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My Thursday night was an … experience, to say the least. It was confirmed that I was going to cover the SoulBoxer’s Boat Cruise on Monday; and, like the spazz I am, I forgot to lock in and confirm a partner in crime. Man, do I wish I had that partner in crime.
I arrived to the Milwaukee Boat Line 15 minutes before the boat docked and was met with a free drink token and a cool keychain. Mind you, this party encouraged yacht club attire, so one of the first things I saw was a man dressed as a boat captain — he had the fancy scarf tucked in, with the hat, the navy jacket and complete with pink shorts.
The bold man I spotted happened to be one half of the SoulBoxer Cocktail founding duo, Jason Neu. Jason looked like he was having a great time with his Brandy Old-Fashioned in his hand, and at that moment I knew … my very first line of business was to find the bar.
I ponied up to the bar with little ol’ Me, Myself and I and ordered my free signature Brandy Old-Fashioned sweet from the bartender named Libby. Libby was sweet and social, not to mention that her Old-Fashioned was pretty good. With a nice spot on the lower deck, I was ready for my solo, three-hour adventure.
We traveled down the Milwaukee River, surrounded by the little wonders of Milwaukee’s infrastructure. The cruise began with cloudy weather that had me a little nervous, but soon turned into a lovely day with a nice breeze.
As time went on, and the drinks started flowing, things started to get pretty entertaining. I eventually was introduced to Doug MacKenzie, the other half of SoulBoxer Cocktails. MacKenzie was dressed like Gilligan, but he was happy that his partner had him beat in staying true to the yacht club theme. He shared with me that the boat cruise served as SoulBoxer’s one year anniversary, a milestone that was pretty important to him and his partner.
Doug MacKenzie worked as a distiller at Great Lakes Distillery for years until he decided on doing his own thing. Together, MacKenzie and Jason Neu figured out the perfect formula for the perfect cocktail. The Brandy Old-Fashioned is Wisconsin’s signature drink, so it was only right they start out with this Wisconsin favorite.
As the first cocktail in their line, their Brandy Old-Fashioned is made with premium California brandy flavored with Door County cherries and real oranges, and blended with bitters and pure cane sugar to create a fresh take on the drink we all know and love. So, with the sponsorship of Drink Wisconsinbly, the boat cruise was made possible.
Each drink I had was refreshing and tasted just right. No, I won’t disclose the exact number of cocktails I had – just know they were all good enough for me to keep on ordering them. The vibe on the boat transitioned from one with light conversation to one with multiple dance circles. Someone even specifically sought me out to challenge his wife in a dance battle. The lady had some serious moves and it was only right that she had her moment to shine. Not to say that I can’t bust out a few moves of my own, but I never go in without a hype man.
I made my rounds on the boat, witnessing the great time everyone was having. Even though I was flying solo, I didn’t quite feel that way. Many people were very nice and eager to help me out as they noticed I was that girl taking the pics and selfies. A man named Dave told me that, despite his older age, he, his wife and all their friends always found time to be spontaneous and have a great time. These were the people that he’d known for a long time and cared for, and he was happy to share the beautiful sunset on the lake as they danced the night away.
I was also serenaded with the magic of Prince as an older man effortlessly bellowed out "Kiss." The man was so smooth — like butter. I had to wonder where on earth his lady was before the situation got out of hand. And besides, the bartender who was serving us slightly reminded me of Ben Affleck; therefore, I needed Mr. Smooth to give me a little distance.
The SoulBoxer Boat Cruise was successful, to say the least. By the time the boat docked, everyone was smiling ear to ear and had most likely made at least one new friend by the end of the night. The cruise was full of little moments — filled with lots of dancing, exceptional cocktails and delicious hors d'oeuvres. I’d come to realize that a partner in crime isn’t always needed to try something new, unless you need a hype man.
If at any time a SoulBoxer Brandy Old-Fashioned is needed, head to the website to find your nearest retailer. Maybe you, too, can have a memorable night, complete with a dance-off.
Zoe Benjamin, currently a senior at UW-Milwaukee, was raised in the South suburbs of Chicago. She is a foodie, an avid traveler and music junkie, with just the right amount of nerdiness to top it all off.
Growing up in a large Jamaican family exposed her to a lifestyle full of food, laughter and pride. Zoe’s appreciation for her family’s eclectic nature led her to celebrate the differences in others. She just so happens to especially enjoy the study of food, seeing that eating is her favorite pastime.
Ever since she was able to get on a plane by herself, Zoe has taken the liberty of traveling to every place within her reach -- whether that be the next state over, or across the seas. Her wanderlust has taken her to 10 different countries, with France being her favorite. Nothing excites her more than French food and wine. Zoe hopes to absorb and share as much culture as she can so that the world may become that much more accepting of all the bountiful diversity in the world.