Experimentation for the sake of sustainability makes Lost Whale (2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) one of the most innovative and environmentally progressive craft cocktail bars in the city.
On opening night in July, owners Tripper Duval and Daniel Beres used the normally discarded hulls and “goop” (left from juicing strawberries for soda) to enhance a simple syrup for a kegged batch of Tom Collins.
If you want to see their brains working, give them something that normally gets tossed away, like croissants from a local coffee shop that gave them the idea to craft an unusual liqueur made of pastry-steeped (and strained) orange curaçao. These salvaged creations find their way onto a special chalkboard, which could feature three limited-release cocktails or none, the owners say, depending on the bar’s waste and customer demand. And the cocktail shown above, Oops Not Berry’s (bourbon and rye whiskey, with Crunch Berries cereal-infused coconut milk, Jolly Good fruit punch, amaretto and a blue whale gummy), is an apt manifestation of the Whale’s eco-conscious mindset.
4 Ways Lost Whale Goes Green
Not every drink demands a straw, Beres says, but when essential, the bar uses paper (as seen here) or compostable plastic straws that are made from corn and break down in 100 days.
Jolly good can
Since the soda from vintage Sheboygan pop purveyor is mixed with this cocktail, why not simply use the can to serve the drink? It provides a bold visual statement, and the can is recycled.
Along with trash and recycling bins behind the bar, a third receptacle is for compostable ingredients, including garnishes such as fresh mint. There’s even a local farmer who comes by every week to pick up the organic remains
Naturally, much of the chic mid-century modern furniture comes secondhand from Habitat for Humanity ReStores throughout the state.
Q&A with Lost Whale Owners
Lost Whale owners Tripper Duval and Daniel Beres chat about the bar’s eco-friendly business practices, moving into the old Boone & Crocket space and how their different personalities make for a well-run establishment.
What were your aspirations for the bar?
Beres: We are environmentally conscious people. We wanted to implement that into the business. Do we need a straw for every drink? We give people the option. We find ways to lower our footprint by using compostable trash bags, making sure all our paper products come from recycled fiber and then recycling them again.
How have you been using salvaged ingredients?
Beres: We’re using those for events and we have a chalkboard that will have special, rotating cocktails and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Some days you might come in and there might not be anything on the board because we’ve used up everything. Some weeks you might see one cocktail, others you might see two or three. It all depends on what people are ordering and what our waste is.
What was something you wanted to keep from Boone & Crockett?
Duval: I used to call [Boone & Crockett] ‘The Cheers of Milwaukee’ because every time I came here there were six people I already knew. I just felt at home here. That atmosphere is what I wanted to keep.
How are you different?
Beres: We knew we were going to get compared to Boone & Crockett. We wanted people to go, ‘This is the complete opposite of what Boone & Crockett was.’ Boone & Crockett felt like an 1880s lodge. We joke that we literally just fast-forwarded 80 years. Now we’re 1960 mid-century modern.
What strength does each of you bring to the bar?
Beres: [Duval] is always cool as a cucumber, keeps his wits about him and can diffuse any situation. That side makes people want to come here. He keeps everything sane and together. I’m a calculated and planned-out person and when things don’t go according to plan, I’m that guy that needs to go downstairs and take five. I have him as my rock to lean on for that.
Duval: We are both similar in a lot of ways, as far as cocktail creativity, hospitality, attention to detail. The differences that we have are the perfect blend. For example, if I call Spectrum because our Internet’s down, I’m the guy that’s too nice, and then he’ll call and be like, “If this is not fixed right now period, there’s going to be hell to pay.”
Beres: Good cop, bad cop, I guess you could say.