February is "Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com, and we'll serve up more than a six pack a week of bar articles all month long. Look for bartender profiles, drink recipes, revamped bar guides and more!
They say that alcohol is a social lubricant, but it's not much of a stretch to say it can help kindle a romance or two, as well. Just ask Milwaukee bartenders, who on more than one occasion have seen two people enter the bar separately ... but leave together.
But does choice of drink -- other than sheer quantity consumed -- have any impact on a potential love connection?
According to Bill Rouleau, a bartender at Palomino, 2491 S. Superior St., Irish whiskey is usually the culprit for the hook-ups he watches go down from behind the bar.
"I would attribute many, many children in this town to Jameson, which has sort of instilled its brand as the de facto shot of choice amongst the post-college set," says Rouleau.
"Personally, I am always secretly enthralled when a woman orders a scotch neat or bourbon rocks. I like it when adults drink like adults -- though I am often quite a 'girl-drink drunk,' myself."
Rouleau says it's the younger crowd simultaneously refuting and reaffirming poet Ogden Nash's famous quip.
"He said that 'candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker,' but it's my experience at the Pal that the sure-fire way are the candy shots," says Rouleau. That includes fruity shots like Jaegermeister, Pucker, Kamikazes and the like.
"That's the current way for the 'young uns' to get the hook-up," he says. "Stupid drink equals stupid hook-up."
And leave it to a bartender for a piece of his own make-up wit.
"Though I am in a long-term relationship," says Rouleau, "I am often bummed out that I never had the nerve to send a girl a bottle of wine with two straws. A lady that would accept that offer would be good as gold to me."
For more bartender insight, we asked OnMilwaukee.com's own Caroline McDonald, an advertising account executive who also moonlights as a drink slinger at Halliday's Lounge, 1729 N. Farwell Ave.
According to McDonald, it comes down to four little words: Vodka and Red Bull.
"I'm convinced that Red Bull makes you black out," says McDonald. "I make very strong ones, too, so maybe that's part of it. But the Red Bull is an upper, and it makes you want to stay out -- which opens the door for bad decisions."
McDonald also disputes the commonly-held notion that wine is an aphrodisiac. "Wine is a big sleepy-time drink. When I'm looking at people who are having fun, they're not drinking wine," she says.
On the other hand, she says wine can lead to amorous activities, but only among couples who have some history.
"It's different when you're out on a date drinking wine. I can see the aspect where you're tipsy and giggly, but when it's a random hook-up, you usually see a lot of shots involved."
So where does that leave Milwaukee's most famous cocktail: beer?
Recently, the world of science weighed in on that very important issue. Seems that some British scientists have quantified the concept of "beer goggles," the phenomenon that allegedly makes ugly people attractive.
According to a 2005 BBC report, Manchester University researchers put together a formula that charts the beer goggle effect. Of course, the amount of alcohol consumed is a big part of the formula, but so is the level of light in the bar, the drinker's vision, the smokiness of the room and the distance between the two subjects.
Not surprisingly, the study was commissioned by Bausch & Lomb PureVision.
The formula breaks beer goggles down to a numerical factor. The final score ranges from less than one to more than 100. A low number indicates no goggles, and a higher number -- it's shag city, baby.
Nathan Efron, Professor of Clinical Optometry at the University of Manchester wrote, "For example, someone with normal vision, who has consumed five pints of beer and views a person 1.5 meters away in a fairly smoky and poorly lit room, will score 55, which means they would suffer from a moderate beer goggle effect."
At a factor of 100, the BBC story says that someone not normally considered attractive looks like a super model.
Still, McDonald and Rouleau point to good, old-fashioned shots as the biggest make-out medicine available over the counter.
"Everyone has their own poison," says McDonald. "You hear people say, 'If I drink tequila, I'm gonna run through the street naked.' But whether it's vodka or whiskey or tequila, everyone has a shot that makes them drop their pants."
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.