Images via Kaitlin Corner.
Perhaps I’m just lazy, but I rarely find myself out of the downtown area Monday through Friday. However, when my friend Mandi offered to pick me up from work to attend happy hour, I found my way to Big Daddy’s Brew & ‘Que at Bayshore Town Center (5900 N. Bayshore Drive).
The BBQ joint, which touts its bad-ass barbecue and homegrown craft brews, opened in February in the space formerly occupied by Ovation. Mandi and I arrived shortly before 6 p.m. and were greeted by two women in scantily clad western wear and a male manager in business attire. When we asked if it was okay to sit at the bar, the girls smiled and said “have a great time.”
Although an owner of cowboy boots and plaid shirts, my love for country stops just short of music. Unfortunately, the next hour-and-a-half would be spent listening to tunes from CMT on loop.
If I had to come up with a name for the décor, “rustic ranch” might be the most fitting. Frankly, I appreciated the fact the walls weren’t filled with token western accessories like lassos and cowboy hats. One of the décor touches I enjoyed most was the white basin sink that you’d presumably find in a farm house.
The bar seems to be the focal point of the restaurant, with seating for approximately 25 patrons. There were three or so TVs on the main side of the bar, with one gigantic TV on the bar wall we were facing. I think they took the saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas” a bit far, considering the massive TV was located with only a handful of bar patrons and dining tables being able to see it.
After sitting down, we were almost immediately greeted by the bartender who was a spitting image of a bartender/musician I know in South Carolina. For that mere fact, if he did anything sub-par, I don’t even think I’d care. Luckily for Mandi, however, he was a great tender.
He told us about the food specials for the day before going over happy hour. Monday-Friday from 4- 7 p.m., Big Daddy’s offers $2 drafts and $4 “Que-Tails.”
Big Daddy’s draft selection is modest in breadth and price, with Miller Lite, Central Waters Ouisconsing Red Ale, Lakefront East Side Dark, Tyranea Rocky’s Revenge Bourbon Brown, Sand Creek Hard Lemonade, Spotted Cow, Big Daddy’s Classic Ale and a seasonal Leinenkugel (currently Canoe Paddler) for $4 to $6. Bottled beer runs $3 to $5 for all the staples, including Guinness and Heineken.
The Bourbon Sour Que-Tail, made with Willet Pot Still Reserve Kentucky Sour Mash and garnished with homemade maraschinos, called my name, and I answered. Mandi opted for a Spotted Cow.
The bartender grabbed a pint glass, moved a few feet to my left and started creating the cocktail. At every station down the bar there were garnishes lined up on the counter in glasses and jars. The stations are a really nice touch, and something I’d love other bars to adopt instead of the plastic box with a flip top lid. As little as it may seem, having a front seat at the garnish station was a high point of the night.
The Bourbon Sour was easy to drink and look at with a clean presentation and varying texture from the bottom bitters all the way up to the ice cubes. After washing down our food, the bartender asked if we’d like another round. Due to my potentially unhealthy obsession with bloody Marys, my attention was quickly drawn to the “BBQ Bloody” featured on the drink list.
The bartender asked if I wanted it made as described - with white (clear) whiskey. After he did his best to explain what I’d expect from the white whiskey, I was intrigued, but not completely sold. So, he picked up the bottle and poured me a sample. The overpowering smell was too much for me, so he added some of the bloody Mary mix. The first few sips were all right, so I went with it for the full version. When in Rome, right?
Made with Death’s Door White Whiskey and Big Daddy’s own mix, the bloody was served in a pint glass and included garnishes like celery, cheese, pickles and a piece of seasoned sausage.
Within a few minutes I was incredibly full and tired of the drink's smoky taste. It was definitely interesting, but not something I’d imagine many people would enjoy, especially with a $10 price tag.
When we settled up the tab, the bartender asked what I thought of it. II appreciated his concern, but I let him know the bloody wasn’t my cup of tea and the price tag was a bit high. He said he completely understood, and we began to chat about Brady Street's bars.
As we walked to the parking deck, Mandi asked what I thought about Big Daddy’s, and if I’d be visiting again. My answer was - and still is - if I was at Bayshore and wanted a drink, sure, but it’s not a place I’d visit without also stopping at LOFT and Forever 21.
Visit Big Daddy’s website and Facebook page to see their menu and daily specials.