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Test out your mixology skills ... because it's Bar Month!
Test out your mixology skills ... because it's Bar Month!

7 Bar Month cocktails to take your mind off winter

"Bar Month" at – brought to you by Stoli Vodka, Altos Tequila, Fireball, OR-G, Jim Beam, Plymouth Gin and 2 Gingers – is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

Doctors are very clear with their warnings that alcohol will not warm you up in the dead of winter. So, obviously, unless you have a Saint Bernard with a little flask of brandy, you should not drink to thaw yourself out during these subzero temperatures in Milwaukee right now.

You may, however, drink to take your mind off winter. And it being Bar Month, we tracked down some excellent cocktail recipes from our sponsor brands.

Try not to drink all of these in one sitting, OK?

1. Paloma Brava (from

(PHOTO: Jessica Leibowitz)

  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 ounces Altos tequila
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice, from 1 lime
  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice, from 1 small orange
  • 6 ounces fresh grapefruit juice, from 1 small pink grapefruit
  • 4 ounces grapefruit soda
  • Agave nectar to taste
  • Garnish: Lime wheel

Fill a large glass mug with ice. Add salt, tequila, lime, orange, and grapefruit juice. Stir gently. Top off with grapefruit soda, add agave nectar to taste and garnish with lime wheel.

2. The Black & Orange Old Fashioned (from

(PHOTO: Liz Raiss)

  • 1 1/2 ounces of 2 Gingers
  • 3 ounces ginger beer, or to taste
  • A couple of dashes of orange bitters
  • Enough ice to fill your glass

Add ice to glass, combine all ingredients, stir.

3. Spring Smash (from

  • 1 part Jim Beam Honey
  • 2-3 Fresh Pitted Bing Cherries
  • 6-8 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • .50 ounces Simple Syrup
  • Juice of 1 Lemon

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and pour over ice in a collins glass. Garnish with mixed berries or mint and a lemon.

4. Fireball Float (from bevmothirstytim…

What do you do with 25,000 photos ... and counting?
What do you do with 25,000 photos ... and counting?

How many photos are too many?

I’m not a professional photographer by any means, but I do enjoy taking pictures. I’m the default family photographer, and for work, I shoot almost all of my own photos.

That’s why I wasn’t too surprised when I noticed that iPhoto on my new iMac was running slowly. It does have to look after 20,454 photos that are sitting on its external hard drive. Couple that with the 3,349 photos and 266 videos on my iPhone, and that’s a lot of media – some 217 GB on that little portable drive.

Believe it or not, I’m reasonably judicious with the photos I store on my computer. Every so often, I go through and trash the very similar pictures, and even if I shoot 100 photos for an article, I delete all but a handful.

On my phone, it’s a different story. I snap so much, then forget to go back and weed out the bad ones. My phone used to fill up, but now that it’s more integrated into the cloud then ever, I can keep shooting and shooting and shooting.

This can’t be good.

In my defense, I curate the best photos into several shared photo streams. I print out the best into photo books for framed gifts.

But I’ve been shooting digitally since 1998. That’s 17 years of accumulated files. They started out as one megapixel files and are now up to 16. The quality and file size will only keep growing.

What am I supposed to do with all of these?

I remember helping a friend out in college after his grandmother died, and one of our tasks was going through her old photos and deciding what to keep and what to toss. This was a really sad task, and I felt like I was intruding on someone’s life, throwing away memories that meant nothing to me.

What will it be like for our generation? If everything fits on a tiny hard drive, or in the cloud, or on Facebook, will anyone bother throwing it all out? Will anyone care?

These are some deep thoughts, but I’ve been considering our collective digitized future a little more lately. Maybe it’s time. How many photos do you have si…

Will the real Andy please stand up?
Will the real Andy please stand up?

The different versions of me

I remember back in college, I came to the realization that several different versions existed of me. It was an unsettling thought then, and it is now, too.

There was the personality the came out in front of family, the one with my Milwaukee friends, my Washington friends, and even the one when I was alone. It wasn’t about being schizophrenic; rather different inside jokes, shared stories and even vocabulary existed for each group.

It was always confusing when they came together, like when Milwaukee friends visited me in college, because different people knew a different version of me. I struggled with that, and in the end, merging the the versions produced something fake and disingenuous.

The different versions of me continue to this day, but nowhere are they more pronounced than on social media. I embraced Twitter long before Facebook and Instagram, but now active on all three, you’ll experience a totally different Andy Tarnoff if you only look in one place.

Twitter is the liveliest, most self-indulgent version of myself. It’s where I get political at times and where I pull fewer punches on any subject. It’s where I make friends and enemies and do too much self promotion. It’s the most controversial, but it’s also the most amped up: even though my opinions are real, they’re certainly exaggerated. Because, unlike Facebook, where you’re speaking to your friends, you’re speaking to the whole world via Twitter – and working to enhance your brand. My brand, of course, is owner of and passionate Milwaukee guy. Even when I’m a jerk, I usually like the polarizing Twitter version of myself more than any other.

Then there’s Facebook, where everyone strives to make themselves look perfect. This version of me is much more personal. This is where I share all the family stuff that I wouldn’t put in front of strangers. Understand that I’m very selective of who I "friend," because I get more than enough anonymous trash talking through T…

Go Pack.
Go Pack.
Seasons greetings.
Seasons greetings.
Plenty warm inside.
Plenty warm inside.

Lighting up winter break

I remember vividly how hard school was. Not just the homework, but the routine of waking up early, navigating its social intricacies. Granted, my daughter is only in K-5, but still, she works hard – so I like to reward her with plenty of family fun when seasonal school vacations come around.

That’s why I jumped at the invitation from long-time advertiser Country Springs hotel to visit again this weekend, to kick off winter break with a unique visit to this close-to-home water park. We took advantage of the "Country Christmas Getaway" package, and even though we don’t celebrate that holiday, all of us could enjoy the revelry.

It starts with a trip through the biggest lights display I’ve ever seen. With more than 1 million lights on a mile-long trail, you just idle through it in your car and enjoy. At the end, you can stop in for included cookies and hot cocoa in Christmas Village, or marvel at a life-size nativity scene (we skipped that). Country Christmas gets super packed, but we arrived right at 5 p.m., and smiled through the entire 20 minute self-guided tour. The colorful bridge at the end is awesome, and I, of course, loved the Packers display.

Of course, the lights are just part of it. We’ve already visited Country Springs’ water park a few times, but never in the winter. There’s something very nice about splashing around in warm water when it’s cold outside, and I’m a big fan of an outdoor hot tub, where your head stays cool and your body stays hot.

The hotel, itself, is dated but spacious – but décor isn’t something a 6-year-old would notice. Rather, she was excited about the huge bathroom and suite, and the idea of getting room service for a pizza, garlic bread and drinks (included in the package). Starting at about $140 for a family of four, it’s a very complete package.

No water park is perfect, mind you. Like every one I’ve visited, we dealt with screaming children and boisterous adults in the hallway until …