Whether you’re drinking them in Door County or in your own backyard, these cocktails are designed to capture the essence or feeling of favorite things to do and experience in the area. From the crashing waves of Cave Point to a celebration of the cherry harvest, these drinks are perfect caps to perfect summer days.
Using local brands and ingredients can make these drinks feel even more special. And don’t forget that if you’re more of a beer or wine drinker, Door County has plenty of local options for those as well.
Cherry Harvest: Simple Cherry Martini
August and September in Door County are cherry-harvest time, which means everywhere you look you’ll find cherry-flavored food, from restaurant menus to drink lists to farmers markets and specialty food shops. Get a big, bold taste of the cherry-mania with this ruby-colored drink.
- Combine 2 ounces of local vodka, ½ ounce of fresh cherry juice, and a splash of Triple Sec in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously.
- Pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with fresh cherries or a lime wedge.
Golf Season: The Jon Daly
After a hot day on the links, there’s nothing like the timeless combination of lemonade and iced tea to cool down, made even more refreshing and restoring with vodka. The drink is playfully named for the professional golfer, John Daly, who was known to enjoy a cocktail or two both on and off the course.
Without the vodka, this drink is just as refreshing and also named for a golfer—Arnold Palmer—who was known less for his imbibing and more for his cheery disposition.
- Fill a highball glass with ice and 1.5 ounces of high-quality vodka.
- Using either store-bought or home-brewed mixers, top the vodka with 4 ounces of iced tea and then 2 ounces of lemonade. Stir gently to blend.
- Add a splash of fresh cherry juice if desired.
- Garnish your drinks with lemon wheels/wedges, fresh mint, a strawberry, or a cherry. Best enjoyed in a shady place and sipped through a straw.
Campfire-Side: Maple-Cherry Manhattan
Sipping a drink beside a campfire is one of life’s simple pleasures, and this subtle but delightful upgrade makes it even better. With flavors of cherry and maple, this spicy-sweet bourbon drink is perfect for enjoying while camping or any time outdoors.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. (A pint glass or tall cup will work in a pinch.) Add 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, 2-3 dashes of cherry bitters (regular bitters work too), and 0.25 ounces organic maple syrup.
- You can also prepare the drink mixture ahead of time and bring it with you in a travel mug, water bottle, or a jar with a tight lid. Keep it chilled if you can.
- Strain into a rocks glass (or whatever you have at the campsite) and serve neat. Garnish with a cherry and a lemon or orange twist.
- You can also top the drink with ice and lemon-lime soda or seltzer to make it lighter and more refreshing.
Waves of Cave Point: Lake Spray
Inspired by the crashing, splashing waves of Cave Point, this Great Lakes-inspired drink features a combination of highly refreshing ingredients, perfect for post-adventure or just post-dinner.
The beauty of the Lake Spray is that it’s a drink nearly every cocktail-appreciating adult has tried in some form. With just vodka and lemon-lime soda at its base, it’s just about as simple as a no-frills cocktail gets. (Gin would be a good substitute for vodka, if you’re trying to capture the smell of the pine trees as well!) Add fresh cucumber and lime slices to it, and you’ve got the perfect please-all summer drink.
- Fill a large glass with ice and top with 1.5 ounces of your preferred vodka or cucumber vodka.
- Add halved or quartered cucumber slices and add 5-10 pieces to the glass. Squeeze two fresh lime wedges atop the mixture. Gently stir.
- Add 4 ounces of Sprite, 7-Up, or flavored seltzer and again gently stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and additional fresh lime juice if desired.
Supper Club Celebration: Brandy Old-Fashioned
No list of Wisconsin-based cocktails is complete without the Old-Fashioned: a simple blend of brandy, bitters, soda, orange, and cherry. There are endless variations and substitutions to this widely loved drink, but it’s hard to beat the original, served in a highball glass with muddled maraschino cherries and orange slices.
- Add an orange slice, a maraschino cherry or two, one sugar cube, and 3-5 drops of Angostura bitters to a glass. Feel free to get creative with the bitters—cherry, orange, maple, and walnut bitters are all excellent flavor boosters.
- Muddle the ingredients together using a muddler tool if you have one. The handle of a wooden spoon works well too.
- Top the muddled mix with ice. Add 2 ounces of good brandy (or whiskey) and 7-Up for sweetness, Squirt for sourness, or seltzer for a more neutral flavor.
Lightly mix and finish with your choice of garnish—maraschino cherries, brandied cherries, orange slice, orange peel or twist, olives, or anything else you have on hand.
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