Saturday, March 11, 2017

March Cocktail of the Week: The Mexican Water Lilly

In a few weeks Spring will officially begin, and here at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge we can’t wait! And to celebrate this season of rebirth, renewal, and the springing forth of beautiful flowers, we’re offering as our March Cocktail of the Month our own beautiful flower: the Mexican Water Lily.

The Mexican Water Lily is one of our oldest drinks here at Bryant’s, and it’s especially representative of a style of cocktail we make called the Depression Era Drink. For those of you who don’t know, these concoctions—of which we have dozens—are recipes that date back to Prohibition times, and were invented to camouflage the illegal liquor being produced during those years. They’re a little sweet, a little sour, come in a wide assortment of fruit flavors, are flash-blended to frothy perfection, and served on the rocks. Oh, and did we mention they’re all delicious? Especially the Mexican Water Lily, one of our tequila-based Depression Era drinks, which features tangy lemon and velvety apricot notes.Perfect sipping for a Spring afternoon!

The Mexican Water Lily takes its name from a beautiful flower that grows in marshes in the Southern United States and in Mexico. It’s sometimes called the Banana Lily due to its long roots that resemble bananas, and it has bright yellow petals (it’s certainly not a coincidence that our Bryant’s Mexican Water Lily is yellow in color). And while these rapidly growing flowers, though pretty, can sometimes be a nuisance for particular waterways and ecosystems, our Mexican Water Lily is always a welcome perennial, and has been for decades at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge.

Stop in between 5pm and 8pm Sunday through Thursday and consider the Mexican Water Lily for just $5 all month long. 


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February Cocktail of the Month: Strawberry Letter 23


As you are probably aware, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner—and if you’re not, better start working on those gifts and dinner reservations!—and to celebrate one of our favorite holidays here at Bryant’s, we would like to give you a special Valentine’s treat. In addition to featuring our celebrated Valentine’s Day Punch, this February we want you to be our Valentine and offer as our Cocktail of the Month our own “love note,” in a sense: a present to you, the Strawberry Letter 23.

But what makes this drink extra special? The fact that the Strawberry Letter 23 is Bryant’s newest cocktail creation. Co-created by bartender Jeff Kinder and cocktail waitress Jessica Shell, this is a delectable strawberry and chocolate ice cream drink (perfect for sharing!) that’s also a feast for the eyes: you’ll have it served to you in a beautiful chocolate-swirled squall glass. Just remember from time to time to take your eyes off the drink and focus on your companion a little bit.

Jeff and Jess named the drink for the classic song “Strawberry Letter 23,” which was written and first recorded by Shuggie Otis in 1971 but made a huge hit by the Brothers Johnson and Quincy Jones in 1977. The song, about a series of strawberry-scented love letters, offered perfect inspiration for Jeff and Jess, who intended this drink to be a love letter to Bryant’s too. The name harkens back to a time when Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, after a devastating fire, was in the process of recovering its former glory as Milwaukee’s preeminent drink destination, and when, of course, “Strawberry Letter 23” was all over the radio. The song proved to be a major hit. You’ve all made Bryant’s a hit for the past 45 years (and we love you for it!). So, we hope you’ll help our Strawberry Letter 23 become a big hit as well. 

♫ While the music plays, come sit in for a few…ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh. ♫ *

Stop in between 5pm and 8pm Sunday through Thursday and say “Hello, my love” to the Strawberry Letter 23 for just $7 all month long. 


*Our apologies to Shuggie Otis.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

January Cocktail of the Month: The Frosty Lady



Happy New Year! 

Well, Bryant’s friends, we’ve made it to 2017, which means back to work and all of our other normal responsibilities after a few fun-filled and relaxing holidays. This also means the Bryant’s Cocktail of the Month special is back too, and while it was away on its annual vacation in December we hope you all were able to sample our delicious holiday punch and Tom and Jerrys. Time to get back to business as usual (of course, at Bryant’s, it’s always more pleasure than business). It’s a new year! It’s a new month! Thus, it’s a new Cocktail of the Month: the Frosty Lady!

A wise man once said: “Put the lime in the coconut and drink them both together.” And, while we’re not sure that Harry Nilsson’s song served as inspiration for the Frosty Lady, that’s what the inventors of this drink literally did: mixed some lime juice and coconut with a bit of gin to make a delicious cocktail that’s perfect for January (or really any month for that matter). As we all know, Winter can be a cruel mistress, but, despite its name, the Frosty Lady is anything but unfriendly or disdainful (it is, however, cold, though). Just like Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, with its warm, cozy interiors that shield you from the harsh wintry conditions outside, the Frosty Lady’s ice cold glass (one might even call it frosty) houses flavors that will immediately make you think you’re soaking up sun on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, or, at the least, that you’re snowbirding in one of our nation’s warmer southern states. What can be better than that at this time of year? The Frosty Lady is a delightful companion to help you forget about the hoariness and bitter cold that accompanies every January.


