At the beginning of February, OnMilwaukee.com kicked off "Bar Month" by challenging four Milwaukee bartenders to create an official cocktail for Brew City, historically a beer-drinking town.
The competition was stiff, but the editors of OnMilwaukee.com -- who served as the contest judges -- unanimously agreed that Sarah Mironczuk's Brewberry Brandy was the winning drink.
Mironczuk, who bartends at Art Bar, 722 E. Burleigh St., combined Lakefront Brewery's East Side Dark, brandy, blueberry schnapps and a twist of lemon for a unique, refreshing concoction that is both strong and tasty.
"The Brewberry Brandy will sneak up on you and kick you in the ass," says Mironczuk.
OnMilwaukee.com was most impressed with her creativity. Dark beer and blueberry schnapps seems like, at first, an unusual combination, but it really works. Also, having both beer and brandy as an ingredient made her drink very "Milwaukee."
"I really liked the interplay between the lemon and the blueberry flavors," says Drew Olson, senior editor for OnMilwaukee.com.
Publisher Andy Tarnoff says, "It tasted the best and got me drunk in five minutes."
The editors also liked the name, the reasonable price ($6) and that it is a drink you could enjoy any time of day, from brunch to late night. Plus, it's definitely a beverage you could drink more than one of, without getting sick of the flavor.
"No one considers beer to be part of a cocktail, but I do," says Mironczuk.
Mironczuk says she considered the tastes of both men and women before making the drink, and chose hearty dark beer and fruit flavors to balance the masculine and feminine.
The Brewberry Brandy joins Art Bar's extensive menu of cocktails, and OnMilwaukee.com readers are encouraged to stop by and try this fantastic cocktail.
Matty Gonzales of The Highbury whipped up a tasty drink called the Milwaukee Bulldog, a variation of the Colorado Bulldog that mixes Coke, vodka, Kahlua and cream. Gonzales switched out the cola with Sprecher root beer to Milwaukee-ize his beverage and created a drink that tastes like a wickedly strong root beer float.
Although all of the judges enjoyed the drink, the Milwaukee Bulldog didn't get the blue ribbon because it is a variation of an existing drink, and a couple of the contest judges found it too sweet.
"I do give him points for using root beer in a cocktail," says Tarnoff.
The Milwaukee Bulldog is available at The Highbury Pub, 2320 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., and is ideal for people who like cream drinks such as white or blind Russians.
"I could see having one for a special occasion," says OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence.
Anthony Bowie whipped up a tasty tropical libation called Brew City Magic. Bowie, who works at Mecca Cocktail Lounge, 3801 W. Hampton Ave., impressed the judges with his presentation, and introduced them to Alize, a cognac-based spirit with fruit flavors.
Brew City Magic includes red Alize, rum, peach schnapps, pineapple juice and cranberry juice. Bowie served it over ice. The drink is strong and fruity, and although Bowie says he wanted to create a drink that worked in all four seasons, it was difficult for a couple of the judges to get into such a beach-y drink during the winter.
Plus, except in name, Brew City Magic doesn't have a strong Milwaukee connection, and Bowie admitted to creating the drink before the contest. Still, stop in and ask Bowie to mix up a Brew City Magic and decide for your self. It's definitely a potent potable with a lot of panache.
Finally, Jojo's Martini Lounge's Grace Gollnick wowed us with her presentation of her Chocolate Eclair Martini. The inside of the martini glass was coated with chocolate and the drink itself featured Riverwest's Rehorst vodka, Dr. Vanillacuddy's and cream. She garnished with crumbled pastry, a cream-filled cookie "stir stick" and a cherry for a delicious, decadent drink.
However, this martini didn't say "Milwaukee" -- it was simply too froufrou and is perhaps too pricey for the city.
Gollnick says she originally attempted to create a Cream Puff Martini to tribute the Wisconsin State Fair, which might have been a better choice for the contest. A couple of the editors wished she had called it the "Eau Claire Martini" to give it a Wisconsin tie.
The judges did appreciate Gollnick's professional manner -- she was the only bartender who served water with her cocktail -- and her creativity. The Chocolate Éclair Martini is available at Jojo's Martini Lounge, 418 N. Mayfair Rd., for $11.50.