Visit Milwaukee

Visit Milwaukee Blog

Things That Go Bump In The Bar

Share This Story:

By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
VISIT Milwaukee

I don't go to scary movies. I hate getting out of bed at night because I can't be sure what's lurking underneath. Ouija boards? Are you KIDDING? I also never met a challenge I didn't like, so when I was invited to take a Ghost Tour at Shaker's, I jumped at the chance. But I'm no fool, either, and if those Friday the 13th movies have taught me anything, the more people there are for the spooks to take down, the better chance you have of getting out alive.

So I asked several coworkers to join me.

Standing sentinel over the city’s oldest neighborhood for more than a century, Shaker's is hidden among a tightly-packed row of forgotten buildings. Most have pasts hardly worth remembering.

But not this one. It's full of memories….perhaps too much so.

It has been many things. A cooperage house for the Schlitz Brewery. A speakeasy fronted by a soda company. A house of ill-repute with a tragic history.

It's the kind of place where you wish the walls could talk. For those who pay close attention, they sometimes do. How else to account for the unexplained whispers and shadows…other than the remnants of a checkered past that sometimes bubble over and seep into the present…

"It wasn't long after I opened. Women would always ask me who the little girl was in the ladies room," said owner Bob Weiss. "I told them, there's no little girl here, but they swore they saw her or heard her laughing."

Bob was skeptical until two psychics stopped in for lunch and told him he had a ghost. A little girl ghost named Elizabeth. Poor Elizabeth met her untimely end when she fell out of a tree while picking apples in an orchard that once stood on the spot.

Bob began to believe.

In the years since, Bob has had many brushes with the supernatural here. Any rational person might explain away those encounters on a creative imagination or a knack for storytelling, and Bob is blessed with both. But it's not only Bob. There are the employees who quit after a night or two because they've seen things they'd rather not see again. Or the burly deliverymen who refuse to go into the basement where the "shadow people" lurk. There are the FBI agents who hang out at Bob's bar when dignitaries come to town and confess the place gives them the creeps. Or the patrons who are convinced they hear the lingering voices of the ladies of the night on the third floor, which housed a rollicking, Prohibition-era brothel.

Remember the movie where the kid kept saying "I see dead people?" Well, he'd have a field day in here. As Bob says, thousands of people have walked through the front door. Some of them just never walked out again.

Not only is Shaker's the kind of place that could likely scare the head off a beer (hey, this is Milwaukee), it's also a great pick for drinks or dinner (and yes, cigars – they have an outstanding selection). In addition to owning the place, Bob is a fantastic chef and the menu of the 1894 Palm Garden leans toward inspired island cuisine and flavorful sauces.

The tour….well…it's spooky and fun and I don't want to spoil the surprises in store for you. Bring an open mind…and some running shoes. Just in case you need to make a hasty exit.

Shakers Cigar Bar and 1894 Palm Garden Restaurant
422 S. 2nd St.


Read Story | Leave A Comment

Life’s a Batch

Share This Story:

By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

It was a dark night in Walker's Point. Just like most nights. Dark. The weather wasn't so scary. It was perfect. But enough about the weather. Me and my dame weren't lookin for clouds. We were lookin' for a good time. Funny, we found one. Not so funny, it turned out to be a pretty scary time, too.

You see, we wandered into this speakeasy on South Second Street called Shaker's Cigar Bar. No, wise guy, the bar ain't shaped like a cigar. It's a bar where a guy, or a dame if she's got the moxie, can sit and enjoy a stogie with a shot of whiskey or a glass of beer and not be worried about gettin' a ticket from Johnny Law.

We weren't worried. We were thirsty. For beer and lots of it. Yeah, that's right, my dame's got moxie. So me and her grabbed a couple of stools inside Shaker's Cigar Bar and this bartender comes up to us. Like they always do.

"What'll you have?" the little dish asked.

My dame eyed the menu. The drinks sounded top notch. Top notch. Sidecar. French 75. Mary Pickford. Barbary Coast. Sazerac. You get the picture. My dame piped up.

"I’ll have a Mary Pickford."

"Swell, real swell," the little dish grinned. "And what about you, handsome?"

My dame didn't take to well to that. She never does. But she got over it with the help of her Pickford, what with the white rum, pineapple juice and grenadine in a chilled cocktail glass. The little maraschino cherry swimmin' around in it didn't hurt either. I lit a cigar.

"What’s this Batch 19 brew I've been hearing about," I asked as I took a puff and blew two or threw rings her way.

