By Hannah Wente | Photos from respective businesses
Several new cocktail bars have popped up lately, and they aim to fill a need we’ve sorely missed: social connection. And, they offer more to do than just hang out; some feature classic bar games, while others take it up a notch with golf simulators that transport you to world-class courses. Here are five lounges worth exploring.
BLIND SHOT SOCIAL CLUB
Blind Shot Social Club on Madison’s east side is home to five Trackman Golf simulator bays that feature world-class golf courses, plus, a full kitchen and bar. Newbie? Get a single or five-pack of lessons from their in-house expert and co-owner Brent Mann. After your golf sesh, dive into the extensive non-alcoholic menu — both Mann and his wife and co-owner Michelle Duvall are nondrinkers. The Game…Blouses mocktail is a blackberry margarita made with Ritual zero-proof tequila, non-alcoholic Lyres triple sec, honey- thyme syrup and lime. The Mule Hand Luke is a red-orange concoction of Figlio Fiore Non-Alcoholic Apertivo paired with Seedlip Spice 94, an NA spirit. The best-selling Fear and Loathing cocktail has Ford’s gin, Central Standard Door County Cherry Vodka, pineapple, lime, bitters, grenadine and elderflower liqueur. The Blind Shot Mule has Central Standard Door County Cherry Vodka with lime and ginger, all dropped into a Spotted Cow.
177 S. Fair Oaks Ave., blindshotsocialclub.com
HOOK AND FADE
Another way to enjoy golf and a cocktail is at Hook and Fade, a golf lounge located just off the Capitol Square in The Pressman building. The space has suites equipped with Golfzon simulators for four to six people. The multi-surface hitting mat simulates the terrain and automatically restocks balls so you don’t need to tee up. Bring your own clubs, or get them at the bar. And, first-time visitors get 30 minutes of free play with a beverage purchase. Enjoy the namesake cocktail with Korbel brandy, lemon, cherry syrup, bitters, cinnamon, cherry cola and cherries.
113 S. Hamilton St., hookandfade.com
LEOPOLD’S BOOKS BAR CAFFÈ
Book lovers, coffee nerds and cocktail purists unite at this quaint bookshop-café on Regent Street. Peruse 5,500 titles arranged by country of origin in the bookstore. Sip Italian-inspired drinks made on an Elektra espresso machine, alongside pastries from Madison Sourdough. Or pull up a seat at the white marble bar and enjoy the Oaxacan Negroni, crafted with Del Maquey Vida mezcal, Campari, sweet vermouth and chocolate bitters. The Sherried Old Fashioned has bottled in bond bourbon, mulled orange and cherry with an ounce of Pedro Ximénez sherry in place of simple syrup. The former Greenbush Donuts locale hosts live music and talks with authors and artists. Rent the lower-level Book Nook for book clubs or meetings of up to 12 people.
1301 Regent St., leopoldsmadison.com
MUSKELLOUNGE AND SPORTING CLUB
If Northwoods fishing decor doesn’t get you in the mood for supper club cocktails, we don’t know what will. Located between Madison and Monona is this urban-meets-rural fishing tavern run by owners Sean Pharr and Chad Vogel of Mint Mark, Robin Room and Cork ’n Bottle. The tavern has classic Sconnie games, including shuffleboard, darts, ping-pong, foosball, Hook It and Big Buck Hunter. Get one of eight weekly draught cocktails such as the Stout & Sensitive made with Jefferson Bourbon, Aperol, Lillet and peach or Cinnamon Girl with bourbon, lemon, cinnamon, passion fruit and Aperol. They also offer frozen margaritas and seasonal slushes such as the Penicillin, made with Auchentoshan scotch whiskey, lemon, honey and ginger. Dine on the large patio as the weather warms up with The Musky pizza — a pie made exclusively for the tavern by the Monona Fraboni’s, with hot coppa soppressata, mushrooms and pepperoncini peppers.
4102 Monona Dr., muskellounge.com
OZ BY OZ
This eclectic King Street hangout seems to be Madison’s best-kept secret, hidden in plain sight between mainstays the Majestic Theater and Ancora Café. Those who make the trip will revel in the mystical décor mirroring the fortune- teller’s wagon in the “Wizard of Oz,” and the bar features local art on the walls. Try the Honey Coffee (espresso) Martini with State Line coffee, vodka, honey liqueur and almond. Snack on maple coffee candied pecans, honey wasabi peanuts or pickled salty cockles with Potter’s Crackers.
113 King St., ozbyozmadison.com