Wisconsin senator's homemade condiment cuts the mustard

Marcia Nelesen
Janesville Gazette
In this recent photo, state State Sen. Janis Ringhand, who makes her own brand of mustard at the Brooklyn Sportsman's Club, poses in Brooklyn. The mustard is used by restaurants and sold by some local retailers.

EVANSVILLE -  Many know Sen. Janis Ringhand as a maker of laws. Some might not know she is also a maker of mustard.

And she gets serious when she hauls out her paint mixer and dons a tye-dyed shirt, the Janesville Gazette reported.

"It's a sloppy job," said Ringhand of Evansville. "You can't see you have mustard all over yourself."

Ringhand sells her beer mustard in stores such as Basics Cooperative in Janesville; Bushel and Peck's Local Market in Beloit; the Urban Exchange Consignment, which her daughter owns, in Evansville; Decatur Dairy in Brodhead; and New Glarus Brewing Co. in New Glarus. The price starts at $3.50 but can be more depending on the outlet.

Other restaurants buy it by the gallon to use on the food they serve.

It all started when Ringhand's husband, Gordon, procured the recipe from an elderly friend. Unfortunately, that recipe made only four jars at a time.

Ringhand, 67, now makes it in two-gallon batches, creating a "totally unique flavor" - a sweet and tart mixture concocted from beer, mustard and her secret dry mix.

She used to blend the paste by hand until her son, Dan, who is in the building trades, suggested she use a paint mixer.

Ringhand has been making mustard for at least 25 years. She sold it at her brother-in-law's meat market, Ringhand Meats, in Evansville until it closed. When people could no longer buy the mustard, they begged her to start making it again.

The Brooklyn Sportsman's Club's commercial kitchen is where the magic is made. Ringhand can mix up to 32 gallon of mustard a day and fill 300 12-ounce bottles. She joined the "Something Special From Wisconsin" branding program and includes that on the label.

Ringhand figures she sells a least 3,500 bottles a year and another 30 gallons to businesses such as Center Tavern in Albany and Pete's Inn in Evansville.

She also ships her mustard all over the country — sometimes by the case — to such far-flung states as Florida, Alaska and New York. Others ship it to family members serving in the military, so the mustard travels "far and wide," she said.

The condiment is tasty on any kind of meat and, of course, on Wisconsin cheese. People also ingest it in other ways, Ringhand has learned, including on potato chips, dill pickles and pretzels.

And yes, sometimes even simply on a finger.