By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Oct 29, 2007 at 4:41 PM

Milwaukee might be the last big city in America to get its first champagne bar, but even if the trend is no longer all that trendy, the new Cuvee is still pretty cool.

A group of us dropped in to the new bar, 177 N. Broadway, last Friday night. The ambience is a little compromised as you take an elevator with bright fluorescent lights to the top floor. But once up there, the novelty of sipping champagne in this well-designed penthouse of a Cream City brick building has a totally unique feel.

The tables all have a cut out donut hole of sorts for storing the chilled bottles of bubbly, which take a maximum of 10 minutes from display case to your flute. Some are already chilled and show up much sooner.

Being the silly group we are, we first asked for Cristal, then backed off when we heard it would set us back a few hundred bucks. Instead, we picked Cristalino (mostly because it sounded like Cristal) for under $30. You can also buy the wine to go, and it costs about half the price of drinking it in the bar.

The bartender, who demonstrated a refined technique of opening the bottles of sparkling wine, suggested our next one: a sparkling Shiraz that tasted a little like a super-fancy wine cooler. It was received very well by our group, of which perhaps four of us have tried Dom Perignon but only two could explain why it's good.

We picked our third and final bottle based on the Italian mural screened on the label. It fell in the same price range and tasted slightly sweeter than the first. Our tab for the night was a modest, but not insignificant, $86. But that breaks down to less than $20 per person with tip, which isn't too bad, considering none of us needed any more bubbly after these three bottles.

Cuvee isn't the kind of place you'll want to visit every weekend, but it's certainly a nice change of pace. It's great to see a Milwaukee bar trying something new, even if the concept is at least a decade old 90 miles to the south. I hope it does well and encourages other entrepreneurs to push the envelope in bringing new ideas to this old town.

Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.