More Than Just a Drink

Menomonie bar manager knows cocktails are about experience

Lauren Fisher, photos by Lauren Fisher

Ivy Meier at Skoog's Parkside.
Ivy Meier at Skoog's Parkside.

'Oh, that looks so good!” 10-year-old Ivy Meier thought when she saw a Grasshopper – after all, the cocktail’s main ingredient was ice cream. She was at a supper club with her mother, sister, and grandmother. They always went to the supper club when her grandmother visited to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Grandma pointed out that it is Wisconsin, after all, and with their mother present Meier could have a drink. So Meier’s mother bought the two girls a Grasshopper to share.

People don’t come here just to get a quick bite or a quick drink. They come here for the experience. – Ivy Meier, Skoog's Parkside

“That was a lot of fun, because you feel like an adult, and you feel mature but also kind of risqué,” Meier said of the experience years later, seated at one of the corner booths at Skoog’s Parkside Supper Club in Menomonie, where she works as the beverage manager. She never imagined that she would be a bartender, but a chance conversation with one of the club’s owners two years ago got her the gig. She knows that a cocktail is more than just a drink: When enjoyed in the right setting, with the right people, and crafted by a bartender who knows how to mix drinks and stir up conversation, even a standard Brandy Old Fashioned can be a rich pleasure.

Now Meier gets to give the people who visit Skoog’s the same comfortable, friendly experience she remembers from her childhood. She especially loves working on holidays, when decadent cocktails like ice cream drinks and White Russians take center stage.

“People don’t come here just to get a quick bite or a quick drink,” Meier said. “They come here for the experience. So I try to engage with people as much as I can.” She memorizes customers’ favorite drink and chats with visitors at the bar while they wait for their guests.

“I see a lot of friendships blossom at the bar, actually, which is a beautiful thing,” she said. Sometimes people meet for the first time at the bar, and strike up such quick friendships that they schedule monthly meet-ups at Skoog’s. “It’s not only about family and friends, but about making new ones.”

“I can’t even tell you how many Old Fashioneds I’ve made in the past two years,” Meier said. They are the establishment favorite, after all. Skoog’s will serve them to taste, sour or sweet, with muddled fruit. While Meier’s personal favorite drink is a good old Margarita, she can’t deny there’s a magic about lounging on one of the leather armchairs by the fireplace, listening to Frank Sinatra and chatting with friends while sipping on a classic Old Fashioned. She’s often watched as guests nod off in those cozy seats, the surest sign of a supper club cocktail well enjoyed.

Skoog’s Parkside Supper Club • 932 N. Broadway, Menomonie • 5-10pm Monday-Saturday, Sunday brunch 10am-3pm • skoogsparkside.com

Craft of Cocktails is sponsored by:

Johnny's Italian Steakhouse
Holiday Inn
South I-94