Distil – Milwaukee

Our recent Milwaukee trip was full of adventures in sightseeing, music and food!  We definitely had a memorable stop at Distil.  A dark, comfortable restaurant with urban-classic decor wasn’t too busy or loud for cocktails and noshes on a Friday night out with friends.  If you’ve read some of my posts, you know I have an affinity for this type of craft American fare and distinctive drinks.  Distil did not disappoint!  The Rosa Umada was a fantastic experience/cocktail.  An old fashioned glass is sprayed with an aerosol of grain alcohol infused with clove and placed over a larger glass with smoking wood chips.  It’s brought to your table, the glass is removed to release the smoke and then a wonderful mix of bourbon, maple and vanilla is poured into it.  It’s a beautiful presentation and a fantastic twist on a classic bourbon cocktail.  I know I absolutely want to try making this at home – you can’t get enough of the smokey aroma!

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They have a great selection of small plates, we sampled the cheese board, charcuterie board and the steak tartare.  I’m sucker for these when they’re done well.  The boards looked gorgeous and were amply covered in a great selection of meats, cheese and accompaniments.  Whether is was the duck prosciutto with grain mustard, blue cheese with honeycomb and Marcona almonds or a cheddar, salami and raspberry stack they were all fresh and tasty!  The tartare had a nice texture, just enough capers and a creamy egg yolk.  The whipped bone marrow gave just enough fat and richness to set this apart from other preparations I’ve had.

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Overall, this was a really nice spot for small plates and cocktails.  I’d recommend it for a pre-dinner or pre-theater date night or happy hour.  Clinton Sterwald is an imaginative mixologist with a keen sense of aroma, taste and presentation.  The Apartment 137 is another must-try drink on their menu!  Give them a try for the best of Wisconsin’s small bites and cocktails.  You can check out their menu and story at distilmilwaukee.com.  Dig in!

The Berkshire Room – Chicago

I travel to Chicago for business – a lot.  Needless to say, there’s no shortage of fantastic places for dinner and drinks.  Sometimes though, you need somewhere a little less busy and a little less pretentious to enjoy a craft cocktail and nosh a few snacks to unwind.  I found the perfect place a few years ago in The Berkshire Room and have made it a regular stop ever since.

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Located in the River North area just around the intersection of Ohio and State (that alone should indicate it’s awesomeness) this small lounge is on the first floor of the ACME Hotel.  The interior is just dark enough and is a great mix of Prohibition-cool and modern style.  There’s a decent selection of beers and ample wine choices, but this is a cocktail lounge.  They are true mixologists here creating interesting craft cocktails with a selection of bourbons, gins and liqueurs.  Think Willy Wonka with booze to get an accurate picture here.  This week I stuck with a simple Bulleit Rye Old Fashioned – OK, maybe two!

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There’s a limited selection of small plates and desserts for accompanying your drinks, but the true gems are the cocktails.  Try the “Dealers Choice” – you pick the liquor, the flavor profile (sweet, savory, herbaceous, etc.) and the glassware and the mixologist creates something on a whim for you.  Great for happy hour or after dinner, I can’t tell you enough how much I love this place!  Check them out at theberkshireroom.com.