Bartenders can be divided into two camps: those who love to make complicated cocktails and those who simply prefer to pop a bottle cap or pour a shot. Those who prefer to make elaborate elixirs usually view it as a challenge and, in some cases, even as an art form.
"Each time I make a Bloody or a Long Island I'm going for a masterpiece," says Matt Phalen, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who poured at multiple Milwaukee lounges. "It's always a personal challenge to top my former personal best. I make the best Bloodys around, if I do say so myself."
Multi-ingredient cocktails like mojitos, margaritas, Singapore slings and Long Island iced teas are particularly popular when the weather starts to warm up. This is good news for Kasey Kultgen, who has worked indoors and outdoors at Bar Louie, 1114 N. Water St., for two years.
Kultgen says she appreciates the Bar Louie drink menu, featuring many cocktails that have four, five or more different ingredients. The margaritas, for example, have five ingredients -- including three different tequilas -- and some of the martinis have four different elements.
But mojitos are Kultgen's favorite to make, as well as one of her favorites to drink.
"I absolutely love making mojitos," says Kultgen. "I love the entire process: the bruising of the mint, the squeezing of the limes, the measuring out the rum. All of it is fun."
However, even those bartenders who appreciate making laborious libations sometimes get bogged down, especially if slammed with a large order for numerous multi-ingredient drinks.
"I remember getting orders for five or six Bloody Marys at once and then it was less about creating a masterpiece and more about going into factory mode," says Phalen.
Kultgen says the fact she truly enjoys concocting more-difficult drinks has created positive relationships between herself and the Bar Louie servers.
"I don't complain when I get a large order for a lot of different cocktails. I enjoy it. I know it sounds crazy," she says.
Kimberly Floyd owns The Hamilton, 823 E. Hamilton St., and she says almost all of the cocktails on her menu fall into the complicated category, and that's how she likes it.
"All of our cocktails are complicated because they have many ingredients, specific garnishes and preparation," says Hamilton.
The two most labor-intensive cocktails on The Hamilton's drink list are the Valentino #2 and The Queen Scheherazade. Floyd says the Valentino #2 is a challenge because of the number of ingredients and The Queen Scheherazade involves an intense preparation process.
The Valentino #2 calls for a mix of Scotch, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, sweet vermouth, cherry heering (a Danish cherry liqueur) and Bittercube bitters.
"To make the Queen Scheherazade, first we make our own chai blend, then we heat the cup, heat the chai when ordered and then mix in brandy, Benedictine and Bittercube bitters," says Floyd.
For Floyd, making a drink that takes a little more work is worth it, both for the personal satisfaction of creating something beautiful, and also because it is usually received well by the customer.
"I love the look on people's faces when they first sip one of our cocktails: surprise, then delight. I think beer drinkers are delighted, but not as easily surprised," says Floyd.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.