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White Dog takes home unexpected win at first-ever old fashioned fest

Local eatery received the Specialty Old Fashioned award for its caramel apple old fashioned

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May 14, 2024

GREEN BAY – It’s not your typical caramel apple, nor is it your typical old fashioned.

White Dog, a local Green Bay eatery located at 201 S. Broadway St., recently found itself the winner of the Speciality Old Fashioned award at the first-ever N.E. Wisconsin Old Fashioned Fest held at the Resch Expo.

White Dog’s General Manager, Tiana Burton, and Bartender Isabel Hernandez shared their caramel apple old fashioned with the 300-plus guests at the event – unbeknownst it was a contest.

Though the two came with their A-game to provide a great cocktail, Burton said the win wasn’t one she was expecting.

“I didn’t even know it was a competition‚ ” she said. “As people were walking by (our booth), they were like, ‘good luck.’ And I was like, ‘why are people saying good luck to us?’ I thought we were coming here to play with drinks and showcase something fun.”

The winning old fashioned
The idea for a caramel apple old fashioned came together the morning of the festival, and Burton said could be considered a happy accident.

“I ordered the wrong liquor – I ordered caramel vodka, which what old fashioned have you ever heard of with vodka?” she laughed. “Our original old fashioned was supposed to be sour apple with apple brandy.”

Burton said she put her mixologist skills to practice – hand-muddling an orange with a splash of apple juice and bitters, adding the caramel vodka and topping the drink off with Squirt – “or sour, as you’d call it” – and three little pieces of apple to create the caramel apple old fashioned.

“We ended up testing it out that morning during brunch on two of our customers and our owner, and they liked it,” she said. “We were like, ‘you know what, this is going to be it. This is what we’re going to go with, and we’re going to try and make it work.'”

At the old fashioned fest, Burton said she and Hernandez hand-muddled every single drink, which also set them apart from the rest of the booths.

“I think we were the only table there that muddled our old fashions the entire time, and I think I have carpal tunnel from it,” she laughed. “It was crazy.”

Booths also had to present a classic old fashioned, which Burton said White Dog used Copper & Kings brandy for.

From the start of the event to the end, she said White Dog’s booth was busy with people trying their drinks.

“At one point, I felt like I barely even remember people’s faces because my face was down and muddling,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. There were lots of people there.”

Thankfully, she said she and Hernandez made the perfect team to be able to manage the event.

“We always bounce off of each other – we work well together,” she said. “So, when it comes to events like this, we love to go to them because our energy is unmatched.”

Guests’ response to the caramel apple old fashioned, Burton said, blew her and Hernandez away.

“It was like the buzz of the whole event,” she said. “We’d have people come over and they’re like, ‘we heard you guys have the caramel apple old fashioned‚ ‘ It blew up, and our line ended up being so long. I couldn’t tell you if the other places had lines because we weren’t looking around.”

A downtown staple
Winning the Specialty Old Fashioned award against 18 other booths, Burton said, made her and Hernandez “feel like celebrities.”

“Everybody was screaming and cheering, we were getting fist bumps and (high fives),” she said.

Burton said the award also shows that White Dog is a great staple in the community, despite being “one of the little guys.”

“We’re still pretty tiny,” she said. “We’re still that family-owned business, and we still know our customers‚ They see the press and everything on it, and they get excited and share it‚ It makes us feel big even though we’re tiny.”

The award-winning caramel apple old fashioned features an orange hand-muddled with apple juice and bitters, caramel vodka, sour and is garnished with three apple pieces. Photo Courtesy of White Dog

The event, Burton said, has also brought in new faces.

“We met a lot of new people who never even knew we existed, and to know they’re coming in after trying that old fashioned to eat our food is awesome,” she said.

Burton said she feels the old fashioned fest also benefited the area as a whole.

“(It) was a hit,” she said. “I think it was probably one of the best things Green Bay could have added here. I think it’s going to blow up in the future, and they’re going to have way more people joining in and the competition is going to get harder. We’re excited to go back and try to win again.”

The White Dog history
White Dog’s story, Burton said, starts with its notoriety as an area biker bar.

“It was White Dog Roadhouse – I believe that’s exactly what they called it – and the bar was horseshoe-shaped, so it was completely different (and) looks nothing like it did when it first began from what (I’ve been) told from the owners,” she said.

At one point, she said the bar began to serve a little bit of food, such as burgers and other typical bar food fare.

“There was a brunch place across the (Fox) River that ended up closing, and a few of those people who were having brunch over there stopped here and said, ‘hey, why doesn’t White Dog decide to do some sort of brunch,'” she said. “And that’s how they started doing brunch. Some of those folks still come in and visit us.”

Burton said the restaurant then became White Dog Black Cat, a name it held until 2020.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the (owner’s) daughter decided to buy the restaurant with her husband so her mother could retire,” she said. “She ended up shortening (the name) to make it White Dog‚ Go back to the old roots because it was White Dog at the beginning.”

Patrons can now order the caramel apple old fashioned at the eatery.

To learn more about White Dog and its award-winning old fashioned, visit its Facebook page.

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