HotelRED in Madison, Wis., is one of those properties that’s done right by the community since the day it opened, happily and eagerly hosting fundraisers, donating overnight packages, supporting neighborhood causes and more. But a little over a year ago, it seized upon an idea for a regular giving-back program tied to offerings from its lobby-level restaurant and bar, The Wise. The idea was to donate $1 to a local non-profit organization from every Cocktail of the Month sold. The program has been so popular with guests, and employees too, that the staff has already announced they’re all in for 2020. The hotel website is hotelred.com. HotelRED and The Wise are located at 1501 Monroe Street.
The Cocktail of the Month idea dates back to May 2018, with the mixologists at The Wise noticing the special monthly cocktail was an instant hit, and not just because of the inventive recipes and intriguing tastes. It was because patrons knew a portion of the proceeds was going to a good cause. Over the last two years, a wide variety of non-profit groups have benefited, including the Monroe Street Farmers Market, the Salvation Army of Dane County, the Madison Reading Project, Clean Wisconsin, and the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, among others.
One of the more popular partnerships has been with Fetch Wisconsin Rescue, based in Madison, which provides adoption services to dogs of all breeds. To bring attention to the good work of this group and the restaurant’s cocktail fundraiser, The Wise and HotelRED have hosted a summer event called “Pups on the Patio,” with adoptable pups the star of the show. This year, the event is slated for June.
Other times organizations are selected because they’re near and dear to the hearts of employees. One staffer with a family history of leukemia led to a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, for example. Another month, the cocktail proceeds went to the UW Carbone Cancer Center.
Another appeal for guests is that the cocktails frequently feature local ingredients, such as spirits from State Line Distillery and Yahara Bay Distillery, both in in Madison.
For February, the recipient has been the American Heart Association. This year’s February Cocktail of the Month was just announced – it’s called the “Love Martini,” a tempting concoction of rum, peach liquor, vodka and cranberry juice.
Visitors can pair the cocktail with an offering from The Wise menu which features a mix of shareables, cheese curds to smoked chicken wings, and hearty dinner entrées including a brisket bacon burger and a mushroom ravioli. At the helm in the kitchen is Chef Mark Mastain, whose resume includes turns as a certified judge for the World Series of BBQ and the Kansas City Barbeque Society. The restaurant also serves breakfast and weekend brunch. Reservations can be made by calling The Wise at 608.819.8230.
For those looking to time their visit to an event at The Wise, there’s the every-Wednesday “Tunes, Taps & Tacos” featuring a local musician. There’s also a regular happy hour Monday-Saturday from 4-6 p.m.
HotelRED, with 48 suites, fitness center, and meeting and event space, is an eco-friendly property, implementing innovative best practices to benefit the community and the environment. It’s also pet-friendly. For more, log on to hotelred.com.