Far, far from the bustling bar districts of Water Street, North Avenue and Brady Street is a quieter, slightly slower paced sector of second tier suburbs known as Lake Country.
Sure, the houses are grand and the yards are pristine, but how's the nightlife? In an area where you're more likely to find a Wal-Mart than a wine bar, it didn't take Lake Country couple Amy and Nick Williams very long to see a gaping hole in that department.
Thoroughly enjoying a night on the town, but not always comfortable with the long drive home from Downtown, The Williams did what only made sense: they opened a martini lounge in Delafield.
The Twist 'n Olive, 2730 Hillside Dr., opened March 10 to the delight of Lake Countrians looking for a nice place to have a pre- or post-dinner drink. The completely liquid menu includes a plethora of gin and vodka martini varieties, over 42 beers, a wine list and a full bar to accommodate just about any cocktail concoction.
"We have no food at this point, although we've had a lot of requests for it," says Amy. "We're considering it, but it would bring us into a whole new element that we didn't initially set ourselves up for. There's a lot of great restaurants in the Lake Country area and we really just wanted to complement them, not compete with them."
Competition is something the Williams have yet to see much of, at least in the martini market. Although places like Water Street Brewery and the Delafield Brewhaus offer much in the way of alcoholic options for the area, the closest actual non-restaurant lounge is Jojo's in Wauwatosa.
Similar to Jojo's, Twist 'n Olive is also in a strip mall, but Amy insists once you're inside, you'd never know.
"We call it a lounge because that was out focus. It's upscale -- not price-wise -- but in the look and feel. We spent a lot of time making it feel comfortable with things like dim, candle-lit seating and music by the Rat Pack and live jazz bands on Fridays."
One thing the Williams prides themselves on is uniqueness. Amy says that you're unlikely to find many of Twist 'n Olive's martinis elsewhere because, frankly, she makes a lot of them up. Taking on the unofficial role as "mixologist," Amy spends what free time she does have inventing brand new martini hybrids.
"I can't cook to save my life but for some reason I have a pallet for putting martinis together. If we're slow I'll just start experimenting and if there are people at the bar, they get to be the lucky guinea pigs to try a new martini as it is being born."
From sweet, to sour, to light, to exotic, the lounge seems to have something for every taste, and, chances are, if they don't have it yet, Amy's working on inventing it.
"I like to put a new spin on old recipes, depending on which new flavors we get." She adds, "I've been told that our pomegranate martini is the best around."
You be the judge. Twist 'n Olive is open at 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Web site is twistnolive.com.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”