Monday, August 18, 2008

A Bar Fit for Discerning Wisconsinites

Readers of this blog know its author is from Wisconsin and has a guarded affection for that state's peculiar drinking habits.

I've sometimes wondered if I am alone in my arms-length respect for the Brandy Old Fashioned, a refresher that only Badger State Boosters seem to relish. The answer, it seems, is no. There is a bar in Madison—that oasis of civility and sophistication—that revers the Brandy Old Fashioned not only unconsciously, but self-consciously. It's name? The Old Fashioned, of course.

This bar was founded by the quintet of Tami Lax, Patrick O'Halloran, Marcia O'Halloran, Daniel Moment and Robert Miller only three years ago. It purports to pay homage to all things Wisconsin. And it does, be those things bratwurst, summer sausage, Norwegian salmon, walleye, cheese curds, Door County cherries, the Friday-night Fish Fry made with lake perch, "Green Bay chili" or various local cheeses.

And beers. Dozens! Here you can actually get such antique favorites at Blatz and Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap. Plus dozens of local artisanal brews, including New Glarus Spotted Cow (a favorite of mine).

Then there is the spirit list. You've gone to saloons with a lengthy Martini list. This, my friends, may be the only bar that boasts an Old Fashioned list. Not just the classic Wisconsin Old Fashioned ("Muddled. Always. With Korbel."), but four other styles: the Bourbon Old Fashioned (made with Maker's Mark); Orange Rum Old Fashioned (Clement Creole Shrubb); Apple Jack Old Fashioned (Laird's, of course; don't know if it's bonded); and Gin Old Fashioned (Bombay Sapphire. Sorry—ick!).

They also used Bombay Sapphire in their in their Gibson. This practice must be stopped. Otherwise, though, they seem to have their heart in the right place. Next time I head to the Midwest, it will be my first stop.

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