Winning Bloody Marys, craft brews, wines

Do you turn the Bloody Mary into a meal? Judge quality by the kick of spice in a juiced-up glass? Prefer properly pickled garnishes over getting pickled yourself?

We’re not judging, but you can.

Coming Oct. 24 is the sixth annual Wisconsin’s Best Bloody Mary Fest at Yahara Bay Distillers, 6250 Nesbitt Rd., Madison. This year it’s a drive-through event that directly supports nearly two dozen local businesses affected by the pandemic.

In addition to deciding which entrant’s cocktail mix is best, attendee enthusiasm will be rewarded. Decorated vehicles, costumes and pictures of private, socially distanced festivals will be judged – either as you pass through to pick up swag and cocktail ingredients, or post Facebook photos of your own little Bloody Mary party at a safe site of your choosing.

Buy a ticket and select a time to drive through (8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) at

Admission is $260 for four (or $65 for one). That gets you two jars of 100 Mile Sauce Bloody Mary mix, two liters of Just Vodka from Yahara Bay, four pint glasses, one case of amber lager from Leinenkugel’s, six or seven kinds of Bloody Mary mix from contest entrants, Farmer John cheese curds, Chef K. Clark cocktail carrots, Mapleton Mynd lambsticks, Goodman Center pretzels, Silver Springs horseradish, Slide potato chips, a locally produced hot sauce, pickles, a lunch/dinner sliders kit and other goodies.

Package value is $340.

In previous years, the event’s organizers used bar crawls around Wisconsin to help identify the best Bloody Mary.

Three Wisconsin brewers won medals in the recent New York International Beer Competition. The winners:

MKE Brewing Company, Milwaukee – Cream Ale Brewery of the Year, gold for Outboard Cream Ale and bronze for MVP Hazy IPA.

Stevens Point Brewery, Stevens Point – Wisconsin Brewery of the Year, gold for Hoptastic Pale Ale and silver for Special Lager.

Whole Hog Beer, Stevens Point – silver for Cuppa Espresso Stout.

“We’re the only international beer competition where all the judges are real trade buyers who are judging the beer by category and actual price,” says event founder Adam Levy. “Many of our judges discovered new products that they will be incorporating into their inventories in the coming year.”

For more:

Wollersheim products in Prairie du Sac also are international award winners this year.

Wollersheim Distillery earned a double gold for Wisconsin Apple Brandy and bronze for Press House Brandy at Finger Lakes International Wine and Spirits Competition.

Wollersheim Winery won a gold for Eagle White wine and silver medals for Prairie Fumé and Dry Riesling at the same competition.

The brand’s sister winery, Cedar Creek Winery in Cedarburg, received silver medals for Waterfall Riesling and Pinot Grigio, plus a bronze for Gewurztraminer.

For more:

A Fall Family Fun Drive is offered this month at Old World Wisconsin, near Eagle, a 600-acre regional history attraction and one of Wisconsin’s 12 state historical sites.

Pay $20 per vehicle for a 45-minute tour on a route that includes areas not accessible during typical business hours. Another $20 covers a Fall Flavor Sampler of apple cider doughnuts, Landjaeger sausage and pumpkin cookies for two people.

“While guests will be in their vehicles for the majority of the tour, there will be select opportunities to hop out” and take photos at scenic stops, says Dan Freas, site director. An interactive bingo game is part of the experience too.

Pre-registration of vehicles is necessary.

Amuse or educate yourself through “Badger Talks,” free and online sessions that feature the expertise of University of Wisconsin faculty and staff.

Recent topics included:

“Hamilton: How a Musical About History is Making Musical History” by Sarah Marty, who teaches classes about the Broadway production, arts entrepreneurship and arts leadership.

“The Amish in Wisconsin” by Mark Louden, a practicing Mennonite and linguist who directs the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies. He also is an interpreter and cultural mediator for the Amish.

Upcoming topics include “The Life of William Grant Still,” the first Black musician to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, Oct. 13; “The Art of Papermaking,” Oct. 21; and “Climate Change and Ecosystems: Lessons from the Past,” Oct. 27.

Tap into the “Badger Talks” archives or listen to these noon sessions as they occur. For more:

“Eleven Miles to Oshkosh” is the title of a first-time novel by Jim Guhl, a writer and visual artist in Hudson whose work includes bits of Wisconsin history and state references.

Here is part of the plot teaser, from publisher University of Wisconsin Press, which recently released the book’s paperback version:

“As the Vietnam War grinds on and the Nixon presidency collapses, Del ‘Minnow’ Finwick’s small world in Wisconsin has blown apart. His father, a deputy sheriff, has been murdered by the unknown ‘Highway 41 Killer.’ His mom has unraveled. And a goon named Larry Buskin has been pummeling Minnow behind Neenah High.”

“When the sheriff seems in no hurry to solve the murder, Minnow must seek justice by partnering with unlikely allies and discovering his own courage.” The author grew up in the Fox Valley.

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee has unveiled four officially licensed, special edition bobbleheads featuring the late Bart Starr, legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback who died in 2019.

Here’s what each bobblehead depicts:

Starr with Packers quarterbacks Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

Starr scoring the winning touchdown during the 1967 Ice Bowl.

Starr in a replica 1967 Corvette Stingray convertible, given for being the first Super Bowl MVP.

Starr dropping back to pass on a base that acknowledges top career accomplishments.

The bobbleheads were produced exclusively for the museum by FOCO, an official licensee and manufacturer of Green Bay Packers and NFL merchandise.

Each is individually numbered and only available through the museum’s online store. Prices are $50 to $225, depending on which bobblehead and how much of the set is ordered.

Last: Kohler hospitality projects are far from dormant during this pandemic year.

An Oct. 7 ribbon-cutting ceremony introduces Straits Chapel, a non-denominational venue for rental in the Sheboygan County town of Mosel. It overlooks Lake Michigan, via a 22-foot-tall center window, flanked by two eight-foot-tall windows.

In the rural neighborhood is Kohler’s Pond Cabin, woodsy luxury accommodations for up to four people in two bedrooms. It is between a pond and river, has a kitchen, two bathrooms, living room with wood-burning fireplace and wrap-around deck. Rates start at $1,324 per night, with a two-night minimum, then drop to a low of $842 in November.

The network’s newest little luxuries include Incredible Sugar-Free Milk Chocolates, a sugar-free candy sold in four- and nine-piece packages online and at Kohler businesses. Cost: $13 and $25.

For more: