Images by Kaitlin Corner.
Early this summer I drove around my new neighborhood of Walker’s Point and noticed a small building under construction next to La Merenda. The sign above the entrance had a sail boat with the words “Blue Jacket” underneath. At the time I thought, “That will be a cute store, too bad I don’t sail.” Fast forward three months, and I’m glad Blue Jacket (135 E. National Ave.) caters to taste buds and not athleticism.
The first time I tried Blue Jacket was in early August as I met my friend Cat for post-work drinks during the middle of the week. We parked down the street and walked up to the building on the corner of National and South Barclay to find an open garage door that spans the entire front side of the building.
Upon entering Blue Jacket, we beelined to the bar. The décor is natural, earthy even, but not in a bland or boring way. The bar is solid wood and seats about a dozen people. Instead of using a TV as the focal point for the drinking experience, there is a mural of the Great Lakes states that exemplify Blue Jacket’s “live the Third Coast” motto.
After mulling over the menu, I decided to test out the daily grog special. According to the board, this particular daily grog included rum, lemon, orange, mango, Cocchi Rosa, cava and Jamaican #2 bitters from Wisconsin-made Bittercube Bitters.
It was served in an Old Fashioned glass over ice. At first taste I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not; it was something I had never experienced before. After a few sips, however, my taste buds adjusted and it was and it became a nice citrus-filled drink for a hot summer day.
Cat went with her standard order of a glass of wine. Blue Jacket’s wine list includes nearly 20 offerings, many of which I had never heard of before. Wines from coastal Australia, Walla Walla, Wash., Prairie du Sac, Wis., and the shores of the Rhine River in Germany can be found on the list. Glass prices vary from $6 – $12, but as Cat experienced the prices come with very healthy pours.
As we sat, I watched the bartenders fill order for the rest of the bar and restaurant. I have to say it was quite exhausting. Each cocktail is meticulously crafted. Math isn’t my strong suit, but if I had to guess, I’d say the bartenders likely burn 10 calories per drink creation.
If you’d like to give the bartenders a break, consider ordering off Blue Jacket’s beer list. Beers such as Miller Lite and Budweiser won’t be found on the list of American-made brews on tap. Instead, for $6 each Blue Jacket offers Victory Brewing Prima Pils (Downingtown, Pa.), Central Waters Belgian Blonde (Amherst, Wis.), Summit Summer Ale (St. Paul, Minn.), 3 Sheeps Really Cool Waterslides IPA (Sheboygan, Wis.), Founders Red’s Rye (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and New Holland Dragon’s Milk Oak Barrel Ale (New Holland, Mich.).
The bottle selection is made up of all American beers, with the exception of Labatt Blue from our neighbor to the north. A few of the brews from the Midwest available are Goose Island Sofie (Chicago), Bell’s Third Coast (Galesburg, Mich.) and Hinterland Amber (Green Bay, Wis.).
A few weeks later I joined my friend Mandi for Saturday brunch on Blue Jacket’s modest patio. I was torn between Blue Jacket’s two bloody Mary offerings: the Red Snapper version made with gin and the Hail Caesar made with vodka – both made with Blue Jacket’s own mix. I asked our waitress which she would recommend and her response persuaded me to choose the gin recipe.
If I had to choose one cocktail to drink for the rest of my life, it’d be a bloody Mary, so I tend to be pretty hard to please. But pleased I was at the end of this brunch session. The gin fit in perfectly with the home-made mix and the garnish was legit – no overkill, just right.
Mandi decided on trying the Bellini offering for the day which included macerated peaches and sparkling wine ($8). Mandi said it was decent, but the macerated fruit made gave the cocktail a sludge-like look instead of a sparkling wine treat. I suppose what matters most is that it didn’t taste like sludge, right?
Blue Jacket will never be the place to watch the game, get a cheap domestic beer (nothing wrong with that, I do love me a PBR) and play darts. What it is, however, is a welcoming establishment with quality cocktails and an amazing environment.