The supper club, which has gotten ink recently in Brooklyn and other hip destinations, is an iconic way of eating that’s most popular in the Midwest, according to the Greater Madison CVB’s Frankel.
“The Old Fashioned embraces this,” she says, adding standby supper club menu items include cheeses, veggies and other nibbles served on a Lazy Susan, and fried fish on Fridays.
Frankel adds the restaurant offers private space upstairs that’s lovely for group gatherings, and she encourages visitors to look for a sign at the bar with an ever-changing number of Old Fashioned cocktails they’ve sold.
“The Old Fashioned is the signature cocktail of Wisconsin, and it’s the restaurant’s namesake,” she says. “The main ingredient in an Old Fashioned is brandy, and Wisconsin consumes more brandy than anywhere else in world.”
Wollersheim Winery and Distillery
At Wollersheim Winery and Distillery, located nearby Madison in Prairie du Sac, groups will enjoy tours of the facility and tastings of wines and spirits.
“They can visit our historic wine cave, view our still room, spend time in our wine garden or on the distillery patio, and browse the retail stores,” says Julie Coquard, Wollersheim’s co-owner. “We want our visitors to leave with an appreciation of our rich history and an understanding of the winemaking and distilling traditions.”
Prairie Fume, a semi-dry white, is a favorite choice in the wine lineup here, which also includes other tempting whites and some delicious reds.
“On the distillery end, Coquard Brandy is our signature spirit, but we offer a range of other choices, including eau-de-vie, gin and absinthe,” Coquard adds.
Another Madison tour operator offers several tours, including culinary explorations of downtown and two Eastside neighborhoods. Each tour includes tastings at four to six locations.
“Food tours are wonderful for groups because participants naturally mix and mingle as we walk and nosh,” says Otehlia Cassidy, owner of Madison Eats. “Tours feature everything from farm-to-table fare, ethnic eats and pub fare to Wisconsin cheese and dessert. Included is relevant and interesting historical and architectural info, so group members get a true Madison experience.”
Cocktails and Wisconsin beer are included in many tours, and private and custom tours can be arranged.
Wisconsin Brewing Company (WBC)
Located nearby Madison is Verona-based Wisconsin Brewing Company, which hosts free tours and offers tastings.
“Tours give guests the opportunity to learn about the brewing process and what makes WBC unique,” says Tracy Phillippi, event sales manager.
Among the popular beers created here are Yankee Buzzard, an American IPA; Chocolate Lab, a porter; and Old Reliable, a Munich-style lager.
“We also host a variety of events, including holiday parties and corporate functions,” Phillippi adds. “We have three unique spaces that can be utilized for events, including our tap room, outdoor beer garden and brew house. Each has access to our fresh draught beer.”
The Coopers Tavern
Another of the many great restaurants in Madison is The Coopers Tavern, a neighborhood haunt that serves craft beer and rustic food in a relaxed atmosphere, according to Margaret Riggs, graphic designer and marketer for the tavern.
“The Coopers Tavern is the perfect venue for hosting luncheons, events and meetings,” she says. “Stocked with a private bar, kitchen, AV equipment and state capitol views, the second floor at The Coopers Tavern is designed to house private events.”
Appetizers here include beer cheese pretzels and Belgian frites, entrees include Frenched chicken and pork belly mac, which mingles mac and cheese with braised pork belly, and desserts include carrot cake and brie en croute.