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The "Loving Cup" at AP Bar & Kitchen.
The "Loving Cup" at AP Bar & Kitchen.

Just say no ... to the cucumber

"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – 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!

I have two standard go-to cocktails when I go out in Milwaukee: the brandy old fashioned, and a white Russian.

Usually, any bartender in any bar in this city can make a decent brandy old fashioned. Maybe it’s part of the training for most bartenders, but I have run across a few places that either use a mix (no!) or don’t have the fruit, or just kind of mess it up.

White Russians, I’ve found, are way more hit or miss – which is largely due to my taste, but it’s hard to find a good one. Or, worse yet, a bar doesn’t have any cream.

So, basically, I don’t like to experiment with those two drinks.

That said, I will pretty much try any vodka drink, just for some variety when we’re out. To this, I have no shame. I’ve had really good ones, I’ve had some bad ones and I’ve even tried the bottled s’mores-flavored kind – do not, DO NOT, do the same. It’s the most abhorrent alcohol I’ve ever tried.

Anyway, I feel I’ve been seeing a number of cucumber infused vodka cocktails of late, and after giving it another go at the AP Bar & Kitchen with its "Loving Cup," which is made out of house infused cucumber-berry vodka, pimms, lemon and soda.

Afterwards, I’ve decided to just say no to the cucumber.

This isn’t to knock AP’s mix. No, it actually was refreshing for what it was. But having given it an honest effort at several places I came to a judgment: Cucumber is just a taste that doesn’t belong in alcohol.

It’s a benign vegetable anyway that really only adds some crunch to a salad, and while I’m all for mixologists and alcohol-makers to experiment…

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Larry Sanders once got Bucks fans fired up. Now, the center was essentially fired by the organization.
Larry Sanders once got Bucks fans fired up. Now, the center was essentially fired by the organization. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Fare thee well, Larry Sanders!

It's official.

After a hectic two days of leaks and tweets, an NBA source confirms to OnMilwaukee.com that the Milwaukee Bucks have parted ways with center Larry Sanders, who just two years ago seemed destined to be the long term face of the franchise. The two parties agreed to a buyout for about half of Sanders' $44 million contract.

Once Sanders left the team following a 50-minute closed door, players-only meeting following a loss to Charlotte on Dec. 23, he made only one other appearance with the team – on Jan. 8 – to say he needed to get his personal life in order. 

As of now, it's unclear as to what happened in that meeting, or what happened since, that completely changed Sanders' outlook on the game or if it fractured his relationship with first-year coach Jason Kidd, his staff and general manager John Hammond.

The details will emerge, eventually, but as for now the Bucks can move on without the center and a roster spot has opened up for the rest of this season, and going forward. 

Hammond spoke about the situation Friday morning before the buyout was finalized, saying he couldn't be surprised that a player an organization once had so much invested in did not live up to those expectations.

"You know, if you look around sports, not only in the NBA, but all over professional sports, it's kind of part of what we deal with," he said matter-of-factly.

Milwaukee is once again searching for a rim-protector inside, and will likely have to pay for it, be in the draft, via trade, or in free agency, but Sanders was the last, expensive, vestige of the old ownership and way of doing things.

While there will be "dead" money on the books while Sanders is paid out, it is substantially less than the $11 million per year he owed over the next three, and it creates the roster flexibility to continue molding the franchise in the new ownership and Kidd's vision.

As for Sanders, who knows.

He may not love the game like some others, but he never seemed (at least to …

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Larry Sanders remains a member of the Milwaukee Bucks as of the team's Wednesday night practice.
Larry Sanders remains a member of the Milwaukee Bucks as of the team's Wednesday night practice. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Sanders still a Buck, still absent

The Milwaukee Bucks returned from the All-Star break and held a late practice at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin Training Center, but they were still without one notable face – center Larry Sanders

But, despite a flurry of Twitter reports from earlier in the day – which I tried to combat with this ...

Sanders is still a Milwaukee Buck.

He was eligible to return last Wednesday from a 12-game suspension for violating the NBA substance abuse policy, but missed the game, officially, for "personal reasons."

"He’s a part of the family, so you’re going to do everything," Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said Wednesday night. "The management, ownership, has done everything from A to Z to make someone comfortable. But, there’s other issues that are taking place in this that they can’t control. We’re just gonna wait and see."

Despite the numerous tweets hinting at Sanders' motivation, or issues, he has not spoken publicly since January.

"Until … if he comes in, we’re here to help, right? But he hasn’t been around," said Kidd, who added he hasn't talked to Sanders. "We wish the best for him so he does get healthy, so he has a chance to play because he has a talent on the basketball court and off. But when you’re fighting other issues, those become more important than the game of basketball." 

But, when asked about Jorge Gutierrez and his status with the club – the backup guard had been signed to two, 10-day contracts and the Bucks would need to sign him for the remainder of the year to bring him back – Kidd said, "We gotta wait right now because all our roster spots are full. So, at some point here, hopefully, in the next couple days we’ll be able to talk to him or someone else."

With the trade deadline looming, and Sanders' situation in f…

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The Milwaukee Bucks paid homage to the team's history by hanging its retired jerseys in the new office as well.
The Milwaukee Bucks paid homage to the team's history by hanging its retired jerseys in the new office as well.
The original championship banner hangs in the work cafe.
The original championship banner hangs in the work cafe.
The Stock House at Schlitz Park now houses the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Stock House at Schlitz Park now houses the Milwaukee Bucks.

Bucks meld past and present at Schlitz Park

The Milwaukee Bucks moved its personnel into the organization's new office at Schlitz Park in early February, but the team invited media to walk through the Eppstein Uhen-designed space Tuesday afternoon.

The plan was for a more employee-centric space that combined the history of the Stock House building and the organization with modern workplace concepts.

"They have an appreciation for history and for Milwaukee so that's one of the things I think we've all been pleasantly surprised with," Eppstein Uhen president Rich Tennessen said. "They're not trying to come in and make it how they do it in New York. It's about learning about Milwaukee and appreciating what's here." 

Following the slow demolition of the historic Brew House, windows were added to the Stock House and the interior was opened up – changes that could be made because the building has no historic designation.

"We had to do it the old fashioned way, with debt and equity, which very few people do today," said John Grunau of the Schlitz Park ownership group.. "Once we were able to do that, with the park and with this building, we were able to attract tenants."

The first tenant at the complex at 235 W. Galena St. was UMB Fund Services.

"They were the key component of activating this space," Grunau said. "Once they came we were able to really showcase this building, and one of the first groups that came in were the Bucks."

After several months of negotiations, construction began in early November and on Feb. 3 the Bucks consolidated all of their operations in the building, marking the first time in two decades that all of the team's employees were housed in one space. 

"Everything revolved around being employee-centric and creating a dynamic environment with a lot collaborative space, a lot of natural light, places where people want to come and to work," Tennessen said.

In a nod to the team's history, the organization's retired numbers adorn the walls with subdued coloring that mimics the de…

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