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While the snow is falling outside, daydreams of warmer weekends and summer evenings that justify a happy hour and a toast to the good life are abundant. Door County is home to many establishments that offer a unique experience and a tasty way to imbibe. To inspire your daydreaming, and hopefully your warm weather plans, here are eight beer or cocktail experiences that are uniquely Door County.
Which of these are your favorites or what would you add to the list?
There’s no other place to enjoy a finely crafted classic cocktail like Ellison Bay’s Wickman House. Here your bartenders do more than sling (a fine skill in its own right). Owner Mike Holmes introduced craft cocktails to Door County and locals and visitors alike have flocked to this century-old inn to taste his creations ever since.
Try the Rusty Leaf, a sweet, honey-tinged take on the harsher rusty nail, or their Moscow Mule that was recently featured in the New York Times, or savor the final days of summer with The Zombie (video and recipe here>>).
When you seek a sunset in Door County, you head to the Green Bay side of the peninsula almost every time. But to get a different perspective a trek down County Q in Baileys Harbor to the Top Deck at Gordon Lodge is well worth your while.
At the end of the road you’ll find this boathouse turned cocktail and wine bar with wrap-around windows overlooking the glistening waters of North Bay. You won’t see the sun dipping below the water, but the colors reflecting off the bay and sky are just as mesmerizing. Bonus: Top Deck offers great nightly drink specials.
We love a classic Mad Men-style old fashioned, but when you’re in Wisconsin it’s best to do it how the locals do. We tend to like ours with brandy (Wisconsin consumes more of the liquor than any other state), but whiskey is acceptable too.
Your best bet for a great one? Head to a supper club like the Sister Bay Bowl, The Mill, Donny’s Glidden Lodge, or the Greenwood. An old fashioned is good anywhere, but it just tastes a little more authentic in the cozy wood-heavy confines of a supper club bar. Pick your liquor, your style (sweet, sour, or press), and savor the flavor of Wisconsin.
For 30 years the folks at the iconic Al Johnson’s restaurant have left the plot next door empty. When they finally decided to use the land, they came up with the perfect idea—the new Stabbur beer garden.
The Johnsons moved an old Swedish chalet out from hiding in the back of the property and turned it into the back bar, ran 30 tap beers through the wall, and built a beautiful bar around it where patrons can soak in the sun in the middle of Sister Bay. Then they threw in yard Jenga, cornhole, and other lawn games to make it a perfect meeting spot for friends or family to enjoy.
Grab a beer from the extensive list, or try their blueberry version of the Moscow Mule and watch the sunset across the lawn of Waterfront Park.
Slowly but surely Door County’s brewing scene is growing. Shipwrecked brewpub in Egg Harbor has been around for 15 years, and in 2013, the McMahon family joined the ranks by opening Door County Brewing Co. Head to the taproom in Baileys Harbor and you’ll be hard pressed to swing your arms without hitting a family member, as John, Angie, and their sons Danny and Ben are almost always around brewing, cracking wise, or enjoying the great live music they bring in each weekend. Their array of Belgian-inspired beers has earned acclaim throughout the state.
On the other end of the peninsula you’ll find Island Orchard Cider, a natural fit for a County rich in fruit-growing history. Using apples from their Washington Island orchard, Bob and Yannique Purman brew ciders in the style of Yannique’s French ancestors. Tour the facility and visit the taproom in their 1930s-era building in Ellison Bay
Locals have turned to the bar at Husby’s to wet their whistles in Sister Bay for decades, but five years ago owners Chad Kodanko, John Sawyer, and James Larson added a new dimension to the bar. They turned the old gas station and service shop next door into the Garage Bar, where visitors can eat and drink under the sun while listening to live music from great local and imported musicians.
Tucked into the woods off a narrow side road in Sister Bay, Fred & Fuzzy’s offers quite possibly the perfect spot to sip and savor a Door County sunset. Grab a perch on the shore with one of their signature cherry margaritas and say goodnight in the best way as the sun slides down over Little Sister Harbor.
Before the craft beer craze went crazy, the Northrops at Main Street Market in Egg Harbor were stocking their shelves with eclectic and hard-to-find beers from Wisconsin and across the country. Closer to Sister Bay, the long-running Koepsel’s Farm Market stocks a wide selection of their own. Both make great stops for filling a cooler before heading to the beach, campsite, or your own secret sunset at the end of a shoreline road (you’ll have to find those yourself!).
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