"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com 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, bartender profiles and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
There is something comforting about being a "regular" at a bar. Knowing you can walk in and have your drink waiting when you've sat down at your favorite stool, telling the bartender about your life -- and learning about his or hers -- and just being in the company of a special group of friends lends itself to a feeling of community.
Over the years, we at OnMilwaukee.com have been lucky enough to visit a number of Milwaukee's watering holes, but as with most things in life, nothing quite captures the feeling of your first. Here is a look at the bars that still hold a special part in our hearts.
I was underage when I first starting playing at the actual underground Underground on Broadway. Owner Tony Selig knew it, but was cool. He knew I wasn't there to drink -- I still was in the straight edge mentality I'd brought with me from NYC -- but to play (or hear) music and I never had trouble getting in or got harassed when I was there. But, honestly, I can't recall ever bellying up to the bar. When the venue moved above-ground, I was still there and still playing, and I spent a lot of time there. I'm not sure if it was still open by the time I turned 21, but I suspect by then it had morphed into Club New York or whatever it was called afterward.
Nomad World Pub
I have always liked to mix it up, so I can't say I have ever been a "regular" at any bar, but when the Nomad World Pub first opened in 1993, I lived nearby and went there a lot. I remember the early Stein Club days, the photo contests and when bands crammed into the cozy window seating area to perform a set or two. I met a lot of people through the Nomad and it continues to be one of my favorite Milwaukee bars today.
I moved to Milwaukee right after I turned 21. I had snuck into bars with my fake ID before, but Cactus was really the first place I went with any regularity. I initially went there to catch a show, but liked the dive bar vibe it had at the time with it's old black walls and horseshoe shaped bar, which made people watching fun. Milwaukee's music scene was killing it at the time and there were a lot of fun wild shows going on. It seemed like people bought you drinks out of spite, because it happened with such regularity. I was kind of bummed when it underwent renovations a few years ago, but got over it pretty quickly. The bartenders are still great. I dig thecrowd. And the club has been booking some great shows lately.
If you hail from 'Stallis, you know about the Monkey. In a city with a bar (almost) on every corner, the Brass Monkey, 11904 W. Greenfield Ave. in West Allis, is the go-to bar for the younger crowd to hang out and drink without having to worry about covers, pricey drinks and figuring out where to park. The Monkey was where my friends and I spent a lot of our drinking time the summer after I turned 21, and it was even where I rang in 2009. I still can't walk into the place without seeing someone I went to high school with and the same bartenders have been there forever, so even if I haven't been there in months it feels like I've only been gone a week. Oh, and in case you were wondering: yes, they do have actual brass monkeys, and no, you are not cool if you play the song.
Senior Staff Writer
Throughout the years, I've had a number of "regular" haunts; the last few years, I have rarely left Old World 3rd St., preferring to stick to the Old German Beer Hall or the Milwaukee Brat House. During my college days, I set up shop at Barley and Hops in Oshkosh. A short stint in Winona, Minn. made me a regular at Brother's. But my first "regular" bar was a neighborhood joint called "My Place" at 76th & Bluemound. Today, it's been cleaned up and turned into Brewski's Sports Bar, but 12 years ago ... it was "my" place. The same few souls were seated at the bar on a nightly basis and despite my young age, they welcomed me in. The $1 taps of High Life were a steal for a guy not making a lot of money and went a long way in tricking me I knew how to throw darts. I've heard a lot of good things about Brewski's, but I'll admit, I haven't yet been ... it just won't be the same.