Your Top 3 Favorite Local Libations
the brand new ‘best cocktail’ category in Volume One's annual reader poll yielded some crafty results
Infinity Beverages Winery & Distillery
Infinity Beverages recently moved from Banbury Place to 3460 Mall Drive, and like their new space, their passion for good drinks and cozy vibes stretches to infinity and beyond. Summer Heat is no exception. Summer Heat began as a seasonal drink, but Infinity decided to keep it on the menu when they realized how popular it was among their customers. The Summer Heat cocktail consists of Infinity’s own vodka (often their peppered vodka), lemonade, and simple syrup, and it’s further garnished with jalapeno and cucumber slices. According to one bartender at Infinity, “A lot of customers don’t want to try the Summer Heat at first because they read ‘jalapenos,’ and they think, I can’t do that. But the jalapeno is very subtle; the cucumbers help calm things down, so you don’t really taste the warmness of the jalapeno until the end.” She added, “The secret to the Summer Heat is that you can’t shake it; you need to swirl it.”
Chippewa River Distillery
The new Chippewa River Distillery (402 W River St, Chippewa Falls) serves a wide range of beers, cocktails, spirits, and more, so there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Possibly the most popular cocktail served at the Chippewa River Distillery, though, is the Chippewa Mule. The Chippewa Mule consists of the distillery’s own vodka, ginger beer, and a slice of lime combined in one of their own copper mugs. “Moscow Mules are more of a refreshing drink, and they’re becoming more popular in general. I think the Chippewa Mule is especially popular because we use our own copper mugs, and that adds to the visual aspect of it,” said one bartender by phone. The distillery and cocktail room are open Wednesday-Thursday 4-10pm, Fridays 3pm-12am, Saturdays 12pm-12am, and Sundays 12pm-7pm.
Although The Lismore is still new to the Chippewa Valley, its rooftop bar – Dive – made a huge splash in our Best of the Chippewa Valley issue. Dive, 333 Gibson St., Eau Claire, is an upscale bar with a wide range of cocktails. Many of the cocktails are based on recipes from Megan Arts, who previously tended bar at Marvel Bar in Minneapolis. The Agave Maria is the one that caught our attention this year, though. The Agave Maria consists of tequila, mezcal, lime, and smoked sea salt, shaken. It’s a smooth drink that tastes somewhat like a margarita, but it looks and feels much more elegant than one. As one bartender at The Dive commented, “I think it’s popular because it’s smokier than a regular margarita; that’s what makes it different.”