By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Dec 07, 2022 at 4:51 PM

Snuggle up with some holiday cheer as OnMilwaukee shares stories of everything merry and bright in the spirit of the season.

The OnMilwaukee Ho Ho Holiday Guide is brought to you by Educators Credit Union, Harley-Davidson Museum and MolsonCoors

Glassnote Candle Bar ignited its business in the fall of 2020 on the second floor of a century-old building, 524 S. 2nd St. The space also serves as a candle-making factory for the Milwaukee Candle Co and has quickly and quietly made a name for itself as one of the city’s “hidden gems" for dates, family outings, bachelorette parties, girls nights out, corporate team building and even engagements.

“It’s a synergistic business,” says owner Kevin Goudzwaard. “We make candles in the back and teach people how to make candles in the front – while they drink great cocktails or mocktails."

Sound like your cup of wax? Here’s how it works: Go to the website to make a reservation for your date or group. Then, simply show up ready to make a 100-percent soy candle while enjoying a couple of beverages in a super-cozy environment modestly boasting beamed ceilings, handmade tables, leafy plants in large windows, reusable glassware and sumptuous aromas.

A chandler, meaning “candle maker,” leads guests through the candle-procuring process of picking up to five fragrances and then concocting candles at your table. It takes about two hours to complete.

The finished product – a signature-scented candle poured into a reusuable rocks glass embossed with a vintage map of Milwaukee – is ready to take home by the end of the visit.

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There are more than 200 fragrances to choose from – this year I was feeling traditional and went with pine, driftwood and pomegranate for a holiday scent. However, fragrances range from classics like rose, cinnamon and dark chocolate to quirkier smells like Fruit Loops, grass and “Milwaukee Candle Co's Bradford Beach (on a good day).” Guests also invent a name for their candles. I named mine "Yultide Flame & Fruit." (Not my best work, but oh well.)

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This season’s cocktail list is bolder, brighter and more meaningful than ever thanks to chief mixologist Ronnie Ordaz who created the menu with specific intentions.

“All of the cocktails and mocktails are very female led, meaning they are inspired by women. They also feature a twinge of Hispanic culture,” says Ordaz.

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The Mafi, for example, is a winter sangria named after Ordaz's favorite author, Tahereh Mafi. The Dottie is a gin drink made with plum soju, Lillet Blanc, cinnamon plum syrup, blood orange and black walnut bitters that's named in honor of a female employee’s cat.

During our visit we sampled ‘em all, but the stand-out libations included The Dude, a sweeter take on the White Russian with chocolate chai-infused vodka, Kahlua, vanilla chai soy milk and garnished with a butter cookie, as well as the dramatic and delicious drink, The Canelo, which is made with Casamigos tequila, Ancho Reyes chili liqueur, agave syrup, spiced apple cider and – get this – served in a billowing-with-oak-chip-smoke wooden box.

Photo by Courtney Bondar.
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There’s also a build-your-own Old Fashioned option on the menu, along with a couple of new mocktails and a solid selection of beer, wine, tea and small-batch sodas.

Goudzwaard says after two years of working daily to ensure the utmost customer experience, he’s happy with the results – but definitely not resting on his laurels.

“We’ve dialed in what we’re doing here and in the process, really found ourselves," he says. "But we are continuously trying to elevate our customer experiences by talking to them as much as possible and finding out what they want."


The success of this hands-on, make-and-take drinking experience doesn't feel contrived, most likely cause it's the real deal. Located inside an actual candle factory, it feels genuine, not gimmicky. And because the chandlers share stimulating scientific information about the process along with easy-to-follow instructions, the experience seems closer to a brewery tour than a sip-and-paint place.

But arguably best of all, what you walk away with is attractive, aromatic, useful and repurposed. 

"We're here to have fun and teach something new," says Erin Gray, Marketing/Design Lead. "Bring on the cozy vibes."

Make your reservation for The Glassnote Candle Co. here.


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.