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COCKTAILS 5

New spring cocktails are taking the place of heavier winter flavors at bars and restaurants around Madison. Forequarter will be serving a bottled wine cocktail with cola and lime and a Spring Sling with rhurbarb and white rum.

Another testament to Madison's rising spirits scene came Tuesday from Isthmus, which reports that Forequarter's Hastings Cameron is teaming up with Josh Swentzel of Grampa's Pizzeria to create "a world-class cocktail bar" on the near east side. 

According to Andre Darlington, Cameron and Swentzel's cocktail bar set to open this summer at 1380 Williamson St. will "provide overflow for the popular, cozy Grampa's — which (owner Gilbert) Altschul says has more than an hour wait at peak times on weekends — as well as bring craft cocktails to the Willy Street neighborhood."

Cameron describes the venture as a casual place with "no silverware, tapas-style eats, batched cocktails, kegged cocktails, and kombucha," as well as the kind of barrel-aged cocktails and seasonal drinks Cameron currently does at Forequarter.

They plan to invite guest chefs like Tory Miller, Dan Fox, Joey Dunscombe and Mark Schieber to create a rotating list of bar-friendly dishes.

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The bar is yet another sign of Madison's growing cocktail culture, evident at places like Merchant (which once hosted a cocktail competition), L'Etoile, Nostrano and Heritage Tavern

Before this new bar opens, cocktail lovers can sample spirits at Distill America, a celebration of American distilling that has grown every year since 2009, on Feb. 22 at the Best Western Inn on the Park. Tickets cost $55 for regular entry and $65 for VIP and are on sale now.

After that, SloPig returns on March 16 with craft spirit tastings and a punch competition in addition to dozens of samples of heritage pork. 

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Since 2008, food editor Lindsay Christians has been writing about fine arts and food for The Capital Times. She loves eating at the bar, going to the theater, sparkling wine and good stories. She lives in Madison with two cats and too many cookbooks.