made with rosé wine, orange liqueur, lemon, Bittercube cherry bark vanilla bitters and seltzer ($9).
There are also four varieties of the Bloody Mary, including a bacon bourbon bloody made with bacon-infused bourbon and a house-made mix. ($8-10.)
Hartzell was born in Milwaukee, raised in Brookfield and today lives in the Bay View neighborhood. He obtained a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in art history and philosophy.
"So, yeah, I'm behind the bar now," he says, half joking.
Originally, Hartzell, who is a drummer, started bartending because it provided the flexibility he needed to tour with his band, John The Savage. The band broke up more than a year ago, and although he is very committed to his career, Hartzell hopes to continue drumming in some capacity.
"I recently drummed for the first time in a while. It was quite the adventure. Everything was a quarter of the speed it should have been and I was sore the rest of the week," he says. "But I plan to still fool around on drums."
Hartzell says he learned most of what he knows about mixology while on the job, but he is also an avid reader. This month alone he bought four books on the subject.
"Today I got a book in the mail that I'm super excited about," he says. "It's 'The Bar Book' by Jeffrey Morgenthaler who is a great bartender and blogger. His book is all about technique rather than recipes."
Someday, Hartzell, who is a vegetarian, hopes to open his own bar and restaurant. For now, he is enjoying the challenge of transforming the bar at Stack'd to accommodate craft cocktail culture. It's been a challenge, but so far, he says, it's working.
"Last summer, we hit our stride with cocktails and started to figure it out. Then winter came and people went back to drinking beer. Now, it's summer again and we have some really fun stuff happening behind the bar," he says.
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