River Wildlife Mule

The backstory to this cocktail recipe started nearly 50 years ago with two men cutting a narrow riding trail through the woods just east of Kohler’s  Riverbend along the Sheboygan River.

This trail was one of many cut by Herbert Kohler and my dad, “Jake”The two had met in the late 1960’s  for the love of horses, and as luck would have it, struck up a lifelong friendship.

On crisp fall days, when the ground was still firm, the two would saddle up at Kohler stables with whatever tools they needed to cut new riding trails.  One of those trails, which still rambles along the east side of the winding Sheboygan River, is appropriately named the HVK trail.  It takes a short break and opens at a place Herbert later christened “Jake’s Camp”.

It was here Herbert gazed through the trees and across the river’s gently rolling rapids  at what he believed could be the perfect setting for a log cabin.  A place to relax with good friends before a warm crackling fire,  a shot of bourbon and a hot bowl of chili.

Today, this log cabin is a local favorite, well-known as River Wildlife, a “wild rose” in the wilderness and perhaps the crowned jewel of Destination Kohler.

Should you have the opportunity to walk the HVK trail to River Wildlife for a fireside  cocktail, you might notice on a small framed chalkboard just to right of the coatrack. It bears the title RWL Mule (River Wildlife Mule) the lodge’s version of a Moscow Mule.

What makes me smile is that the recipe includes a good shot of bourbon and a shot of Jake’s StrongGinger,  favorites of the two men that cleared the trail to this wonderful place nearly 50 years ago, Herbert and Jake. They were good men, and I think we can drink to that.

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