By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 09, 2023 at 11:03 AM

In case you’re counting, there are just 86 more days until the opening day of the Wisconsin State Fair. And this year, guests have yet another reason to be excited.

After a more-than-successful first year at the Fair, Owner Paul Hackbarth and his team at Camp Bar have brewed up yet another oh-so-Wisconsin concept to please fair-goers palates at the much anticipated 11-day event.

Dubbed the "Old Fashioned Sipper Club", the new venue will conjure the spirit of Wisconsin’s beloved supper clubs with a menu of hand-crafted cocktails (and zero-proof options) along with an unapologetically Wisconsin-inspired aesthetic.

The new venue will be located just across First Street from the Original Cream Puff Pavilion in the permanent stand which formerly housed Pitch’s BBQ and Miss Katie’s Diner. 

“After our first year of operating at the State Fair, I was in love,” says Paul Hackbarth of Hackbarth Hospitality. “I wasn’t necessarily seeking out another opportunity at that point. But I knew that, if we ever did decide to expand our presence, it would be important to me to continue doing what we do best: and that’s cocktails.”

Serendipitously, the opportunity to expand came sooner than expected and Hackbarth Hospitality purchased the building in January of 2023.

In thinking about concepts for the space, Hackbarth says he looked back on feedback he’d received from fair-goers during the 2022 season, including questions about why they didn't serve hand-crafted cocktails.

“Folks stopped by the Camp Bar stand every day who were surprised that we weren’t serving cocktails,” he says, "And they'd often ask where they could get one."

In turn, Hackbarth pitched State Fair on the idea of bringing in an iconic Wisconsin Supper Club-inspired concept that would serve up classic cocktails made exclusively with Wisconsin-distilled spirits. The State Fair approved and the concept for The Old Fashioned Sipper Club was officially born.

Rendering of Wisconsin Sipper ClubX

Christmas all year

In keeping with its overall theme – as well as the spirit of Camp Bar, which dresses up each year as the over-the-top Christmas-themed Santa Camp each holiday season – The Old Fashioned Sipper Club will sport a green facade permanently decorated with festive garlands and wreaths.

“Every supper club I’ve ever visited has always been really well decorated for the holidays,” says Hackbarth, “And it’s common for some of them to leave the garlands, wreaths and lights up all year long. For me, that’s a really comforting element and we definitely wanted to incorporate it into the design.”

As for the menu, it will feature a laundry list of classic cocktails, from hand-muddled Wisconsin-style Old Fashioneds and bloody marys to mojitos and Tom Collins’s. Highballs, including vodka lemonades and rum (or whiskey) and cola, will also be available. All will be made with spirits from Wisconsin distilleries including Great Lakes Distillery here in Milwaukee.

Ice cream drinks!

And yes, guests can also expect a shortlist of classic ice cream drinks, all of which will be kicked up a notch with the addition of another Wisconsin classic: Camp frozen custard. Guests will be able to order Grasshoppers and Brandy Alexanders, along with root beer floats spiked with rum. And – speaking of frozen things – Brandy Slush will also be an awesome hot weather sipper.

Also – as they say at the Fair – there will be something for everyone, including a selection of zero-proof cocktails. non-alcoholic shakes, malts and soft drinks.

The Old Fashioned Sipper Club will operate as a grab-and-go-style stand, with an ordering counter on one side of the building and a pick-up window just around the corner. The feature allows customers to obtain their beverages efficiently and easily transport them to various seating areas across the grounds.

Hackbarth says he couldn’t be more excited as State Fair season approaches and he inches closer to the day he can debut the festive new concept to the public.

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.