"It’s this new brew from the fellas at MillerCoors, see," the dish says, crackin' her gum with each new sentence. "They found this old recipe in the basement of their brewery from back in the day. They named it Batch 19 cuz of, you know, 1919 being when they made that prohibition thing legal."
And that's when our story got scary. Nice bar. Swell drinks. Plenty of eats. And this dollface has to go and use the P word. Imagine life without beer like Batch 19. I mean, it's got Strisselpalt and Hersbrucker. Rare German hops and all that. Imagine guys comin' into a joint and bustin' barrels of your favorite beer right in front of your eyes. Yeah, scary alright.

Even scarier was the mugs who blasted in with their sledge hammer. No foolin'. Mugsy, Pugsy and Slugsy. That's right, the Ugsy brothers. They dragged two barrels out on to Second Street and hammered away until everything inside was flowing toward the Allen Bradley Clock. But, the joke was on them, see. Their time was numbered cuz our little trixie behind the bar had her boys stuff those barrels with some other beer. Not our Batch 19. She knew the jig was up.

And we knew our night at Shaker's Cigar Bar was over. We had our fun. It was time to take a powder. As we walked down the street and back into the night I couldn’t help but think. Nice little joint that Shaker’s. I took my dame by the hand and lit one last cigar. Then another for her.

"Come on, gorgeous. I'm takin' you home."

Shakers Cigar Bar and 1894 Palm Garden Restaurant
422 S. 2nd St.

Batch 19
Pre-prohibition style lager


Read Story | Leave A Comment

I Pick iPic

Share This Story:

By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

Finally, it’s the weekend. You’ve plowed through the work week, managing to stay awake in every meeting. You even refrained from maiming Agitating Co-worker Number 5, the one who pumps on a daily gallon of White Diamonds for the whole office to choke on. You've earned it. This is YOUR TIME. No more reports, PowerPoints or parfum coughing fits. You get to choose.

Until your significant other invites two other couples out on YOUR time. Now it's Agitating Decision-Making Time.

"She wants to see a movie, but he wants to go to dinner. She wants fancy cocktails, but he wants to go bowling."

"Let’s do it all!" you scream from your personal, yet modest, mountain top.

"But, we can't pick them all for one night, honey," your other quips with a sharp emphasis on "honey."

"We can and we will because I pick iPic, honey," you retort, with a much sharper emphasis on "honey" and "iPic" because you know iPic solves everyone's night-out problems.

She grins politely as she brushes past you. "I have to get my bowling shoes, honey."

And so, it is once again YOUR TIME. And her time. And his time. And his other's time. Because at iPic, located in scenic Bayshore Town Center, you've got time to do it all. Fancy drinks to fine dining, fun flicks to frame after frame of bowling, every person in the group will get his and her time.

Our group started out in Sequel, iPic's ultra-cool bar, for drinks and appetizers. Decked out with tons of tables, plus a huge bar and plenty of flat-screen TVs, Sequel is the perfect launching pad to any night out. And we'll definitely be making a sequel of our time there after sampling some of their specialty drinks like passion mojitos, the Disaronno Fizz and Poma-cos, a Ketel One concoction with pomegranate liqueur, triple sec, cranberry juice and a splash of sprite. Note: multiplying the above ingredients by 100 in a kiddie pool at your next party would not be a bad idea.

Next we dove into appetizers, namely a couple plates of the smoked salmon quesadilla (goat and cheddar cheese, arugula, shaved red onion and smoked salmon) and it was smokin' hot. Not sure how to say "Mmmmm" in Spanish, but I'm guessing salmon quesadilla is sufficient. Mozzarella logs wrapped in wonton skins logged six exuberant thumbs up and the four cheese blackened shrimp flat bread was anything but flat.

As were our bellies, so we thought a bit of exercise on the bowling lanes was appropriate. With eleven to choose from and a giant wall of TVs in front of every bowler, there's not a bad lane in the house. Throw in some funky, hot pink, lime green and bright orange bowling balls, art deco seating and lane-side food and beverage service and this is definitely not your dad's bowling alley. This is pure fun. And boy did we have fun. For almost two hours, we never left our lane. Our waitress brought us drinks and a mound of nachos (you work up a second hunger slinging a 10-pound ball) topped with fresh jalapeño peppers. Which led to more drinks. Which led to more nachos. Which...

...led to us agreeing to save dinner and a movie for our next iPic visit. Now, who gets to pick the movie is a whole other blog. All I know is I picked iPic and we all had a great time.

iPic Entertainment
Bayshore Town Center
5800 N. Bayshore Drive, Glendale


Read Story | Leave A Comment

Bar food redefined at The Rumpus Room

Share This Story:

By Bill Prange
Web Marketing Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

Bar food is about to take on a whole new meaning.

