Mixology becomes treat for the senses locally
By Jacob Mathias
“In my opinion, a mixologist is to a bartender as a chef is to a cook,” said Brian Cummins, owner of Great Northern Distillery in Plover. “It’s the next level of creating unique experiences with cocktails.”
A nationwide resurgence in mixology and specialty cocktails has hit the Stevens Point Area, prompting local bars and restaurants to embrace the sensory experience.
Great Northern Distillery uses traditional techniques with new and hand crafted ingredients and spirits to develop new cocktails and improvise on classics. According to Cummins, they use their own homemade ginger beer and house made vodka for a Moscow Mule- a classic cocktail of vodka, ginger beer and fresh lime juice.
“Part of it is that generational churn of not necessarily wanted to drink what your parents drank,” said Cummins. “We’re seeing the long term trend of going back to things that your grandparents drank or their parents drank. Sort of those classic cocktail hour drinks.”
Father Fats Public House in downtown Stevens Point has featured specialty cocktails every night which manager David Busch said is a big part of their liquor business. Last Tuesday night, one drink special featured contained Kirk and Sweeney 12-year-old Dominican Rum, Cointreau, cherry vodka, and white and red cranberry juice.
Busch attributes increased interest in mixology to increased availability of craft liquors.
“Bartending is mixing drinks that people are familiar with. Making rum and cokes, tapping beers,” said Busch. “What our bartenders do is they profile flavors and mix them together. I think that’s a lot of what mixology is. It’s almost approaching it from a cooking perspective.”
Sky Club, Plover’s staple supper club, pushes their knowledge and technique of properly executing classic cocktails using traditional liquors and cordials, giving those who remember properly mixed martinis, manhattans and the supper club favorite brandy old-fashioned.
A bottled version of Sky Club’s Old Fashioned mix can be bought at the supper club so their signature flavor can be brought home.
Owners Eric and Patrick Freund said that mixology is about properly blending the flavors of the drinks as well as a little showmanship.
“We know how to make a cocktail. You go anywhere else, ‘I want a martini,’ and it’s straight booze,” said Patrick Freund. “It’s not shaken very long. The classic martini, you’re shaking it…it makes it a more palatable cocktail.”
“Younger patrons coming up with ‘Restaurant Impossible’ and ‘Bar Rescue’ are starting to bring this mainstream,” Patrick added.
The Freunds said their biggest night for classic cocktails is on Saturdays, when they won’t even sell a 6-pack of beer.
“It’s the old classic night to go out to dinner,” said Eric Freund.
The reason behind the resurgence isn’t exactly known, but social media has played a part in the rediscovery of colorful and tasty recipes.
“Pinterest has cocktail recipes everywhere. People want to try things they haven’t tried,” said Busch.
Great Northern’s bar manager, Madison Wiza, called mixology “the fine dining of cocktails.”
Wiza develops many of the cocktails at Great Northern, creating flavors off of classic cocktails as well as drinks inspired by foods.
“I come in here and start creating,” she said.
“Our goal here was to upgrade the cocktail culture here in Central Wisconsin and get people’s interest peaked in some of those finer techniques and more complex flavors,” said Cummins.
Cummins said he was inspired by the Marvel Bar, a mixology bar in Minneapolis, Minn., to explore craft and handmade cocktails.
“It’s all about the experience,” said Wiza. “Reading the menu, seeing all these great things, and creating this thing you can’t get anywhere else in the area.”