By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Feb 09, 2010 at 9:45 AM

"Bar Month" at is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

All this Bar Month talk here at has got me thinking about the time I've spent seated at a bar over the years, a cold pint in front of me. And thinking about the drink stirs nostalgic memories of places where I felt particularly at home on a barstool.

There was the old Tamarack, on State Street. In my early days at the Milwaukee Journal, I was a general assignment reporter, starting my work day at 6:30 a.m. and heading across the street to the 'Rack around 3:30.

We drank beer by the pitcher in those days -- quantity still more important than quality. Although as our brews turned micro, pitchers got pretty pricey.

The Tamarack is long-closed, replaced by several successors. But whatever has located in the building, it's never been home to me.

I moved on, and my drinking was pushed a bit later, to the 5 p.m. hour or so. My destination moved closer to home, to the venerable Shorewood Inn on Oakland Avenue. At that early hour, before the dinner crowd, the waitresses would sit at the bar playing sudoku or chatting. Jeff Meinhardt was behind the bar, always willing to talk about some TV show or a local radio personality or offer some of the Oakland Avenue gossip.

I could easily walk to the Shorewood Inn, which I did every now and then, on a free Saturday evening. A couple glasses of whatever Lakefront that happened to be on tap washed down the weekly prime rib special. This was, quite literally, a meat and potatoes bar, homey and comfortable.

I knew the regulars. Hell, I was a regular.

While Jeff was behind the bar, his dad, Bill, was back in the kitchen, keeping things ship-shape, a skill he'd learned in his Coast Guard days. Bill's wife, Carol, took on regular hostess duties, always with a warm smile.

I'll admit there were times when I had a tad too much to drink and stayed too late. But those times were rare. And I knew that even if I was little over my limit, the folks here were watching out for me.

Once when I was under the weather for a few days, Jeff even brought a quart of his dad's chicken noodle soup to  my house.

For me, the Shorewood Inn was a place to chat and sip. A friend of mine liked to joke that I left my slippers and toothbrush there, it was that much of a second home. There were characters galore: Straw Hat John, Cigar Bob, Miller Lite Mike, Young Wagz, Old Wagz and, of course, The Doctor. I got to know most of them beyond those nicknames. Some of them became close friends, connections that outlived the place.

Just before Bill Meinhardt died in 2005, he sold the building and it was eventually replaced by the Brit Inn. A fire hit last summer, and the bar has been dark ever since.

But the Shorewood Inn wasn't just a bar. It wasn't the physical location. It was a magical combination of people both behind and in front of the bar. The magic may not have worked for everybody, but it sure did for me.

If Bar Month has any resonance with you, I'm betting there's a Shorewood Inn in your past -- a magical place that lives only in your memory. Feel free to share yours.

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.