Stop in between 5pm and 8pm Sunday through Thursday and thaw out with the Frosty Lady for just $7 all month long. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bryant’s Election Day Special: The Presidential


For one night only! November 8th, Election Day, from open to close, you can have our delicious Depression-Era rum cocktail, The Presidential, for just $4!

The presidential "Presidential Cocktail"
Whether you want to celebrate your candidate of choice’s victory, or drown your sorrows for your candidate’s defeat and concession (or even if you just want to celebrate or expostulate the state of democracy in general), Bryant’s has you covered. Don’t worry: no need to show us your “I Voted” sticker, or tell us where you voted, or even for whom you voted. We don’t need proof or details. We’re just inviting you to Bryant’s to have a good time as we make American great again while being stronger together.

Stop in on Tuesday, November 8th, from 5pm until 2am (!) and cast your vote for The Presidential for just $4.*


*That’s the price, not a poll tax.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

November Cocktail of the Month: Lonesome Highway


Fall and Winter are upon us, and, just as many of our local restaurants have begun focusing on flavors associated with these seasons – foods like apples, mushrooms, and butternut squashes have already popped up on menus all over town—so here too at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge have we begun featuring cocktails that possess what we would call autumnal and wintry qualities: the Navy Grog, our featured cocktail last month, immediately springs to mind, a robust allspice-flavored drink served in a ghoulish skull mug. As the weather turns cold, the trees become bare, the heat comes on, and the fireplaces are lit, there are just certain spirits we gravitate toward in order to keep us warm and toasty during these dark and chilly months: aged rum, brandy, rye, and, of course, bourbon. Thus, we think it fitting that our November Cocktail of the Month is the spirituous bourbon-based Lonesome Highway.

Many patrons at Bryant’s know about or are familiar with several classic cocktails, like the Old Fashioned, the Tom Collins, the Sidecar, or the Sazerac, but oftentimes ask for something that’s like a cherished classic but with a bit of a twist. Luckily, we have plenty of those, so when someone requests something similar to the Manhattan, surely one of the all-time great cocktails, our bartenders and servers will usually lead you to two of Bryant’s standards: Frank’s Drink and the Lonesome Highway. Both are variations on the Manhattan, and, while Frank’s Drink is a delicious sweet and herbal rye cocktail, the Lonesome Highway is a bit bolder than your typical bourbon Manhattan, thanks to a few special ingredients that give it its distinctive dry bitterness. If the changes in the weather have got you looking for a Manhattan with a bit more sadness and mystery, this may be the drink for you.

“Sadness and mystery?” you ask. Well, we all know where Manhattan is, but where can this lonesome highway be found? Why is this stretch of road so lonely and deserted? Is the lonesome highway an actual place, or is it just a state of mind? The creator of this cocktail, Bryant’s owner John Dye, is pretty tight-lipped about its origins, only saying that its name may be reminiscent of a sad country song he once heard, which is fitting, since this cocktail will make you sing. With a base of overproof bourbon, the Lonesome Highway initially greets you with the sweetness of raisins and vanilla, but ultimately leads you down a road that turns toward a bitter and smoked cherry flavor. We’re not sure about the highway itself, but your taste buds will be anything but lonesome.


Stop in between 5pm and 8pm Sunday through Thursday and take a trip down the Lonesome Highway for just $6 all month long. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

October Cocktail of the Month: The Navy Grog

Avast ye, mateys! 

Legend has it that the skull of the infamous English pirate Edward Teach (better known as Blackbeard) was fashioned into a rum punch bowl after he was killed in a sea battle off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. While we’re not completely certain that that did indeed happen, or, if it did, what happened to the skull bowl, we here at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge think that such a ghoulish story sets the mood for our October Cocktail of the Month, the Navy Grog, a potent and delicious rum drink with citrus and allspice flavors. Why, you ask? Because it’s served in a mug shaped like a skull. Shiver me timbers!

Although we may tend to associate rum with pirates (you know the song: “Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest – Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum”), it has just as much if not more of a connection to the British Navy. Rum began being rationed to seamen in the Caribbean in the 1650s, and the twice-a-day ration of rum and water (colloquially known as “grog” to the sailors) became official British Navy regulation in 1756 and lasted until 1970. The name for the beverage comes from the first proponent of the daily ration (diluted with water both to save money and deter drunken brawling between sailors), Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, who was referred to as “Old Grog” because of the grogram coat he wore. Seamen began to refer to the diluted and halved rum ration as “grog” in a defiant and sarcastic way, and for a while “grog” became the go-to term for a cheap, diluted alcoholic drink.

