By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jun 06, 2024 at 2:26 PM

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It’s easy to remember the date Blackbird Bar, 3007 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., opened its doors because it was a milestone evening not only for Bay View's bar scene, but also for Americans in general.

“It was Nov. 4, 2008 – the night Obama was elected for the first time,” says co-owner Holly Doar. “It was a big party.”

When Blackbird first launched, its cozy “Up North” tavern vibe was unique to Milwaukee. Doar’s vision was to create a space that provided a genuine feeling of getting away, especially during winter.


Back then, Blackbird's focus was celebrating Wisconsin culture. “At one time, we had the most Wisconsin-brewed beers in the state,” says Doar. “Now we focus on local micro breweries with small distribution.”

Such breweries include Amorphic Beer, Supermoon Beer Company and more. “We have an awesome beer selection. My husband does a really good job picking tasty stuff,” says Doar.

Blackbird also offers a solid selection of craft cocktails, draft cocktails, kombuchas, seltzers, ciders, CBD/THC drinks, social tonics and myriad NA options. 

During a recent visit, we tried one of their in-house-batched draft cocktails called “Sunglasses At Night” made with Cazadores Reposado, pineapple, Ancho Reyes Verde-Poblano, lemongrass and citrus. We found the cocktail crisp and refreshing yet with a pleasing smoky bite.


At one time, bottles of Pabst packed Blackbird's coolers, but new drinking preferences means stocking new beverages.

“Demand has really changed over the years,” says Doar. “A lot of people aren’t drinking alcohol, but they still want to go out and enjoy a beverage."

This trend in consuming less alcohol is not problematic for Doar. Sure, Blackbird is a bar that will always serve the beers and the boozes, but the heart of the business has always been more about rallying the community and providing a space for good times, conversation and relaxation.

“Our main thing is being involved in the community,” says Doar. “We’re known as a bar that cares about the community and that's important to us.”

Blackbird participates in many Bay View events, including Bay View Gallery Nights and block parties. The Doars offer up their space on Saturdays and Sundays for free from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. to organizations aligned with their visions – as well as for private parties of 10 people or more.

This season, Blackbird’s patio is at its finest, sporting a vibrant mural painted by local artist Emma Daisy and many lush plants from eight-foot banana trees to gorgeous succulents. There's also raised bed herb gardens that supply cocktail garnishes. 

Photo by Leah Redmond

“We added sound on the patio this year which adds even more of a chill, tropical vibe,” says Doar. “We want people to feel like they’re on vacation and can unwind - even just for a couple of hours.”

Blackbird celebrates happy hour daily, starting at 4 p.m., which includes drink specials and wheel spinning for discounts and prizes. Starting June 20, it will host a weekly, Thursday night hip hop spin sponsored by RushMor Records during which draft cocktails and Old Fashioneds will be on special. 

Blackbird also throws pinball tournaments on the first Sunday of every month at 6 p.m. Blackbird will soon add a second, midmonth tournament on Wednesday nights. 

Photo by Holly Doar

“Pinball is extremely popular here. We started out with one machine and now we have five,” says Doar. "Our Medieval Madness machine has been a staple at Blackbird for 10 years."

Doar says she and her husband are a good team and they split the work both in the bar as well as on the patio. “I’m more the design person and he’s more the dig-the-hole person,” she says.

Doar is also involved in the soon-to-open The Wiggle Room, Milwaukee's first vinyl listening lounge, that will be run by Chris Schulist and Jim McCann. The building is located across the street from Blackbird at 2988 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. For 20 years, Lee’s Luxury Lounge occupied the space.

“It’s a really great spot for the neighborhood and we don't want corporations coming in and buying our buildings,” says Doar.

In November, Blackbird will celebrate 16 years in business.

“We’re thinking about throwing a sweet 16 party,” says Doar. “Stay tuned.”

Blackbird Bar is open daily at 4 p.m. Happy hour is seven days a week from 4 to 8 p.m. 


Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.