Apple Cider Moscow Mule
Cocktail Runner Up
- Grizzly’s | Eau Claire, Wis.
- La Crosse Division
“I always search online and look at different restaurant trends and magazines for ideas,” says Julie Krenz, district manager for Grizzly’s and its sister restaurant, Milwaukee Burger. “We’re always playing with drinks and our thing right now is classic cocktails, so we’re always trying to bring them into the season or make them relevant for now. (We’re also) utilizing different fruits or juices or muddling with something new to make them stand out.”
That’s how Krenz and her team created the Apple Cider Moscow Mule, which she says is a riff off the traditional Moscow Mule. It’s been infused with fresh apple cider, uses house-made ginger vodka and cinnamon simple syrup, is garnished with a cinnamon stick and is usually served in the traditional copper mug. She stresses that they make the ginger vodka out of necessity because they couldn’t find it in the Wisconsin area. “Sales-wise, people love the cocktail,” she says.
“Trendy Northwoods” is how Krenz best describes Grizzly’s, the longtime Eau Claire, Wis. establishment that’s come a long way since it opened in 1981. Once a cozy, family-oriented restaurant serving sandwiches and burgers, it’s elevated its food and drink programs throughout the years.
Grizzly’s now serves updated comfort fare that you can smell and see the moment you walk in the door. A wood-burning oven at the entrance welcomes guests as it showcases steaks, prime rib and chickens spinning on a spit. The bar/dining room offers a log cabin atmosphere, staying true to its deep Wisconsin roots.
The cocktail menu at Grizzly’s changes seasonally, so as the weather changes, drinks like the Apple Cider Moscow Mule disappear to make way for mojitos and margaritas. Krenz says that this season Grizzly’s will be garnishing the mojitos with pop rocks (“That’s really hot right now!”) and funky fruits that no one has thought of yet.
It’s a team effort to create the seasonal cocktails, stresses Krenz. “The staff has input too,” she continues. “If they get excited about something, we’ll try just about anything.”
While the cocktail menu changes seasonally—and also the craft beers catering to local breweries like The Brewing Projekt—the food menu is pretty much the same year-round. That’s a good thing for loyal guests, who crave signature delights such as wood-roasted sandwiches (spitfire beef brisket, honey basil chicken), plus wood-fired steaks, roast chicken and baby back ribs. A prime rib sandwich, sold only on Sunday and Monday, is also a really big hit. In one week they sold 153 of them.
“Grizzly’s has a rotisserie oven unique to any restaurant within 300 miles,” says Krenz. “They’re cooking using an Old World method by slow-cooking (the meat) over wood to give it a really rich flavor and sear in all the juices. We’ve been voted ‘best chicken’ five years in a row. The proteins are really excellent.”