Old Sugar Distillery, Madison, WI

About a month in on the new town, almost the end of summer-ish - time for a stiff cocktail in the afternoon. 

I headed out by bike to Old Sugar Distillery just west of the Capitol. It's a pretty cool spot - kind of classic brewery/distillery set-up with tables outside in summer and more tables inside. Then you add in some shiny distilling stills, a reclaimed wood bar, extra picnic tables, aging barrels, and voila! Distillery. 

They seem to take their spirits seriously, 
as do I! Well, maybe not so much me.

They have an extensive, well-laid out menu of their cocktails, along with a description of each spirit they distill. 

They had some great looking cocktails and stronger drinks too. I settled on a Gringo. It promised horchata, honey liqueur, spices and a kicker of a Snickers ice cream bar - yes, please!

I'd show a picture of mine, but not only did I neglect to snap one, it would pretty much just look like a glass of milk with ice. Not too exciting. It was pretty fun to see most of the cocktails as they came out with each patron. There is plenty to try on subsequent visits. 

What also impressed me was the full run of items on the menu. Both in terms of drinks, two pages worth, and their available bottles to take home (two sizes), merchandise, and even gift ideas. 

For those eagle-eye or more curious readers, you may also notice their distillery name and one of their liqueurs harkens back to another Madison landmark, know as the Old Sugar Factory in the early 1900's, or more recently as the Garver Feed Mill. This building, as it happens, was on my bike route to the distillery and seems to be up for a rehab project that will turn its large space into a community food space for bakers, brewers and the like. It is in rough shape right now, someone has a big project ahead of themselves. 

At its inception, it produced beet sugar from farmers in a 100 mile radius. Most recently, it was a feed mill producing food for livestock animals. Fun. 

Not only do I look forward to more strong drinks at Old Sugar Distillery as the summer turns to fall, but I also look forward to seeing what happens at the namesake factory. 



Re-transplanted, again.

For those that read this blog and might not know already, I've been transplanted again. This time it's to Madison, WI. From now on, I think it'll be fair to presume many of my posts will be about this new-to-me city. 

Here are a few highlights already...

Now I'm sure it won't all be sunshine and baked goods, but one can hope. 

Graze, Madison, WI

Before moving to this city, I had to make sure some of the lofted eateries were on point. One place to check was Graze. We went on a busy summer night, and it was packed. People seemed happy to wait 30-60 minutes for a table. Luckily, we snaked some spots at the bar. Personally, I think being at the bar alleys you to see and hear much more, so it was fine with me. 

We started with drinks, which can be a real debate for the drinker. Take a look:

I went with a local beer, and we decided on some deep fried pickle chips, delicious. 

On to what to eat for dinner. Again, you have a lot to decide, but by no means is any of it overwhelming, it's just fun to see such cool stuff on the menu and think about eating it. 

Now I know what you're thinking, "What did you get Marty?!" And that's a good question. 

I went with a Asian theme, trying some pork belly buns and then a Korean bulgogi beef bowl. 

While the flavor a were good, there was some disappointment with my choices and their service. I wished I had read the menu more carefully and realized the buns were pork BELLY and not just the pork butt. I'm not a fan of pork belly. It's also in almost every "hip" joint. I find it to have a terrible mouth feel and almost no taste. Maybe it goes back to cold Polish Easter morning breakfasts, but it's not for me. Plus, it simply can't be good for you.

It also was delayed in the service and came about the same time as my bowl. It wasn't a deal breaker, they were very busy, and it was comp'ed...but it just felt funny on my first visit. 

The bowl was full of wonderful flavors, but one odd item. The bowl's base is rice cakes. They're like little building blocks made of sticky rice, which I think was fried or baked too. It was weird to dig into this bowl and realize I had work to do to eat. It took some effort to break up the rice blocks with chop sticks. 

Having had a decent meal, I'd go back. I'm going to need to try their Old Fashinoned this fall. Maybe just stop in for drinks. 


Mansion Hill Inn, Madison, WI

If you care about the kind of place you stay, enjoy being in the heart of a city when you travel, have an affinity for the Trek Bicycle brand, or just like older homes and inns, look no further. This is your place.



5-story Staircase

Room #1 (3 distinct spaces)

Some special touches


Coalition, Excelsior, MN

If you haven't been to this quaint, downtown hamlet, I would highly recommend a day or evening trip. They don't only have offerings like great tacos, ice cream, and lots of shopping, but they have a few nicer restaurants along the same three-block strip. You can easily make an afternoon or an evening by heading over to one of the most popular breweries in the area, Excelsior, and then stopping into one of the restaurants for a really great dinner.

We decided to hit Coalition after doing just that. Father's Day gave us both the opportunity to do something out of the house, and the brewery was a great first stop. Then, on to Coalition. 

It seems easily, both outside and in, like one of the nicer restaurants in this strip. We also liked the menu and smells of plates going by right off the bat. 

Having just stopped at a brewery (read: tipsy) and after seeing some of the offerings and speaking with the waiter, we nailed down or choices quickly - green apple Brie salad, cauliflower, roasted chicken and their Coalition burger. 

This has us at "Brie croutons", awesome summer freshness, crisp Bibb lettuce. 

The cauliflower had an Asian dressing and was very flavorful, though we were a bit surprised it was fried. 

Delicious chicken, interesting to see "pork sausage" (aka, Kielbasa) along side, and always fun to eat hominy. Their description of "slightly spicy" was underestimated - it was spicy even for me. A heavily spiced, crispy tortilla served on the side was not understood and went uneaten.

Solid burger and fries. No brainier. 

In a nutshell - We like this place. We chose what we wanted, but thought they could add something on the menu or when be more accurate when describing the dishes, to make sure you get something you can handle. Then again, even if they change nothing, I'd say it's likely we'll be back.  


Garden of the Gods Park, Colorado Springs, CO

I wouldn't believe it if I didn't get out and scamper over the (approved) rocks myself. It's truly a wonder of ancient rocks, sands, pressure, and water. If you ever have the chance to go, I'd recommend it. But, I'd also recommend not just driving through - get out of the car and put your boots on the sandstone (where allowed of course). 

In case the fear of falling to your death wasn't enough incentive to keep you on the trail.  

Pike's Peak


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