While Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is famous for its beer (locals dub it ‘Brew City’ and ‘Brewtown’) cocktail lovers will be thrilled to know that the city is not short on great mixology. We visit the top ten bars in the city to experience elegant cocktails and top local tipples.
Located in a century-old, cream-colored brick building that originally housed the Schupert-Zoeller Printing Company, Black Sheep has modernized the facility while maintaining an industrial feel. These efforts haven’t gone unrecognized: Black Sheep earned a 2014 Mayor’s Design Award for the quality of its façade renovation. Within the building, a spacious and sleek space adorned with quirky paintings of sheep, patrons can enjoy 16 wines on tap in Black Sheep’s self-service wine dispenser. Or sit back and order one of the many inventive cocktails available or enjoy small plates like the gourmet ‘haute’ dog.
216 S 2nd Street, Milwaukee, WI, USA, +1 414 223 0903
Boone & Crockett
Boone & Crockett promises its visitors ‘pretentious drinks without the pretentiousness’; the best of both worlds. While a hipster crowd can often be found here, the bar’s rotating selection of seasonal cocktails and assortment of bourbons, whiskeys and scotches should appeal to anyone who appreciates superior spirits. The bar’s most popular cocktail, a bold, barrel-aged Old Fashioned, could entice even the most dedicated hipster to dip into the mainstream. Couple Boone & Crockett’s drinks with its saloon-meets-speakeasy vibe, complete with paisley sofas situated beneath ornate crystal chandeliers, light fixtures constructed from gramophones and mounted deer busts, and you’ve got one of the most standout venues in Milwaukee.
Boone & Crockett, 2151 S Kinnickinnic Avenue, Milwaukee, WI, USA, +1 414 763 4935
Relax under the glow of Distil’s copper ceiling while seated in one of its luxurious leather booths to truly discover your perfect cocktail comfort zone. With drinks containing unusual ingredients such as walnut liquor and lemon sorbet foam, Distil is the Milwaukee venue that’s setting the standard for cocktail creators nationwide. While on the more premium end of the spectrum, Distil’s artisanal cocktails are locally considered to be worth every penny and thoroughly deserving of their spot on Food & Wine magazine’s list of Best Bars in America.
722 N Milwaukee Street, Milwaukee, WI, USA, +1 414 220 9411
Decked out with puffer fish lights, authentic Hawaii surfboard tables, an enormous fish tank and local artist Dave Hansen’s Polynesian woodcarvings, Foundation takes South Seas charm in its stride. Whilst the state’s signature cocktail is technically an Old Fashioned, made with brandy, not whiskey, as any true Wisconsinite will tell you, a Mai Tai from Foundation could soon become a worthy contender for the top spot. All of Foundation’s cocktails are constructed with natural ingredients, bringing a spark of delicious freshness to cocktail hour. Some of the more exotic cocktails, the potent Pirate’s Grog and the fruity Royal Hawaiian, for example, include the tiki-themed cups they’re served in, allowing guests to take a little bit of Hawaii back home with them.
2718 N Bremen Street, Milwaukee, WI, USA, +1 414 374 2587
Hi Hat Lounge
Stepping into the retro glamour of Hi Hat Lounge, swathed in the sound of live jazz and the glow of mellow lighting, you’d never guess the building originally served as a schoolhouse in the late 19th century. Inspired by similar lounges in New York and Chicago, Hi Hat pairs its cool, elegant décor with skillfully made martinis. Everything on the menu is prepared with the freshest ingredients and to the highest standard, whether the choice is traditional or adventurous. Particularly worthy of note are Hi Hat’s Manhattan varieties; enjoy one of these specialty cocktails alongside a gourmet burger and the punchy jalapeño cheese curds.
1701 N Arlington Place, Milwaukee, WI, USA, +1 414 220 8090
As all Milwaukee locals know, the best way to kick off a weekend is with a Bloody Mary. Sobelman’s Pub ‘n’ Grill has perfected this brunch time cocktail, despite its overall list of beverages having a simpler, more classic vibe. Sobelman’s Chicken-Fried Bloody Beast (a $50 drink topped with cheese, sausage, pickles, olives, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, scallions, shrimp, lemon, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, celery, two Baconadoes (skewers of bacon-wrapped jalapeno cheeseballs), and an entire fried chicken) is a true masterpiece and gustatory mission.
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