By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jun 02, 2022 at 7:01 PM

If you look back with fondness on the days when Bittercube bartenders were serving up some of the most imaginative cocktails in the city at Dock18, the speakeasy-style space at the Lincoln Warehouse in Bay View, you’ll probably want to put the Club 86 pop-up on your must-do list.

After all, it brings back two of the city’s most creative (and hilarious) bartenders – Cameron McKenzie of The Jazz Estate and Brandon Reyes of Bittercube – all under one roof.

The inaugural Club 86 pop-up will take place at The Jazz Estate, 2423 N. Murray Ave., on Sunday, June 5 from 3 to 8 p.m., and it will include plenty of Sunday Funday cheer, plus an opportunity to purchase some of Reyes’ 1-800-Cocktails merchandise, including a specially designed Club 86 tee.

Back together again

The idea for the post-brunch Sunday Funday was hatched by McKenzie and Reyes over a casual lunch as the friends reminisced about working together, creating great drinks and shared updates on their side projects, including Reyes’ 1-800-COCKTAILS brand, which he created when he realized there was a dearth of options for industry professionals that were both practical and fashionable.

Brandon Reyes and Cameron McKenzie
Brandon Reyes and Cameron McKenzie

By the end of lunch, they’d renewed their friendship and their desire to collaborate, push each others’ talents forward and have some fun along the way.

“It’s tough to find a really cohesive flow with someone behind the bar, and Brandon and I always had that,” says McKenzie. “We definitely approach things differently, but our creative processes sync. And so it was really awesome to work on another menu together.”

On the menu

The menu (“Brought to you by the Letter “S”) features options like:

  • Sunday Renegade: Libelula tequila, lime, rooibos tea, Heirloom genepy, Pernod and seltzer ($12)
  • Salty Bastard: Apple brandy, gin, lime, olive brine, ginger ale, Disco Inferno ($12)
  • Supermaine: Restoration Rye, lemon, housemade Amaro 86, grapefruit ($12)
  • Summer of Blood: Vodka, gin, rum, tequila, orange, lemon, Riverwest Stein, Bitttercube orange bitters ($12)
  • Sboiler maker #1: Estate “Mainstay” lager with Amaro 86 ($7)
  • Sboiler maker #2: Cidergeist Zappy with Heirloom genepy ($7)
  • Super Swag: 1-800-COCKTAILS stickers, hand-printed and upcycled brand merchandise and the soon-to-be-famous Club 86 tee (mock-up pictured below)
Club 86 teeX

“Club 86 really gives us both a creative space and an opportunity to get back to some of the energy we had when we worked together,” says Reyes. “Those were great times. We were always pushing each other and making one another laugh.”

But it was also a chance to enact some of the best practices they’ve developed over the years, like reducing waste behind the bar.

“One of our goals was to make use of perfectly good items that typically go to waste behind the bar,” says Reyes. “It’s really about being resourceful and creative with items that would normally get thrown away… like olive brine and cherry syrup.”

McKenzie points to the Salty Bastard as a good example.  “It’s a great example of how we brought together products we love with things like olive brine to create a really balanced delicious cocktail.”

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.