The Old Sugar Distillery produces small-batch liquors made from Midwestern ingredients. Its cornerstone concoction, the Old Sugar Factory Honey Liqueur, is distilled from dark-brown beet sugar and then aged in a wooden womb of American oak before being subtly sweetened with pure Wisconsin honey. The Cane and Abe Freshwater Rum, named in honor of President Lincoln and his favorite criminal-scaring stick, is made with cane sugar lovingly beamed up from the saccharine states of Hawaii and Louisiana and then aged in charred American oak barrels. These luscious liquids can be sampled either by sipping a freshly made cocktail ($6) at the distillery's long wooden bar, or by buying a bottle ($30) for midnight sips in the dead chill of winter. The Old Sugar Distillery also offers free tours and tastings with up-close views of the large copper pot still.
Flatlander's pampers malt-pining palates by balancing a seasonal lineup of more than seven house-made brews with a diverse menu ranging from classic pub fare to gourmet entrees. Beer flights guide diners through five distillations and the on-site brewmaster ensures appetizers highlight each brews best qualities, matching seared asian ahi to the crispness of the Jackson Wit and spicy jumbo wings to the Flatlander IPA's training as a firefighter. Thick cuts of homestyle meatloaf and crispy morsels of fish and chips embody the roles of classic pub fare, subtly supported by gourmet-inspired castmates such as linguine pomodoro and USDA-prime center-cut filet mignon. An arsenal of 13 hearty burgers accessorized with toppings such as pulled pork, guacamole, or fried onions gratify any diet while bookended around a choice of USDA-prime chuck, ground turkey, veggie, or peppermint patties.
With a background brewing beer, Jim Wirsching-Neuser was immediately interested when his wife suggested that they create a wine with which to toast at their wedding in 2001. More than a decade later, the two have refined their winemaking processes and recipes to create an impressive selection of varietals using juices from wine grapes produced around the globe. Inside their tasting room, guests sample pours from each of the house-made wines, a selection which may vary according to the season and the sommelier’s ability to juggle. The elixirs may include a faintly tart blueberry pinot noir, dry Tuscan chianti, and Johannesburg riesling, which bursts with fruity notes before breaking through into a smooth dryness.
A sign outside of Sir James Pub's storefront modestly advertises "Imported Beer." What it fails to mention is the gargantuan selection of more than 550 brews available inside. Along with several cans and drafts, Sir James houses 500-plus bottles hailing from renowned craft breweries such as Samuel Smith and Dogfish Head, named for the gilled canine that pens all the brewery's recipes.
Knowledgeable about all the pub's pours, bartenders happily help patrons navigate the menu or select whiskeys, bourbons, or scotches to pair with their brews. To further complement its libations, Sir James frequently hosts events such as beer and cheese tastings, live music, and karaoke.
The oenophiles at Grapes and Tastes perk up both amateur and experienced palates with an enormous assortment of more than 300 wines crafted from grape varietals from across the globe. Aspiring vino virtuosos can sample six selections during Grapes and Tastes’ Around the World with Wine Tasting event and discover a new favorite bottle to house cabernet-flavored miniature schooners. The tasting event showcases an extensive range of flavor profiles, appellations, price points, and adjectives such as oaky, in between sips, swirls, and fun-induced sneezing fits. Tastings are held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays from April 5 until May 26. (No tastings will be held on April 9 or May 14). Please see the Grapes and Tastes website for directions.
Riverside dishes up a delectable menu of American favorites and handcrafted beverages against the backdrop of the Milwaukee River's placid flow. Feast on a fleet of specialty sandwiches, including a quartet of grilled paninis teeming with tasty portobello, prime rib, or tuscan chicken ($8.95–$10.95) and a saucy slew of barbecue baby back ribs lounging with fresh veggies on a grilled kaiser roll ($8.95). Carnivorous patrons can sink mouth swords into a lean petite sirloin filet ($15.95) or savor a cluster of skewered tequila-lime shrimp grilled in butter ($18.95). A crab and lobster ravioli bursting with crab mousse, drawn butter, and a charming bouquet of fresh herbs courts a shy blush alfredo bedecked in a ravishing parmesan crumble ($24.95).