Milwaukee Nightlife - Milwaukee Bars and Clubs


Like Chicago, its big Midwest brother to the south, Milwaukee's nightlife has many faces, from gentrified hipster-mania to a post-industrial smorgasbord of warehouse clubs housed in unmarked, brick-faced music venues. Milwaukee's early status as a beer-making town has left the city filled with brews of every sort; no matter which local haunt you wind up in, whether it's a brewpub, a tavern, or a lounge, you're almost guaranteed a fine selection. Though the general drink prices tend to be a bit steeper than in other cities, large student populations bring a vast array of dive bars and cozy bohemian lairs to the scene, many of which merrily offer happy hour prices geared towards the broke twenty-somethings on a college budget. From swanky joints where Frank Sinatra croons from a jukebox to rowdy neighborhood haunts with gourmet menus, local bars in Milwaukee leave little room for disappointment.
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Lakefront Brewery

1872 N Commerce St., Milwaukee Wisconsin; Tel. 414.372.8800
Thirsty Milwaukee visitors can't expect to visit Milwaukee and escape without a brewery tour. Skip the majors and head to the youngish (since 1987) Lakefront Brewery, where the beer flows before the tour even starts. The $5 includes four beer tokens, a souvenir pint glass and a nice buzz (that's more than most Milwaukee bars can say). On Fridays come early. Tours have a habit of selling out and for $10, get the whole shebang plus a fish fry and, if you're lucky, live polka music.

Von Trier's

2235 N Farwell Ave., Milwaukee Wisconsin; Tel. 414.272.1775
Locals could say that Von Trier's is one of those Milwaukee specialties: brick façade, red neon sign and street-corner setting. But this Milwaukee mainstay is no dive. Positioned on bumping North Avenue, Von Trier's offers a mellow and cozy alternative to bar and club hopping. It's a beer lover's pub where you'll find 312 beers on tap inside and a beer garden out back during the summer. The free popcorn and pretzels complete Von Trier's Old Milwaukee atmosphere.

Hi Hat Lounge and Garage

1701 N Arlington Pl., Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tel. 414.225.9330
The Hi Hat can get a bad rap for being a little too swanky, but that's probably just yuppie envy. With renowned gin martinis and a spot on hip Brady Street, the Hi Hat attracts a young and professional crowd. The music, of course, tends toward jazz, but you'll find the occasional DJ. The adjacent Garage, where the atmosphere is more casual and the music more eclectic, sometimes features live acts. Hi Hat's food complements the taste of its trendy patrons: salmon mousse with crackers, curry spring rolls and chicken or beef skewers with Thai peanut noodles.

Have A Nice Day Cafe

1103 N. Old World 3rd St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tel. 414.270.9650
Located just one block from the Bradley Center, Milwaukee's Have A Nice Day Cafe is a popular bar for drinks before or after Bucks games, concerts and other special events. This disco-themed bar is decorated with lava lamps, bright colors and, of course, disco balls. This Milwaukee bar sees a large college crowd, but young professionals and more seasoned citizens also populate Have A Nice Day Cafe. DJs spin the best hits from the '70s, '80s and '90s to the delight of Milwaukee locals who can't stay off the dance floor.

At Random

2501 S. Delaware Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tel. 414.481.8030
Located in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood, At Random may be the best place in the city for froufrou cocktails and ice cream drinks. This Milwaukee bar also specializes in martinis for those looking to avoid dessert-type drinks. Cushy vinyl booths, dim lighting and the sounds of Sinatra floating in the background add to the, well, random atmosphere of this Milwaukee hotspot. Couples enjoy the intimate feel of the place and huge drinks for two, including the Flaming Tiki, which ensures patrons who aren't in love before drinking it will definitely be after.

Balzac

1716 Arlington Pl., Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tel. 414.755.0099
Balzac boasts an impressive and always revolving selection of fine wines along with a delicious tapas menu, making it an excellent place for intimate dates while in Milwaukee. Highlights on the menu include curried cream mussels, delicious cheese flights and the petite beef tenderloin filet. Balzac prides itself on weeding out bad wines so that every bottle on their list is sure to impress. Those who simply cannot decide on one from the huge list should consider choosing several "taste pours," which are half the size of a glass. This Milwaukee wine bar features a 555 happy hour, with $5 select glasses, martinis and small plates. Other events include flight nights, wine school and vintage Wednesdays complete with board games.

fourty8

4823 W. National Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tel. 414.389.9350
Milwaukee's fourty8 restaurant and tavern is very deceptive—those judging from the seedy looking exterior and dark, smoky interior, fourty8 would serve something along the lines of twice-fried chicken fingers with a side of Pabst. This Milwaukee favorite actually has a diverse and upscale menu, complete with coriander seared scallops, Asian barbecue pork and their famous fish fry on Fridays. Fourty8 also features drink specials, perfect for washing down an excellent meal. In addition to having some of the best bar food in Milwaukee, fourty8 also bests some of the friendliest servers and patrons, which makes for a laid-back atmosphere no matter what time of day or night.

Rochambo Coffee & Tea House

1317 E. Brady St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tel. 414.291.0095
Rochambo Coffe & Tea House is definitely not your typical bar—they specialize in tea and boast an impressive selection of various greens, whites, oolongs, blacks and tisanes. Alcoholic beverages aren't the focus, but Rochambo claims to make the best Irish coffee in Milwaukee, and so far this statement hasn't been challenged. They also serve microbrews and wines for those who want a little extra kick from their beverage of choice. Free internet access has made this a popular stop for students and businesspeople on the go.

Cafe Brucke

2101 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Tel. 414.287.2053
There's a lot to love about Cafe Brucke, located in Milwaukee's eastside. It's the only smoke-free bar in this part of town, it has an impressive selection of beer from around the world and the small menu always features fresh, tasty cuisine. It's obvious when visiting Cafe Brucke that the owners truly care about quality in everything they do. The kegs' tap lines are always clean, the premium coffee is from a local roaster and weekly live acoustic music is some of the best around. When Milwaukee locals are in the mood for a laid-back bar conducive to conversation, Cafe Brucke is always high on the list.
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