By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 26, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Even if you're paying close attention, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest in food news here in Milwaukee. So here's a taste of what's new and notable – including Marcus Hotels’ special whiskey purchase for Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary, big honors for local bartender, and new features at Via on Downer.

Marcus Hotels to feature Single Barrel Jack Daniel’s for Harley-Davidson Anniversary
Marcus hotel venues, The Pfister Hotel, InterContinental Milwaukee, and Hilton Milwaukee City Center, have announced they will feature exclusive Single Barrel Jack Daniel’s Whiskey at select food and beverage outlets during the Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary celebrations.

The spirits were acquired during a June trip to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery by Ed Carrella, general manager at Mason Street Grill. While sampling the single barrel whiskey – a premium class of whiskey in which each bottle comes from an individual aged barrel – he was looking for an overall well-balanced flavor.

"We do not want the whiskey to overpower the guest’s palate," explained Carrella. "But we also don’t want the whiskey to get lost in a drink. Bold, yet smooth is really what we were looking for – and we found it with the barrel we selected."

Bottles will be available for purchase at any of the three Milwaukee hotels and dining outlets for $110 for the first bottle and $75 for a second bottle. Additionally, Mason Street GrillLobby LoungeBlu Bar & Lounge,Kil@watCLEAR Bar & LoungezendenMiller Time Pub & Grill, and Monarch Lounge, will be selling commemorative bottles of the select Jack Daniel’s Whiskey for $150 to be kept behind the bar, so they can request a drink made with their own private reserve whenever they visit.

Each of the three hotels will host complimentary tastings of the exclusive Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey. Jack Daniel’s girls will pass samples at Miller Time Pub & Grill on Thursday, Aug. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m., CLEAR Bar & Lounge on Friday, Aug. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m., and Mason Street Grill on Thursday, Sept. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m.

For details on all of the anniversary celebration specials and events from Marcus Hotels & Resorts, visit

Horny Goat’s Nick Behrends wins "Most Imaginative Bartender"
This past week, the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) invited a selection of Wisconsin’s most promising bartending talent to compete in the regional finals of the "Most Imaginative Bartender" competition. The competition features numerous challenging timed sessions and blind tastings by a panel of esteemed judges including Nick Kosovich, of Milwaukee’s Bittercube Bitters.

After careful deliberation, the judges awarded the honors to Nic Behrends of Horny Goat Hideaway, 2011 S. 1st St.

Behrends’s innovative "Jen and the Gin Peach" cocktail made with fresh grapefruit juice and roasted peach and rosemary syrup, was recognized as the most original mixology masterpiece in Milwaukee.

Behrends will now advance to competition in the USBG Bartender Summit in Las Vegas to be held on Sept. 8, where he will share the stage with 51 of the country’s top mixologists for a chance at the title of "USBG Nation’s Most Imaginative Bartender."

If he takes the title in Las Vegas, Behrends will secure one of the coveted spots in the third annual global finals.

Care to sample the award winning recipe for yourself?

Jen and the Gin Peach

1.5 ounce Bombay Sapphire Gin
.75 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
.5 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce roasted peach and rosemary syrup
.25 ounce reposado tequila
4 sage leaves

In a mixing glass combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled coupe rubbed with fresh sage. Garnish with one fresh sage leaf.

New things to love at Via
Via, 2625 N. Downer Ave., is preparing their cozy quarters for autumn, and they’ve added some great new menu items you won’t want to miss. Try Scallops St. Jacques, served over crisp polenta with seasonal vegetables and roasted tomato butter.  Or how about their Bistro Steak Filet, featuring grilled tenderloin with wild mushroom Chianti reduction, boulangerie potatoes, and seasonal vegetables? Vegetarians will love the herbed risotto vegetariano with grilled vegetables, shallots, crisp Asiago frico, and roasted tomato butter.

Even better, join the folks at Via for Scholars’ Thursday starting September 12th, featuring free music after 9 p.m. hosted by Milwaukee’s own Ethan Keller. Includes drink specials and wacky trivia from Keller himself.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.