The grog of the British Navy eventually inspired the Navy Grog, a classic Tiki drink invented in the 1940s by Donn Beach (of the Don the Beachcomber restaurant chain). His Navy Grog consisted of a number of different rums, lime juice, grapefruit juice, honey, and club soda, and was served in an Old-Fashioned glass with a snow cone of shaved ice surrounding the straw. There have been a number of variations of this concoction over the years, and the Bryant’s version is no exception to this: our Navy Grog is still quite a clap of thunder, served on shaved ice (sorry, no snow cone folks) but in a novelty skull mug instead of the Old-Fashioned glass.

As if drinking the Navy Grog for a special price all month long wasn’t enticing enough, we’re giving you the opportunity to walk away with your very own skull mug! Order the Navy Grog during our Old Fashioned Cocktail Hour and you can purchase the skull mug you drink it from for just an extra four dollars (so $10 total). You can still purchase the mug if you can’t make it to our happy hour though. All month long on weekdays after 8pm and on Fridays and Saturdays you can enjoy the drink and take home the skull mug for $12. 

Stop in and splice the mainbrace with the Navy Grog for a special price all month long. 




Fun facts:

We get our current word “groggy” from grog, the first meaning of which dates from the late 18th century meaning to be intoxicated from grog.


Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Virginia home, was named after Edward Vernon by Washington’s half-brother Lawrence, who had served under the admiral during the War of Jenkins’ Ear (yes, that was a real war).

Saturday, September 3, 2016

September Cocktail of the Month: Harvest Moon




The Moon, our planet Earth’s only satellite, has for centuries possessed an undeniably enormous cultural importance, whether considered as the heavenly body that it is, a divine being, a home to various gods and goddesses, or the ultimate target in the Space Race (and, thus, a key to victory in the Cold War). In all its phases and librations, the Moon, which affects Earth’s tides and most likely provided our planet with its axial tilt and metal deposits, has also inspired the cocktail world for a long time (and we’re not talking about moonshine, folks). Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge has been no exception to this; in fact, we have a number of drinks – the Moonglow, the Pale Moon, the Blue Moon – that obviously pay tribute to the “cold-hearted orb that rules the night.” This month, however, we want to highlight a lunar-inspired drink that’s also quite seasonally appropriate: our September Cocktail of the Month, the Harvest Moon.

The Harvest Moon, predominantly cranberry-flavored with subtle hints of pineapple and peach, is one of our many hurricane style drinks, and it obviously celebrates the Harvest Moon, the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. The Harvest Moon (the full moon, not the drink) rises right around the time the sun sets, allowing farmers to work later into the night by the light of the full moon during the fall harvests. This year it falls on September 16th, but don’t worry: just because the actual full moon happens in the middle of this month, you’ll still be able to partake of our Harvest Moon cocktail all September long. 

We here at Bryant’s find that it’s especially fitting for the Harvest Moon to be our September Cocktail of the Month not only because of the upcoming full moon, but because cranberries, Wisconsin’s official state fruit, have been continually harvested every September and October in this state since 1860. Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other U.S. state, and more than half of the world’s supply. Needless to say, because of its tart cranberry flavor, our Harvest Moon is very particular both to Bryant’s and to Wisconsin, and unlike any other “Harvest Moon” cocktail you’ll get anywhere else, mainly because our Harvest Moon doesn’t seem to be an adaptation of any well-known or classic cocktail like many of our others are. 

Trust us: there are plenty of cocktails out there named the Harvest Moon, and even just a little cursory internet research will result in dozens of results. The most obvious historical precedent for any current cocktail named the Harvest Moon (ours included, perhaps) would probably come from the December 1934 issue of Esquire Magazine, which listed the top ten most popular cocktails at the time. Along with such standards as the Daiquiri and the Old Fashioned, included on this list was the Harvest Moon, consisting of applejack, lime juice, and orgeat. And, while that sounds delicious, and probably has unfairly gone by the wayside, that’s a remarkably different drink than ours. We can only assume that, despite the drink’s popularity at the time, that Harvest Moon just didn’t reflect the specific agricultural associations we have with harvests here in Wisconsin, and Bryant’s wanted its Harvest Moon cocktail to have an unmistakable local touch to it.



Stop in between 5pm and 8pm Sunday through Thursday and become a lunatic for the Harvest Moon for just $6 all month long.