By Mary Bergin
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Wisconsin supper clubs have a way-cool dessert course because ice cream drinks rule and sometimes are big enough to share. They are kind of like boozy milkshakes, only thicker: A spoon is more useful than a straw when indulging.
Classic choices include the Grasshopper (made with crème de menthe) and Brandy Alexander (with brandy and crème de cacao), but that’s certainly not all. Imaginative bartenders have long concocted all kinds of recipes for creamy, after-dinner cocktails and treats that are blended or mixed by hand.
Saveur magazine describes the Pink Squirrel as a “Wisconsin original” and published the Greenwood’s recipe to explain it. The almond flavor comes from crème de noyaux, and Saveur matches the drink to Valentine’s Day because of the rosy color and red drizzle of liqueur.
The inland supper club began business as the Slipper Inn tavern in 1929, grew from there and has always been owned by the same family. Count gangster John Dillinger among the early-day customers.
Okay, most of the great ice cream desserts at supper clubs come from behind the bar, but this is a big exception. Owner-chef Jimmy Dean Vanrossum cranks out batches of ice cream and is known to experiment with variations.
Chocolate-raspberry is a longtime favorite, but also good enough to stand alone – without a smidge of booze – is the Ladybug (chocolate, caramel and peanuts in vanilla ice cream), apple-rhubarb-cinnamon, strawberry truffle and Double Dutch chocolate brownie ice creams.
“Drink like it’s 1958” is a slogan at this Bartolotta Restaurant Group supper club, where the retro vibe is all about Hollywood’s heyday, circa Rat Pack. Pal Joey is a mix of Kahlua, Bailey’s, Amaretto, crème de cacao and mascarpone in ice cream.
The drink and restaurant names are a nod to owner Joe Bartolotta, whose mom called him Joey Gerard when she meant business. Ask for a brochure that identifies celebrities in 50 big photos that hang on restaurant walls. The backdrop for each black-and-white shot is a supper club.
Mixologist “Martini Bob” Perry has invented hundreds of cocktail recipes since 1980, when his work behind the bar here began. Bring your own new idea and get added to Martini Bob’s club.
Unusual ice cream drinks include the Black Forest (with wild cherry brandy, Kahlua and a topping of grated milk chocolate), the Peanut Butter Cup (with peanut butter, chocolate liqueur and vanilla vodka) and Chocolate Hearts Delight (with raspberry vodka, chocolate liqueur and cherry juice). One drink is enough to share.
Expect a mix of classic and craft cocktails on the drink menu of one of Wisconsin’s newest supper clubs, inside the former Shorecrest Hotel, whose art deco architecture blends well with the dining theme.
Shipwreck is a mix of chocolate ice cream with Crusoe Spiced Rum, Kalani Coconut Liquer and toasted coconut. Kentucky Mudpuppy starts with caramel pretzel crunch ice cream and adds bourbon and Mudpuppy Porter from Central Waters Brewing (in Amherst). Expect a topping of whipped cream on both unconventional choices.