By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 07, 2012 at 11:54 AM

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The Great Lakes Distillery tasting room has opened at 616 W. Virginia, at the corner of 6th and Virginia, adjacent to the distillery, in Walker's Point.

A patio that can accommodate about 65 people and offers views of the now-booming area – including the Iron Horse Hotel, Conejito's and Juto across the street – and out toward the Downtown skyline, too, is still under construction.

The tasting room contains a bar (lined with slats from oak barrels), a shop selling Rehorst spirits, along with glassware, T-shirts and more, and a pair of windows that look down into the distillery below.

But, unlike a tavern, the tasting room doesn't have a liquor license and can only offer products made on-site. However, with all the activity taking place downstairs, there's a lot to choose from.

"Even though this looks like a bar now," says Great Lakes' master distiller and product manager Doug Mackenzie, "the same rules apply as down there (in the distillery).

"We don't sell beer, we don't sell wine. But we've got a great staff (and) they'll take our bottles of vodka and make homemade orange liqueur, homemade coffee liqueur. So there's always going to be a rotating menu of different cocktails depending on what we've got in stock and what the guys have made up here."

The tasting room is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. until midnight, and Sunday from 10 until 8 p.m.

Distillery tours are offered at 2 and 4 p.m. daily. There are also tours at 6 p.m. Friday, and at 1 and 3 on Saturday.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.