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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Craft Cocktails and Pop-up Dinners

The Hamilton adds food to its menu of signature drinks

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Known for its creative craft cocktails, The Hamilton (823 E. Hamilton St.) has always been a great place for the drink aficionado. Now, in addition to its catered events, the lounge is incorporating daily appetizers and pop-up dinners into its repertoire, which makes it a great place for foodies as well as drinkers.

The lounge itself is separate from the 2,400-square-foot private event space. It has a patio in summer and dogs are allowed during happy hour. The ambient, swanky, tasteful environs make it perfect for dates or just relaxing with friends.  

In addition to their impressive selection of around 50 wines and champagnes, and wide selection of microbrewed and local beers, their liquor list is staggering. The bartenders are liquid artists, trained by Bittercube, well versed in helping guests select the perfect cocktail for their palate. They use top-quality ingredients and perfectly measure them to provide balanced, well-made upscale cocktails. The Hamilton makes a lot of in-house syrups, like coffee, pear and rutabaga. Various flavors are incorporated, such as herbs and interesting spices like cardamom and caraway seed. They make fresh homemade juices every day, and also in-house liqueurs such as Cocoa nib, orange and cucumber ginger.

Try one of their signature cocktails. Every drink has a “background story.” The “Windsor Forest” is based on a poem by Alexander Pope, and is made with Citadel gin, green chartreuse liqueur, rosemary tincture and lime. The new spring menu will feature (among others) “Fly by Eiffel” with Rehorst gin, lemon and peach liqueur, Suze liqueur and basil tincture. From 5-7 p.m., these specialty cocktails are $2 off the regular price.  

The Hamilton owner Kimberly Floyd is now working with several of her pre-established catering partners to create a happy hour food menu. “Our guests were asking for it. We have an incredible deck and people wanted to stay, but they were getting hungry,” says Floyd. She decided to give them a way to satiate a few hunger pangs without interfering with their dinner plans. “It’s an incredible foodie city. Why complicate that?” Some nearby restaurants, like Brocach, also deliver to The Hamilton.

The caterers bring all the equipment and prepared food. “I’m not ready to go down the road and make some real changes like getting a kitchen and preparing the food,” says Floyd. She works with specific caterers due to their efficiency. “The reason I’m working with the ones right now is that they’re extremely close. Everybody is a mile away so everything is fresh, which is very important.”

Right now The Hamilton is featuring Cubanitas’ slightly sweet pork sliders on Tuesdays, starting at 5 p.m. and depending on popularity, may serve them every day. Also from Cubanitas’ are hand-cut chips with bleu cheese dip. Floyd says, “The chips are unbelievably crispy and thin. People put the pulled pork on the chip and top it with bleu cheese and it’s nirvana.” There are also chocolate truffles that pair well with a Manhattan or any bourbon-based cocktail. West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe provides cheese and charcuterie plates. 

Floyd is also planning on using her space to host pop-up dinners. “We’re looking to make a dinner with courses and cocktail pairing,” she says. “We’re not locked into one kitchen and one chef and one style. It’s about a food and drink experience that’s a one-time thing.”