In case you were unaware, May 6 is National Beverage Day! Whether you consider it legitimate or not (determining its history through internet searching proves elusive), it provides the chance to take time out of the busy day to savor what’s in your glass, mug, cup or stein.
Milwaukee likes its beverages. And there are plenty of places and potables to choose from when commemorating mankind’s need to drink.
“Careful man, there’s a beverage here.”
– Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski
Sprecher Root Beer
at Kopp’s Frozen Custard
Lavish pairings of expensive food and drink are fine, but I’m cool with much less extravagant fare. A cold Sprecher root beer is the perfect way to wash down a massive cheeseburger at Kopp’s (7631 W. Layton Ave., 18880 W. Bluemound Rd., and 5373 N. Port Washington Rd.). Sprecher’s popular non-alcoholic brew is rich, smooth and simply one of the best root beers I’ve ever tasted. And, if it’s not enough to satisfy the sweet tooth, custard for dessert is never a bad option.
Milwaukee’s Rishi Tea has been curating amazing loose-leaf tea since 1997, and Rochambo Coffee & Tea House (1317 E. Brady St.) has been a customer—Rishi Tea’s first according to owner Melissa Honkamp—during the entire journey. Take in the laid-back Haight Ashbury hipness of Rochambo, a Brady Street staple since 1995, while sipping on lively Moroccan Mint tea, made with jasmine green tea and mint, or the complex Tangerine Ginger.
Brandy Old Fashioned
at Camp Bar or Finks
If the brandy Old Fashioned isn’t the unofficial state beverage, it’s certainly in the running. The blend of a muddled orange slice and cherry, bitters, brandy, simple syrup, soda or Sprite, and ice is served at supper clubs and bars all over the state. Camp Bar’s three locations (4044 N. Oakland Ave., 6600 W. North Ave., and 525 E. Meonomonee St.) churn out perfectly-mixed Old Fashioneds in appropriate northwoods-themed settings. (Camp served a whopping 70,000 of the drinks in 2016, which takes a lot of Korbel.) Looking for a low-key neighborhood bar experience? Try Finks (1875 N. Humboldt Ave.), which flies under the radar and makes its Old Fashioneds with delicious (and expensive) Luxardo cherries.
at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge
You just don’t find the tasty (and potent) cocktail everywhere. But if rye whiskey isn’t your thing, the bartenders at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge (1579 S. 9th St.) expertly mix up drinks like an amazing hurricane, an excellent Old Fashioned or the Brain Buster, a powerful rum concoction that started (and ended) more than a few weekend nights for me while I was in college at Marquette.
at Colectivo Lakefront
You can’t go wrong with any coffee choice at Colectivo, and the location near the lakefront (1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.) is a perfect place to sip and watch the world go by. The building, built in 1888 as a flushing station for the Milwaukee River, bustles on warm days with myriad Milwaukeeans enjoying the lake and strolls along Lincoln Memorial Drive.
Milwaukee is built on its proud brewing heritage. And an explosion of craft breweries in the last two years has given the “Brew City” moniker back its street cred. There are limitless ways to experience the beauty of beer on National Beverage Day—a cold Pabst tallboy at any friendly corner bar, a few samples during a tour of Lakefront Brewery (1872 N. Commerce St.) or Sprecher (701 W. Glendale Ave.), a specialty at one of the new breweries in town. Get creative, there are plenty of options out there. Take your pick. You really can’t lose.