I recently had the pleasure of getting a sneak peak at the newest venture from The Bartolotta Restaurants, the gastropub known as The Rumpus Room. The pub, located downtown on 1030 N. Water Street, is set to open Tuesday.

The approach to The Rumpus Room was to create a comfortable environment with casual dining, but with the notable culinary preparation in which The Bartolotta Restaurants have made their name. It’s the kind of place that should attract those who may not be in the mood for a lengthy sit-down dinner, but still want great food to go with a few beers.

I must say, they hit the nail right on the head. We were treated to samples of a number of foods from the menu, plus the tapping of their first firkin of beer. Everything they served was a hit. My favorites were, well, everything! But really, each dish that I tasted was fantastic – and I tasted them all! Particular highlights for me were the beer-cheese shooter, the pork shoulder with sweet potato mash, the very well-prepared Scotch egg, the veal loaf and the Rumpus bar.

Some of the items were foods that I wouldn’t normally order, but having tried them and having loved them, I expect to be ordering them again in the very near future.

As you can see from the beer book, there is also plenty of beer to choose from. This includes some rare bottles that you’re not likely to find anywhere else.

A few other interesting notes about the gastropub:

  • The name “The Rumpus Room” was inspired by the tavern Joe Bartolotta’s father established.
  • The interior of the restaurant – comparable to a sort of high-end speakeasy with industrial and steampunk touches – was designed entirely by Joe.
  • Flooring was made from reclaimed sheep fencing.
  • The restaurant will offer 50 wines for under $50.
  • All the cheese at the charcuterie station is from Wisconsin.
  • The old school, hand-crank meat slicer is imported from Italy.
  • They have a special ice machine that makes extra-large ice cubes. The ice cubes are used exclusively for bourbon drinks, since typical bar/restaurant ice melts too fast to be used in a proper bourbon drink.

Joe mentioned that Milwaukee has bars that we love, and Milwaukee has restaurants that we love. Now we have both in one. We’re lucky to have such a fantastic culinary scene in Milwaukee, and that will just be enhanced with the addition of The Rumpus Room.

Head to our Facebook page to see more pictures from our visit to the Rumpus Room. Click here to see what others are saying about the new gastropub.

The Rumpus Room
1030 N. Water Street


Read Story | Leave A Comment

Open letter to the UNfans at Miller Park on October 1

Share This Story:

By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

Dear Section 208 UNfans:

WHERE WERE YOU AND WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!? I know typing in ALL CAPS is rude, crude and an overall challenge to the pupils, but it’s come to that. When you're a no-show for one of the most-anticipated Milwaukee Brewers games since Duran Duran was popular, you've got to expect the reflex (I thought Rio-lize might work, too) of the man you were supposed to sit next to would be quick.

That man, me, and my wife, her, enjoyed an electric day at and around Miller Park. Walking down Bluemound Road toward the stadium, the atmosphere was comparable to game days at Lambeau Field or Camp Randall (don't tell me you've no-showed there as well) with revelers packing pubs along the way, filling every inch of every sidewalk with blue and gold.

One pub, two beers and two blue and gold beaded necklaces (thanks Miller girls!) later, we were shuttling toward the park. You know that famous scene in every movie (assuming you actually go into theaters after purchasing your ticket) when they enter Las Vegas and it's this once-in-a-lifetime "wow moment" of sensory nirvana? Think of that "wow" plus the sweet wafting nectar of brats on the grill. Mmmm, hazy Miller Park parking lots.

Once inside, there was more sensory overload, but good overload. Forty thousand towels waving in hypnotic unison. Cameras flashing non-stop like an endless Morse code. High fives from total strangers (I went to high five you several times - it was very embarrassing). Cold beers, steamy hot dogs and salty peanuts. And a pitcher's mound of nachos heaped into a Brewers helmet. And they say the wheel was genius.

The real genius was the swing Prince Fielder put on a hanging curve ball in the seventh inning. The ball went screaming past our (er, not your) section into the right field bleachers to make it 4-0 Brewers, all but securing a playoff-game victory. Insert more towel waving and high fives. You get the picture.

Oh wait, you didn’t get pictures because YOU DIDN'T SHOW UP! Well, enjoy mine. I took a lot. As did the other 44,122 in attendance. It would have been nice to make it 44,124, but I understand. NO, I REALLY DON’T.

There I go in all caps again. Sorry, I guess that's my way of tipping my cap to you for being such an UNfan. Hopefully you don't have to wait three decades to get another shot at a game like that. But, if you do, I know I'll be in my seats. And I'll buy you a beer if you show up.


The fan next to you


Read Story | Leave A Comment