By Maureen Post Special to Published Jan 16, 2009 at 2:27 PM

The cold weather kind of kills my nightlife.

More accurately, it kills my drive to leave the house for dining, shopping or going out.

A sad result of the brutal Wisconsin winter is that as the cold days turn into cold weeks and time spent outside in daylight hours becomes less and less, I start to instinctively think cuddling up at home is the only satisfying option.

I've asked around and I'm certainly not the only one hesitant to leave the house in freezing temps. Whereas in the summer you'd find people hopping from one bar to the next, grabbing snacks from vendors on the street and walking between neighborhood destinations, in January, February and March you're lucky if friends will escape the confines of the couch for a quick beer at your local pub.

It's a sort of self-preservation completely understandable and at times dutifully warranted.  But weekend after weekend, is it still fun? I mean, can't we find ways to make it through the bitter winter?

I've started to get creative in the search for a vitamin D replacement during the winter months and I've found there are plenty of restaurants, bars and events out there giving you reason to bundle up and leave the house.

Balzac offers "Flight Night." I'm a huge fan of the cheese plate, sandwich and flat bread menu at Balzac and it's easy for you to take advantage of red wine warming agents with half-priced flights on Monday. The bar is classy yet relaxed and draws a strong crowd despite dozens of surrounding options.

At Random is another one of my favorites. You can snuggle up in the darkly dimed booths for a warm mug of coffee and anything- baileys, kahlua, rum; whichever liquor warms you most. It is great destination for a date but I've gone with groups of friends and while maybe we disturbed a few couples, the glow of the holiday lit décor warmed us just the same.

The Irish part of County Clare understands a cold, harsh winter. Prepping chunky Irish stew, thick Guinness and buttery mash potatoes daily is the Irish (and my) response to an evening of dreary doldrums. In addition to Irish Coffee and Hot Whiskey, they boil a special combo of apple cider, lemon rum, Celtic Crossing Liquor and cinnamon sticks.

With Jamaican Red Stripe on special, the side room at The Tracks is packed with a few legit and plenty of faux trivia aficionados every Thursday. The heat of the competition, warmth of the packed crowd and sense of sunny Jamaican breezes, make this a hot and happening Thursday night.

And then, there's Two. Can't say I've made it there yet, but all accounts call it a pretty hot choice. The newcomer to Riverwest encourages you to use body heat to keep warm. From two-seater booths with private curtains to a drink list focused on shareable creations, Two encourages you to bring your private cuddle public.

Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.