Posts Tagged ‘Al Johnson’s’

Growing up, I went on many a family vacation to Wisconsin’s peninsula, Door County.

I remember going to Wilson’s for ice cream, learning to play golf at Maxwelton Braes, stopping at the Country Walk shops for a smiley face cookie, eating Swedish pancakes (always with lingonberries!) at Al Johnson’s, waving at the goats and visiting the little houses out back. I recall trying to see Pocahontas at one of the state’s few remaining drive-in theaters (but that the screen broke and we never saw more than 5 minutes) and alternatively, spending a rainy day at an indoor theater watching Apollo 13. Those were the days when you could climb the lookout tour in Peninsula State Park and when you could eat all the fudge you wanted from the Confectionery without worrying about zipping up your jeans the next day.

Visiting Door County as an adult is a very different experience, especially in recent years, as the area has seen renewed growth and popularity from a younger sect. Now there are breweries, cider companies and distilleries mingling with the fruit-based wineries, markets and orchards of old; and avant garde coffee shops selling $6 lattes topped off with smoked sea salt and black pepper co-existing with Door County Coffee & Tea.

Adding alcohol to a Door County trip is a new experience in and of itself once you journey back as someone of age, but then add in the new bars and restaurants and it’s a jarring juxtaposition to your youthful memories of the Door.

To clarify, it is not a bad one–it’s just different, in a good way.

While we sampled the wine, cider, beer and spirits from Bailey’s Harbor to Ellison Bay, we also made it a point (for the sake of you, our dear readers, of course) to get a rundown of some of the Bloody Marys.

In previous years, we have reviewed Husby’sCooper’s Corner (which is no longer there), BaySide Tavern and Bitter’s Pub, but it wasn’t until this most recent trip that we noticed the explosion in new establishments. 

The first stop on our journey brought us to Hatch Distilling Co. Photo Jul 19, 1 06 35 PM

Hatch’s Jamaican Jerk Bloody Mary is a spicy little bugger that retails for $10. A pepper, egg and pickle top off this drink. After sitting at the bar for a little while, we noticed and inquired about the noodle straws, which we then got to sample.

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LOVE this concept, which would prove to be even more valuable as the weekend progressed. Door County is a plastic straw free zone and most of the places we would venture to following had subpar paper straws which disintegrated before we could finish our drinks. While we are all for saving the environment, we also can’t help but wonder if this is a ploy to make us drink faster and thus perhaps order more beverages.

Hatch is near the new One Barrel Brewing which shares it’s space with a Wild Tomato Pizza location (a must-try in DC!), so also made a quick stop in there.

After some afternoon kayaking in Sister Bay, we headed to dinner at the Boathouse. While fish is always a prominent feature at the Boathouse of course, the fact that it was Friday meant Fish Fry!

And, of course, another Bloody Mary. This one came with a salted rim, pickle, lemon, olive, shrimp and a chaser. It definitely hit the spot.

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Plans to continue our liquid tour of DoCo were thwarted when a summer storm rolled in to break up heatwave.

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The outdoor patios would have to wait for another day as we flagged down the Sister Bay Shuttle and hightailed it back to our quarters.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Sister Bay Shuttle.

The Door has certainly modernized over time, but much of its charm is still derived from local establishments and the lackthereof of big businesses and chains. Therefore, you still won’t be able to call an Uber or a Lyft, but responsible imbibers, can still enjoy a worry-free night out on the town in Sister Bay by hailing the shuttle. In our case, it saved us from torrential downpours as well. Score!

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The next day, after sweating off Friday’s indulgences at an Ironwood Hot Yoga class and a jolt of caffeine at Discourse, we set off to explore more of the Door. We set off on a trek to Door County Brewing in Bailey’s Harbor, but first we stopped for lunch at the Peninsula Pub. We hadn’t heard much buzz about the Pub, but a quick search for something open at that time, that serves Bloody Marys and was on the way to Door County Brewing led us there and we’re quite glad it did!

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Their menu features SEVEN different Bloody Mary varietals with various fixin’s and served with chasers. We got the Bacon Bloody Mary and enjoyed it very much. They disclosed that they use Jimmy Luv’s as the base in their mix, so the variations come from the alcohol and fixin’s.

The menu is also great if you’re craving a sandwich or burger. We read the description for the Hangover Burger and were just intrigued enough to order it: “1/3# fresh ground beef, American cheese, peanut butter & jelly, topped off with a fried egg & BACON!”

Many might balk at the PB&J and I think part of me did at first as well, but now I am a believer. Don’t knock it until you try it, folks.

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While enjoying our lunch, another storm rolled in, so we decided to hang out in the area a little longer. Stone’s Throw Winery was… (wait for it…) literally a stone’s throw across the street from Peninsula Pub, so we did a quick tasting before zipping over to Door County Brewing.

The rain had both tasting rooms packed to the gills, but we were able to enjoy our time there anyway. With our bellies full of bloodies, wine and beer, we just had to add cider to drink for the cycle. To Island Orchard Cider we went!

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That place was packed as well, so we improvised on space.

If it seems like all we do is eat and drink there, you’re not wrong.

The storms had passed, so we headed to Stabbur, Al Johnson’s outdoor patio/bar, and The Garage at Husby’s to enjoy the sunshine before dinner.

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After heading home to shower and change (and let’s be honest…nap), we headed to a lovely dinner at Chives, back in Bailey’s Harbor.

After such a long and filling day, we called it an early night.

The next morning we were heading out of town, but we stopped at Al Johnson’s for breakfast (yes, those lingonberry pancakes!). That place is always packed, but we were able to mitigate our wait time by grabbing a Bloody at the adjacent Stabbur.

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Skål!

What a fluid & food filled fun weekend in DoCo! We stopped at a few shops as we headed back down the Peninsula, toting beer, wine, cheese and Swedish limpa bread back home with us for future consumption as well.

When we don’t get up to Door County as often as we used to, you really take notice of all of the changes. I’m not sure when we’ll get back there again, but even if it is just a few months from now, there’s likely to be new places to explore in the Door.

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And we’re here for it! Thank you, DoCo!