"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, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
2335 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
A former horse stable set back from Kinnickinnic Ave., the Tonic Tavern isn't much to look at from the outside. Inside, though, cool, simple lines and a retro paint scheme are highlighted by reclaimed wood tables and trim cut from the original loft.
The bar is the brainchild of Paul Jonas, a long-time fixture in the Milwaukee nightlife scene (he's also part of The 5-Card Studs). That means Tonic features occasional live music to go along with its notoriously stiff drinks. Jonas also brings in DJs, and Sunday night is Tonic's local singer/songwriter series.
Menu: You won't find specialty drinks at this no-nonsense tap, but Tonic does serve nine craft beers on draft. Currently, the cocktail lounge has about 60 bottles in its repertoire, too, and Tonic keeps it local with Sprecher, Lakefront and Rehorst.
Price: Inexpensive to moderate. More expensive than some "shot and a beer" places in Bay View, but on par with its neighbors. Tap beers range from $3 to $5. Rails cocktails are $4, while call and top shelf are about $5-6. Tonic also runs happy hours with two-for-one rails and domestic bottles, and late-night happy hours, too. Every night, Tonic features a special, like $3 pints or $5 glasses of wine.
When to go: The huge patio is perfect in the summer, but an indoor fireplace keeps it cozy in the winter. This is the kind of bar you can hunker down in and keep the conversation flowing until bar time.
Dress: Casual. If you get too dressed up, you're missing the point.
Don't miss: In an era in which bartenders are increasingly generic, Paul "PK" Kennedy is an exception. This veteran barkeep not only mixes means drinks, but every night is a veritable stand-up comedy routine. PK jokes his bartending motto is to "protect and overserve."
Parking: On this part of KK, it's surprisingly ample. If you can't find a spot right in front of the bar, you'll get pretty close. And if it's packed, there's a public lot around the corner on Lincoln Avenue.
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.