The Hotch Spot
Lots of Sunday specials for the reimagined Hotch-A-Do
The Hotch Spot (1813 E. Kenilworth Pl.) formerly Hotch-A-Do, has reimagined and reintroduced its image to Milwaukee's East Side. Just off the intersection of North Ave. and Oakland Ave., the building is encased in floor-to-ceiling windows allowing the rejuvenated interior to be showcased and rediscovered by the perpetual pedestrian traffic out front.
I have to admit, I never met the Hotch-A-Do, so my experience in the Hotch Spot is that of wide-eyed, unaffected freshman walking into the chemistry lab for the first time ... very submissive.
Anyway, getting in the door was the easy part, deciding where to sit proved to be a more demanding challenge. The east wall of windows hugged a length of booths (if my Internet research serves me right, this seating did not exist before), the main dining floor furnished pub tables and the bar was lined with heartily padded bar stools. Seeing as "World's Dangerous Police Chases" was on one of the flat screens behind the bar, we obviously saddled up to the bar. Note: some pub tables have board games lacquered into their tops, like the ever disheartening, Sorry!
The entirety of the bar/dining area is as open as a bucket – not a wall to disrupt the view in any direction and the perfect location for scanning a crowd. Light boards haphazardly dangle from the ceiling providing soft light, the back bar is decorated with (what this non-metal worker guesses to be) welded sheets of aluminum formed into large rectangular pieces while the bar seems to be assembled from recycled pieces of lumber. Such is the décor of a modern, industrial interior that is both hard-edged and congenial.
As a hit-and-run suspect attempted to evade the police on the television, my lady ordered a sauvignon blanc and I, a whisky old fashioned. Her wine was delivered in a petite carafe accompanied by a stemless wine glass - the former filled to provide two glasses worth of vino. My old fashioned was simply OK, a bit too sweet, thinks this novice old fashioned drinker - I guess that’s the result of improvisational ordering. But, the gents on the business side of the bar were gracious enough to share with us the house drink: the Hotch Bomb. It’s constructed of various Stoli fruit flavors and a splash of energy drink for fuzzies. Basically, it’s a blue Sweetart in liquid form that, after a handful, will hinder all skills, not just motor.
The bartender and his trainee were very personable and efficiently made sure their customers were not only satisfied by the contents in their glass but also that their patronage was appreciated. They went as far as engaging in a few rounds of bar dice and also deliberating the motive behind the criminals’ activities in the latest police chase on TV. Spoiler alert: the criminal crashes, gets caught.
The Hotch Spot team is still working on their weekly specials, but I did get a peek at the work-in-progress list. Some of the highlights are as follows: Monday includes $3.00 Jameson shots, wine and Hotch Shots; Wednesday is Mexican night with $5.00 margaritas, $4.00 loaded Coronas, $3.00 Tequila Poppers, $2.50 Coronas and quesadillas on the cheap; Friday night offers a unique deal where an employee will choose a Facebook fan of the Hotch Spot to be invited from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. to drink free drafts while their friends drink $1 drafts (God bless you, social media); Saturday is tentatively going to be a themed night; and Sunday is all-Funday with $3 tall boys, $2 Rumplemintz shots and $3 Hotch Bombs (for Pete’s sake don’t drive after a morning/afternoon/evening on Sunday).
Tappers are few but mingled, with MKE Brewing, Spotted Cow, Laguanitas IPA and Hotch Ale (shh, it’s really Sprecher Light) at the handle. In the coolers are your favorite bottles, plus - a great surprise to me - Hinterland’s Door County Cherry Wheat. A great summertime brew if you are tired of those shandy’s and lime flavored beers … it’s light and crisp with a “Hinterland” of tart cherry.
Their food menu offers fresh burgers (grass fed organic, free range beef and bison from Wisco), various versions of their infamous cheesy potatoes and Hotch Hash, and free range chicken sandwiches and vegetarian options.
As with all rebranding attempts, it takes time to find what was originally envisioned. So, as they discover their own special way to draw the crowds, we can happily say, “Take your time, but please pour me another Hotch Bomb and bring another plate of Hotch Hash.”