"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com 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, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
You go back 200 years, and there was no such thing as a Jager Bomb. A snapshot of drinks at a mid-19th century saloon might include punches and toddies, but not the multi-ingredient concoctions we consume today. Mixed drinks in America were nothing more than basic liquors -- whiskey, brandy or gin -- sweetened with a little sugar.
Even as recently as 50 years ago, a martini wasn't raspberry flavored vodka in a gigantic sugar-rimmed glass drizzled with chocolate sauce. It was a no-nonsense combination of five parts gin to one part vermouth with either a lemon twist or an olive, and that was that.
Oh, how things have changed.
Today, upscale lounges and nightlife hotspots are more prevalent than ever and bars are constantly seeking out ways to draw in the crowds with extensive drink menus and innovative concoctions. And every once in a while, if they really want to get your attention, they'll light something on fire.
Milwaukee's certainly not overrun with flaming foo-foo drinks, but we've got enough to keep it exciting. Here's a roundup of the city's fiery options.
2501 S. Delaware Ave., (414) 461-8030
Drink: Tiki Love Bowl
This drink is the stuff legends are made of in Milwaukee. If you're on a date, the Tiki Love Bowl just might be your ticket to getting lucky. Just kidding -- kind of. At Random doesn't reveal much about its drinks, but from what we can tell, when the order's up, the bartender fills a large bowl with various fruit rums and juices, giving it a pretty pinkish hue. The drink is then topped off with a hollowed-out lemon peel filled with rum 151 that has been set aflame. Upon arrival, the waitress will ask you to hold hands with the other people at your table and make a silent wish. Make it a good one.
Bryant's Cocktail Lounge
1579 S. 9th St., (414) 383-2620
Drink: Black Magic
Bryant's is a classy place and, like At Random, it, too, prefers to keep public knowledge of the majority of its recipes and practices to a minimum. That is why, if you ask, the staff will tell you that the main ingredient in its most popular flaming drink is, indeed, magic. And anyone who's had one would agree there is definitely something special about this bar and its drinks. But, there's a bit more to it than that. From what we can tell, the Black Magic is a tall, blended drink that is quite sweet and is loaded with booze. The prominent flavor here is grape, even though there's no actual grape juice or anything grape-y involved.
Drink: Candle Light
If grape just isn't your flavor, fear not. The Candle Light is a second firestarter drink and it focuses on raspberry and peach flavors. At the bar, it's referred to as one of several "Depression Era" drinks -- old-timey cocktails designed to mask the flavor of bootlegged booze. With a vodka base rather than rum, this drink is less "tiki" than the Black Magic, and although it's just as flavorful, it's not as sweet. The fruity concoction mixes vodka with Bryant's signature syrup (whatever that is), raspberry liqueur, lemon juice and a big flaming apricot to top it all off.
2718 N. Bremen St., (414) 374-2587
Drink: Volcano Bowl
In the heart of Riverwest lives Milwaukee's premiere tiki lounge. The bar is known for crafting one of the finest mai tais in town, but, sadly, is doesn't come on fire. If it's flames you crave, the gigantic Volcano Bowl will do the trick. Like At Random's Tiki Love Bowl, this drink is best consumed with a partner. The large outer bowl is filled to the brim with sweet rums and fruit juices and the center "volcano" consists of a smaller dish filled with burning rum 151.
Drink: Tiki Torch
If you don't have a special someone with whom to intimately share a beverage through two straws, go solo with the Tiki Torch. This island-style drink is as colorful and it is flavorful, filled with a blend of exotic fruit juices and rum. And, as the name suggests, it's so volatile, it's on fire.
Jo Jo's Martini Lounge
418 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa, (414) 475-5656
Drink: Myren's Flaming Tini
Ordering Myren's Flaming Tini at Jo Jo's is something of an adventurous choice. That's because co-owner Myren Grosenick never makes it the same way twice. If you have a specific flavor request, he's happy to oblige. If not, keep quiet and let him do his thing. The Flaming Tini comes in a larger-than-life martini glass with a double flaming shot on top. Sometimes it's rum 151, other times it's a mixture of Kahlua and amaretto -- depends on what kind of mood Myren's in that night. Oh, and you're going to want to find a drinking buddy or a DD for this one.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”