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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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In Festival Guide

There's a lot of adult beverage options at festivals other than beer.

Beyond beer: Other alcoholic drinks available at festivals

Although beer is probably the official adult beverage of summer festival season, not everyone is a fan of plastic cups filled with suds. Luckily for festgoers looking for something else to imbibe, many fests offer alternative alcoholic beverages.

Polish Fest is offering vodka tastings this weekend, including one Saturday, June 16 at 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 17 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. For $12, participants can sample and learn about numerous vodkas and meads.

Greek Fest, which runs from June 22-24 on the State Fair grounds – serves a variety of Greek wines, but sorry, no Ouzo.

As for Summerfest's beyond-beer alcoholic beverage offerings, Eric Heinritz, the director of food & beverage operations, puts it best.

"Although we are host to a big beer drinking crowd, we do have a variety of non-beer alcoholic beverage options at Summerfest," says Henritz.

JoJo's Martini Lounge located on the south end of the grounds has a variety of martinis – including a new-for-2012 espressotini – and mixed drinks.

As for wine, Summerfest offers signature red or white wine coolers, along with Yellow Tail wine at multiple spots throughout the grounds. Plus, at some of the Amphitheater and BMO Harris Pavilion bars three varieties of Wollersheim Winery products are available. Wine is also available at Saz's Dockside Barbeque restaurant and the Club Bar inside the BMO Pavilion.

Bastille Days, which takes place in and around Cathedral Square July 13-15, will offer wine tastings on Friday, July 13 and Saturday, July 14 at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 or $25 in advance and seating is limited. The event features a wine expert who will introduce eight wines selected from France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and more.

Specialty cocktails, martinis and wine are available throughout the festival in the beverage tents. Bastille Days will also offer more local beers this year, including Milwaukee Brewing Company and Hinterland products.

"Every tent will have different options for alcoholic beverages. There's a lot of variety," says Peter Adams, the assistant director of the East Town Association.

Festa Italiana, July 19-22, features a strong selection of Italian and California wine throughout the festival grounds. New this year, Festa will host wine-tasting events featuring Andretti wines from Mario Andretti's Napa Valley-based vineyards.

Frank Mirenda, a certified sommelier who was the general manager for Andretti Winery for 11 years, will host the event. The cost is $20 per person and will take place in the Briggs and Stratton building on the Festa grounds. E-mail Mirenda at for more information.

German Fest, which takes place July 26-29, offers up a variety of Schlink Haus wines.

Fiesta Mexicana, Aug. 24-26, has a margarita tent that offers strawberry or lime margaritas. Also, there will be a wine and tequila tasting called "Simply a Twist of Wine, Tequila and Art" event that features art exhibits, Latino jazz, Spanish rock, wine tasting tequila and beer sampling. The exact date of this event, a benefit for the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, is not yet known, but call (414) 383-7066 for more information.

Wisconsin State Fair, Aug. 2-12, has a large selection of domestic and imported beers, but aside from brews, the fair offers multiple malt beverages, including Bacardi Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice, Mike's Hard Lemonade and Mike's Calypso.

The Wisconsin Wine Association Building offers wines by the glass or bottle (to take home or have shipped) and the Wineberry Bar+Lounge also serves wine by the glass. Copa Wine will also be available from a variety of vendors.

"Several vendors also serve 'ready to drink' cocktails like strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas," says Wisconsin State Fair's Kristin Chuckle.

Hootch's Backyard Bar serves vodka, rum and gin cocktails made with products from Great Lakes Distillery of Walker's Point and Bloody Marys made with Jimmy Luv's Mix, which is a Milwaukee product.


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