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Joel Harris mixes up a mean island-inspired cocktail.
Joel Harris mixes up a mean island-inspired cocktail. (Photo: Linda Baehring)

Paint The Town Red: Joel Harris' "Kentucky Ninja"

OnMilwaukee.com and Maker's Mark® have partnered for a special promotion all October called "Paint The Town Red." We selected 10 of Milwaukee's best mixologists, asked them to share their trademark bourbon recipes, and now, we're giving you a chance to vote for -- and win $50 from -- one of their respective bars. Our jobs during this month were fun, too: we sampled each of the cocktails and are happy to tell you all about them.

To enter to win, just click here and vote for your favorite recipe. And make sure to visit these 10 bars and try these most unique of Maker's Mark cocktails, too. You'll be glad you did!

Kentucky Ninja

Muddle these items and fill with ice:
2 Orange Slices
5 Mint Leaves
1/2 Measure Simple Syrup

Then add:
2 parts Maker's Mark® Bourbon
1/2 part Canton® Ginger Liqueur
1 egg white

Shake vigorously and strain into new glass with fresh ice.  Fill with Brut Champagne.

Maybe it's because my father is from Kentucky, or maybe it’s because I have an unquenchable thirst for both ginger ale and champagne, but Joel Harris’ "Kentucky Ninja" is my favorite Maker’s Mark drink in the promotion.

I could get myself in trouble with these.

Harris, who works at Whiskey Bar, 788 N. Jackson St., has a history of bartending on vacation-destination islands and wanted to bring that fun-in-the-sun flavor to his made-in-Milwaukee cocktail. It worked.

The drink is light in color and refreshing, but not too fruity. It's light but rich, thanks to egg white and the liqueur, and slightly frothy. (Too frothy is never good, but a slight froth is delicious.)

The "Kentucky Ninja" is one cocktail I could drink during any season. And at any time of day, from brunch to late night. Yeah, keep these away from me.

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Clint Sterwald wants to shake up your evening. Or afternoon. No one's gonna judge that.
Clint Sterwald wants to shake up your evening. Or afternoon. No one's gonna judge that.

Paint The Town Red: Clint Sterwald's "My Red Right Hand"

OnMilwaukee.com and Maker's Mark® have partnered for a special promotion all October called "Paint The Town Red." We selected 10 of Milwaukee's best mixologists, asked them to share their trademark bourbon recipes, and now, we're giving you a chance to vote for -- and win $50 from -- one of their respective bars. Our job during this month was fun, too: we sampled each of the cocktails and are happy to tell you all about them.

To enter to win, just click here and vote for your favorite recipe. And make sure to visit these 10 bars and try these most unique of Maker's Mark cocktails, too. You'll be glad you did!

My Red Right Hand

2.5 parts Makers Mark® Bourbon
.75 parts Luxardo® Maraschino Cherry Liqueur
.25 part fresh squeezed Orange Juice
Pinch of Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
Small pinch of Clove
Small piece of fresh Ginger
Black Cherry Juice

Shake all ingredients, with the exception of cherry juice, into a martini glass. Add a swirl of black cherry juice. Enjoy.

"Red Right Hand" is a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song that came out in 1994, and in October of 2010, Clint Sterwald, who pours at Branded at the Iron Horse Hotel, 500 W. Florida St., introduced a cocktail of the same name.

Because of the cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger, Sterwald’s concoction is the spiciest of the lot. This works both for and against the drink. All of the flavors mix together well and are identifiable by the palate, but the strong taste becomes a bit overpowering about halfway through.

It’s also sweet to the taste, which, again, makes this cocktail one that works for the first few sips but eventually becomes quite powerful. However, I could totally see myself drinking this on a special occasion, like Christmas Eve, when I’m open to very rich and / or decadent indulgences.

And one final note: the Cave song is about "the vengeful hand of God," so keep this in mind while drinking these potent potables. Otherwise, that same vengeful hand might shake the sober right outta ya. Not that there's anything…

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Rachel Fell is ready to serve you Tom Waits in a glass.
Rachel Fell is ready to serve you Tom Waits in a glass.

Paint The Town Red: Rachel Fell's "Little Trip To Heaven"

OnMilwaukee.com and Maker's Mark® have partnered for a special promotion all October called "Paint The Town Red." We selected 10 of Milwaukee's best mixologists, asked them to share their trademark bourbon recipes, and now, we're giving you a chance to vote for -- and win $50 from -- one of their respective bars. Our job during this month was fun, too: we sampled each of the cocktails and are happy to tell you all about them.

To enter to win, just click here and vote for your favorite recipe. And make sure to visit these 10 bars and try these most unique of Maker's Mark cocktails, too. You'll be glad you did!

Little Trip To Heaven
3 parts Maker's Mark Bourbon
1 part Masala-Ginger syrup

Like Distil's Mathias Simonis, bartender Rachel Fell, who pours at Nessun Dorma, 2778 N. Weil St., named her drink after one of her favorite Tom Waits tunes.

"For me, Tom Waits sings bourbon," she says.

Like the Waits song, the "Little Trip To Heaven" cocktail has a rich heaviness and a spicy sass. Overall, it’s thick -- even a little syrupy -- with a gingery bite. Because of its strong ginger flavor and substantial body, I consider this to be a "one and done" drink. Certainly not one to knock back all night.

Instead, this bourbon drink is made to savor while watching bourbon-colored leaves float to the ground. It’s ideal for sipping while reflecting or, as the name suggests, while listening to autumn’s brooding soundtrack.

I was tempted to bumrush the stage, but I didn't.
I was tempted to bumrush the stage, but I didn't.

DiFranco brings it to NOLA's Blue Nile

NEW ORLEANS -- A lot of music lovers I know are able to brag about rare concert opportunities or when they saw such-and-such a band before they were famous. Until last night, I was not in this elite club. Sure, I have seen some really great live performances in my life, but seeing Ani DiFranco at the Blue Nile -- a New Orleans’ venue that’s smaller than the second floor performance space of Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach Club -- was by far the high point of my concert-going history.

The show was sold out and the only reason I eked my way in was because of my OnMilwaukee.com credentials. I stood in line for an hour before the show and was rewarded with  floor space about five feet away from Ani who gave an acoustic performance -- switching between three guitars -- for just over two hours.

It was the second night in a row Ani played an intimate show at the Blue Nile, located in New Orleans’ Marigny neighborhood. She seemed a little mellow at first, but "the lil’ folksinger" got spunkier as the show rolled on.

Currently, she is not promoting a new album -- her last was "Red Letter Year" that came out on her label, Righteous Babe, in 2008 -- although she admitted to working on one.

Life for Ani, who is 40 and the mother of a 3-year -old, has changed. A decade ago she was cranking out an album every year (she has 20 studio releases and dozens of EPs) and was touring continuously. In 2005, severe tendinitis curbed her ability to tour vigorously and altered the way she approached music.

"Now that I take my time working on shit, it takes me a little longer," she said, smiling.

Ani drew material randomly from many albums old and new, opening with "Anticipate" and rolling into "Untouchable Face," "Swan Dive," "As Is," "Names and Dates and Times," and a sing-a-long of the folk classic "Which Side Are You On" which she had recently played for Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday. Midway through the show, she invited Cyril Neville from the Neville Brothers on stage to play drums on a…

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