We've rolled into the final year of smoky bars and cigarettes over beers. At least indoors that is.
The impending smoking ban (the legislation bans smoking in virtually all workplaces, including taverns, bars and restaurants) goes into effect July 5, 2010 and so with less than a year left to light up, Milwaukeeans have a limited time to embrace and enjoy their tobacco filled evenings.
I'm not a smoker, never have been, and while I am unquestionably in favor of the smoking-ban, I've never been overly bothered by smoke in bars.
Maybe I have a physiological immunity preventing irritated eyes or perhaps I'm not being realistic about the long term affect on my health, but smoke isn't something keeping me out of certain establishments or dramatically tainting an evening out with friends.
However, I hold a precise and admittedly unfair distinction about where smoking should and should not occur.
I've accepted that when I go out for a cocktail, smoke is often a side-note of the evening but I have absolutely no tolerance for smoking in restaurants. Whether it's a coffee shop, café or even 24-hour diner like Denny's or George Webb's, I will avoid the smoking section like the plague.
That being said, I'm more than thrilled that I can come to expect something different starting next summer.
But in the meantime, there are certain Milwaukee establishments that have based their existence on the smoking crowd and for them, this year will be a farwell of tradition.
Bowling alleys in particular, are known for the cloud of haze billowing out the front door. Bowlers who frequent Landmark Lanes, Bay View Bowl and Red Carpet Lanes do so with the promise of a beer and cigarette in hand. Potentially a few of the smokiest buildings in town, these alleys are probably the most adverse to the changes the smoking ban promises.
And of course there are the local corner bars. The signature of any Milwaukee neighborhood, these bars usually draw regulars who routinely stop in for an after work beer and smoke.
Typically not updated and foregoing any trendy nightlife spectacle, these bars embrace the monotony of simplicity and disdain change.
Milwaukee's sports bars are another institution prone to long smoky afternoons and evenings. Places like Buck Bradley's, Fanatics, Leff's Lucky Town and Rookies all draw a crowd of fans looking to spend hour upon hour watching any number of local and national games. Eating, drinking and smoking, these establishments have long offered fans all the conveniences to make a day indoors fun and satisfying.
So with less than a year to go, which bars do you think will feel the greatest impact? Which bars will you visit to enjoy one final smoke? Use the Talkback feature below to voice your favorite smoke filled saloon.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.