By Renee Lorenz Special to Published Jul 30, 2011 at 3:53 PM

The story of Goldilocks is pretty well known. A little blond girl breaks into a house owned by a family of anthropomorphic bears and proceeds to jack up their chairs, porridge and beds while they're out doing, I don't know, bear stuff. But what if, instead of being a cute little fairy tale girl with no respect for property, Goldilocks had some sense and happened to be just a little bit of a lush? Well, that'd be me.

I've decided to explore every bar, pub, lounge and dive Milwaukee has to offer – in sets of three, just to be cute. Check back often as I embark on regular bar tours with my self-proclaimed "magical sidekick," Jessie. And don't worry – I'm too much of a taste chameleon to ever find one that's "just right."

The hardest part of starting a series like Goldilocks and the Three Bars is finding something sufficiently awesome to follow up the kickoff.

I have enough semi-clever ideas to last me months, but I wanted to pick something for round two that a) was exciting enough to keep me (and you, I guess) entertained, and b) didn't require a whole lot of effort. Technically, this is for work, but if it starts becoming work, well then clearly I'm doing something horribly wrong.

So where do two lush-tastic ladies go to drink and have a good time? No, not there. Come on, stay focused. I'm talking the good old bar standby, the Irish pub.

Interestingly enough, while Milwaukee is saturated with them, only a handful are O'Something'ses. Some people might consider that disappointing, but it makes my life a whole lot easier when I'm trying to narrow the field down to three.

With the theme decided, our second Goldilocks and the Three Bars was set: O'Connor's, O'Brien's and O'Lydia's.

O'Connor's Perfect Pint, 8423 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis

As native 'Stallians, Jessie and I have been to O'Connor's before, which explains why she sounded less than enthused when I told her it was going on the tour. This isn't to say there's anything wrong with the place; rather, it's one of those no-frills bars that sets out to get its job done, plain and simple.

O'Connor's is a small place. It's more well known because it's a Milwaukee area Irish bar and its location just off 84th and Greenfield makes it a convenient stop for State Fair-goers, but it's built for the neighborhood crowd. It's got a standard bar, an adjacent room with darts and other bar games, and not much else.

By Water Street standards, there's a lot that O'Connor's isn't. What it does have going for it, though, is cheap drinks, good service and good conversation.

We got there around 5 p.m., and there was already a good-sized group sitting around the bar chatting with the bartender. Still, just as soon as we sat down, the bartender was ready to take our order.

My Strongbow ended up being all of $2, thanks to the day's special on imports – one of the various deals the bar offers every day of the week. Yeah, even Fridays and Saturdays. I could have left right then and there and still given the bar a full endorsement on that alone.

They're in the process of setting up a projector screen to start Sunday movie nights, but I was more entertained by all the kitschy signs and sayings scattered throughout the place that I'm pretty sure are a prerequisite for bars calling themselves Irish. Example: proudly featured in the game room, the saying "May you die in bed at 95 shot by a jealous spouse" is proudly painted across the wall. Nice.

For me, the best part about our visit happened on our way out. Often when you leave a bar, if you get thanked it's absentmindedly by your server or in passing by a host or hostess. As we were getting up to leave O'Connor's, the bartender took a second from his conversation farther down the bar to give us probably the most sincere 'Have a good one, thanks for stopping by' I've ever gotten at any bar, ever.

And that is why more people should drink at their neighborhood bars.

O'Brien's, 4928 W. Vliet St.

Like O'Connor's, O'Brien's has a great "regular" bar feel and the cute old timey Guinness ads and Irish bar signage. O'Brien's just happens to feature it in a package close to three or four times bigger.

If Irish cabins exist (and I really hope they do), O'Brien's would make a perfect model. The place is all kinds of rustic – stone fireplace, wooden floor, and amazing log cabin smell that totally took me back to my "up north" days.

The depth of the place is kind of deceptive from the street. In addition to the bar area, it's got a small side seating area up front and to the right when you walk in, plus a longer space to the left and even a second bar further back from that. Doubling as a sports bar of sorts, the bar also has a decent collection of flat screens mounted around the whole space.

I was miffed there was no Strongbow on tap, but they still had it by the bottle. Not the same, but I'm not complaining. What I will (and did, jokingly) complain about is Jessie getting a free drink because the Name of the Day, according to the specials board, was Jessica – in honor of the bartender's daughter being in town for a visit. He assured me they'd put my name on the list, which a nice elderly gent sitting at the bar insisted was "how they get you." He was wearing a t-shirt that said "You had me at 'beer'" though, so I'm pretty sure that's not how they got him.

What probably brings him – and many others – in so regularly are the bar's quirky specials, like National Legal Drinking Age Day (where patrons can bring in their old fake IDs, and legit current IDs of course, for a free drink) and something called Barbie in a Blender Day, which earns all patrons that bring in a busted-up Barbie doll a free shot.

Specials or no, the drinks were still pretty darn cheap. Lucky break freebie aside, Jessie's first non-rail mixer only cost $5 (She's not a beer person, but I don't judge ... often). Between the cheap drinks and relaxing atmosphere, O'Brien's is far too easy to settle in at. With one more stop to make, we settled up instead and got a move on.

O'Lydia's, 338. S. 1st St.

Finding O'Lydia's turned out to be a problem for us (mostly Jessie), because even though it's easy to spot on the corner of 1st and Florida in Walker's Point, we (mostly Jessie) had some technical difficulties with the (Jessie's) smartphone map. It was nobody's fault, really. Once we got there, though, we wasted no time taking our drinks to the patio.

Technically, there are two patios. The enclosed patio is connected to the bar by way of a semi-counter-intuitive sliding door that really looks like it ought to be pulled. Apparently enough people have drawn the same conclusion, because the door had a handwritten "Slide --->" sign on it. Anyway, we passed through the enclosed patio – which even has its own bar for busy nights – and grabbed a table outside.

We were all set for some peaceful lounging to finish off our tour, and it would have been – if it weren't for the d*mn trains.

O'Lydia's is right by the train tracks, and the patio is literally right. by. the train tracks. I know there's no possible way it's the bar's fault, but anyone interested in spending any time out there should be warned that, while it's worth enjoying once they've cleared out, those things are screechy and godawful.

Thankfully, we only had to endure three relatively short nails-on-a-chalkboard moments the entire time we were outside, which worked out just fine by me. Once again staying much longer than anticipated, we chose to stick around for dinner and each ordered a build-your-own burger. There are plenty of Irish dishes to choose from if you're a purist, but the burger options took up half the page and sounded too good to pass up. As per usual, I was totally right.

With the trains (finally) at bay and a warm summer evening coming to a close, O'Lydia's patio was a perfect way to finish the tour off drinking into the sunset. And for those of you waiting for a bathroom review: I'm sorry, there wasn't anything more noteworthy than O'Lydia's' green and orange tiles. I'll just have to owe you a drink instead.

Interested in future Goldilocks and the Three Bars adventures? Stay tuned here, or follow me on Twitter @Eenergee for real-time bar tour commentary. And if you want me to drink at your favorite bar, that's what Talkbacks and @Mentions are for.

Renee Lorenz Special to

Contrary to her natural state of being, Renee Lorenz is a total optimist when it comes to Milwaukee. Since beginning her career with, her occasional forays into the awesomeness that is the Brew City have turned into an overwhelming desire to discover anything and everything that's new, fun or just ... "different."

Expect her random musings to cover both the new and "new-to-her" aspects of Miltown goings-on, in addition to periodically straying completely off-topic, which usually manifests itself in the form of an obscure movie reference.