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!
Milwaukee is a city filled with people who like alcohol, from beer to wine to booze. It's in our blood, our history and now, even our cyber world. In short, we know our drinks.
On the first day of "Bar Month," OnMilwaukee.com launches the city's first "Milwaukee Cocktail Contest." Four Milwaukee bartenders agreed to compete in the contest by concocting a "Milwaukee" cocktail.
We know that New Orleans has 'The Hurricane,' Singapore has 'The Sling,' Moscow has 'The Mule,' Long Island has 'Iced Tea,' and Manhattan has, well, the Manhattan, so we set about to find a signature cocktail for our favorite city.
Hence, the contest. The rules require that the drink be from an original recipe, include more than one ingredient (sorry, but a bottle of Pabst doesn't qualify even though it is, arguably, the true Milwaukee cocktail) and it must salute Brew City -- most likely in the name.
The editors of OnMilwaukee.com chose four bartenders, one from each side of town, to participate in the contest. Representing the North Side is Mecca Nightclub's Anthony Bowie; Grace Gollnick from Jojo's Martini Lounge covers the West Side; Matty Gonzales of the Highbury embodies the South Side; and Art Bar's Sarah Mironczuk mixes for the East Side.
The four bartenders agreed to be a part of the contest in mid-January, which gave them about three weeks to concoct their Milwaukee cocktail. During the week of Feb. 6, members of the OnMilwaukee.com staff will visit each of the bartenders, sample their drink, score it and choose the winner of the Milwaukee Cocktail Contest.
The winning bartender will be announced in an article on Thursday, Feb. 22 and all four of the recipes will be printed in the article. OnMilwaukee.com readers are invited to submit "Milwaukee cocktail" recipes through the readers' blogs.
Here's more info about the four bartenders competing in the Milwaukee Cocktail Contest:
North Side bartender: Anthony Bowie, Mecca Nightclub, 3801 W. Hampton Ave.
Anthony Bowie has mixed it up behind a bar for eight years. Prior to working at Mecca, Bowie tended bar at AMF Bowling Lanes in West Allis and Bennigan's in Detroit.
"I learned pretty much everything I know on the job and from hanging out with an older crowd at house parties," says Bowie, 31. "I've always liked to have a drink now and again."
Bowie says the best part about bartending is the atmosphere, the music, the people and, of course, the tips.
"There's really no drama here," he says. "Everybody's just enjoying the game."
East Side bartender: Sarah Mironczuk, Art Bar, 722 E. Burleigh St.
Sarah Mironczuk started bartending four years ago. "I was one of those dorks who went to bartending school," she says. "I wanted to know how to actually make drinks so I didn't look like a dumb ass behind the bar."
Before Art Bar, Mironczuk worked at The Rave, Una Café, Red Dot and Tracks. Since joining the Art Bar staff, Mironczuk has invented a variety of cocktails and martinis, including her coveted pumpkin martini.
Mironczuk is also a visual artist and says she appreciates the chill atmosphere and the creative aspect of mixology.
"I really enjoy stirring it up and creating my own concoctions," she says.
South Side bartender: Matty Gonzales, Highbury, 2322 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
He's only 29 years old, but Matty Gonzales has almost 12 years of bartending experience under his belt. Gonzales also works at the Up & Under on Brady Street.
Gonzales, who is a guitarist and vocalist for The Cocksmiths, says bartending is conducive with his lifestyle. "Basically, I get paid to drink with my friends," he says.
Although Gonzales is a Pabst and whiskey drinker most of the time, occasionally he gets creative behind the bar, which is where he learned his craft.
"Have I gone to bartending school? Life is bartending school," he says.
West Side bartender: Grace Gollnick, Jojo's Martini Lounge, 418 N. Mayfair Rd.
When Grace Gollnick started working at Jojo's three years ago, there were 11 martinis on the menu. Now, there are 75 and, according to Gollnick, she masterminded lot of them. Plus, Jojo's Martini Lounge at Summerfest features Gollnick's "Summertime Martini" on the menu.
Gollnick says bartending is a good fit for her because she loves people and Jojo's fun, fast-paced environment.
"I really enjoy being creative on the job," says Gollnick, who is 26 and lives in Bay View. "I absolutely adore my clientele. and I love that they ask specifically for me to make their drinks for them," says Gollnick.
OnMilwaukee.com wishes all four bartenders the best of luck, and invites readers to swing by the winning bartender's establishment -- after the winner is announced on Feb. 22 -- to sample the winning cocktail.
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.