By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Dec 23, 2020 at 11:01 AM

Milwaukee’s newest bar has quietly made its debut, offering a safe respite for couples and small groups to enjoy a celebratory tipple (or even a full-on staycation) while supporting one of the city’s newest refurbished historical venues.

The Dubbel Dutch Tavern, located inside the Dubbel Dutch Hotel at 817 N. Marshall St., represents a significant shift for the much-anticipated boutique hotel, which successfully timed its opening this summer to coincide with the Democratic National Convention, a landmark event which ended up to be little more than a casualty of the pandemic. Along the way, they also found themselves without an operator for the accompanying bar and restaurant.

“When we found ourselves without a food and beverage operator earlier this year, we had to make an unexpected pivot,” says co-owner and developer Juli Kaufmann, who purchased the historic property with partners Patrick Jones and Andy Braatz. “It wasn’t an ideal time to ask someone to invest in a project like this. So we decided to manage the venue on our own until we could find a new operator that was a good fit.”

Beautiful historic digs

Built to offer relaxing amenities to the guests who occupy the Dubbel Dutch’s 17 well-appointed guest rooms, the tavern offers a menu of classic cocktails, beer and wine. It also offers an atmosphere befitting of the 1898 English Renaissance Revival Style gem in which it resides. 

Dubbel Dutch Tavern interiorX

Inside, guests will find a full-service tavern that reflects the historic era of the former home with elements like a custom-built mahogany bar and two original fireplaces lit with decorative candles. 

Those elements are knit together with tastefully chosen safety enhancements including custom-made glass dividers, all part of an aggressive city-approved COVID-19 plan (which includes social distancing, mask-wearing, regular COVID-19 testing and sanitation practices) enacted to keep guests as safe as possible.

The bar offers full table service, with guests’ choice of three interior seating areas: the main tavern, the lobby lounge and a private salon that seats up to six at a mix of small two to four-top tables.

A private deck off the back of the bar (as well as a front porch area) provide outdoor seating, complete with patio heaters to fend off the chill. 

Behind the bar is Kelly Burns, a Marquette University graduate who brings hospitality management experience, a background in social welfare and justice, and a keen sense of Midwestern hospitality to her role as Tavern manager and events coordinator for the hotel.

Her menu includes a host of classics from brandy or whiskey old fashioneds and Manhattans to a pink gin martini, plus seasonal offerings like the Chai Rye with barrel-aged Limousine rye, Twisted Path Chai Liqueur, turbinado syrup, bitters and flamed orange; and the In a Nutshell featuring Dewar's 8-year Caribbean cask rum, Nocello walnut liqueur, egg white, lemon and chocolate bitters (all cocktails priced at $8-11).

CocktailX

Guests will also find beer, wine, cider, a selection of boilermakers and non-alcoholic options including sparkling water, juices and soda. On Sundays, the bar also offers coffee, bloody marys and mimosas.

Guests are welcome to stop in during regular Tavern hours or (even better) make a reservation so that staff can plan and prepare for your visit. Guests are also invited to take time for a personal tour of the beautifully refurbished hotel (tours include a peek at guest rooms, insights into the history of the building and stories behind architectural details that have been preserved).

“We have the advantage of being something new and intriguing on the market,” says Kaufmann. “But people aren’t traveling extensively right now. So we are striving mightily to make this locally owned hotel financially feasible and doing everything we can to serve our guests and the neighborhood.”

Cocktail toolsX

The Dubbel Dutch is currently working with local vendors to procure a menu of snacks and light bites guests as they move into 2021 (cheese and charcuterie boards are on the way); but they also strive to connect with a long-standing food operator for the hotel. Inquiries can be directed to Juli Kaufmann by email at hello@thedubbeldutch.com 

Your staycation awaits

After a year like 2020, all of us deserve a moment to rest, relax and unwind. Even if you’re not up for more extensive travel, the Dubbel Dutch offers an attractive option for a Cream City staycation.

The hotel, which is currently operating at low occupancy, offers 17 unique rooms with unique locally crafted modern interiors, comfortable beds and little luxuries like custom water glasses and mugs made by local artists and locally made organic bath and body products. Each room is also heated and cooled with an independent HVAC system that pulls in fresh air directly from the outdoors.

Dubbel Dutch guest room
Room 306 (Classic King); photo by Karl Herschede
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Rooms also sport modern conveniences like high speed wi-fi, in-room smart TV’s (so you can Netflix and chill) and custom furniture that’s made with comfort in mind. Guests can also order wine, beer, cocktails or cocktail kits delivered right to their rooms.

Guests have easy access to local restaurants, accommodating easy carry-out or delivery. The hotel is also a short walk from both Downtown and the lakefront, making it easy to get out and explore the area by foot.

Elements like contactless entry and self check-in via kiosk reduce human touchpoints, enabling both guests and staff to easily follow social distancing guidelines. The hotel also staggers reservations, ensuring a minimum of 24 hours between stays to allow for thorough cleaning and disinfection of accommodations.

Discounted rates are currently available for local folks looking for a brief getaway (save 30% with code HOLIDAY through Jan. 1). Gift cards are also available for holiday gift-giving (or if you’d like to purchase now for a staycation at a later date).

The Dubbel Dutch Tavern is open Thursday through Saturday from 4 to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 8:30 p.m. The tavern will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, reopening with hours on Dec. 26 from 4 to 10:30 p.m. and Dec. 27 from 2 to 8 p.m. 

For more information, or to book your staycation, visit thedubbeldutch.com.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.