By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published May 28, 2009 at 8:24 AM

The origin of the drinking vessel is uncertain, but over time, humans developed a vast array of containers to hold liquids from the simple cup to the ornate goblet. Most bars stick with the basics: pint glasses, cocktail glasses, wine glasses and maybe champagne flutes or beer steins, but some watering holes take drinkware to a new level.

Bars and restaurants owned by Mike Eitel and Eric Wagner of the Diablos Rojos Group feature a fleet of uncommon drinking vessels. This appreciation for alternative tumblers began more than a decade ago when The Nomad World Pub, 1401 E. Brady St., introduced the Stein Club, which invited drinkers to purchase a personalized ceramic mug created by Eitel’s father, who is a Cedarburg-based potter.

The mugs are stored behind the bar and Stein Club members receive a discount on mugs of beer. (The Stein Club is so popular that, unfortuately, there isn't room for new members.)

Because of Eitel’s and Wagner’s penchant for Belgian beer, their other establishments -- including Café Hollander, 2608 N. Downer Ave., Abbey Biercafé, 134 E. Juneau Ave., and Café Centraal, 2306 S. Kinnickinic Ave. -- have the necessary glassware to properly serve Belgian and Belgian-style beer.

There are more than 1,000 types of Belgian beer and most have their own glasses, including Kwak, a Belgian amber with a creamy head that’s served in a glass tube with a bulbous bottom. The unique drinking vessel is served in a wooden stand because the glass -- which ensures a frothy head -- cannot stand on its own.

Eitel says his customers find the Belgian glasses intriguing, not intimidating.

"Most people who see the funky glass while drinking something 'normal' inquire and end up trying a new beer to get the experience of drinking out of the proper glassware for each type of glass," says Eitel.

The Palm Tavern, 2989 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., has a large collection of Belgian glassware, as well, and co-owner Adrienne Pierluissi says the bar will host a combination sixth anniversary party / glass giveaway this weekend.  The event takes place from 7 to 11 p.m. Sunday and 6-10 p.m. Monday.

"When you buy a beer, any beer, you get a ticket that lets people pick something from our table of crazy glassware," says Pierluissi. "There's a limit of three glass pieces per person, but a couple can walk away with a set of six."

Blackbird Bar, 3007 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is one of a few local bars that serves absinthe, a highly alcoholic, anise-flavored spirit that’s enjoyed in small reservoir glasses. Café Centraal serves three different kinds of absinthe in special absinthe glasses, along with the ice water fountain, spoons and sugar which are also necessary for the absinthe experience.

Years ago, a Walker’s Point bar called Zur Krone (in the space that now houses Crazy Water, 839 S. 2nd St.) was locally famous for serving beer in a glass boot, and today, the afore-mentioned Abbey Biercafé continues this tradition.

William Laurila is a server at Abbey, and he says drinkers usually order the boot filled with Miller Lite.

"The boot is made by Hacker-Pschorr, but if you wanna chug it, you have to go with Miller Lite. Any of the Belgians would put you on your ass," says Laurila.

The secret to drinking from the boot -- as seen in the movie "Beerfest" -- is to avoid creating an air pocket in the toe which results in a splash of beer to the face. The trick is to slowly turn the beer boot while drinking it so the air bubble doesn’t form and cause an unexpected brew shower.

Other bars, like At Random, 2501 S. Delaware Ave., and Two, 718 E. Burleigh Ave., serve cocktails in massive, fishbowl-like containers.

Two, billed as Milwaukee’s only "makeout bar," features a few sharable cocktails on its menu, including the Love Potion No. 9 that’s served in a 60-ounce bowl with two straws. At Random’s famous Tiki Love Bowl is also presented in a large, glass vessel and it arrives on fire, thanks to the flammable 151-proof rum that’s one of the many potent ingredients in this classic couples’ cocktail.

Foundation, 2718 N. Bremen St., serves a bunch of tropical cocktails in Mai Tai glasses and tiki cups, and drinkers can keep the glasses for an extra $5-7. Foundy’s exotic concoctions include The Zombie, Tahitian Sling, Scorpion, Outrigger and Tiki Torch. The bar also serves a flaming volcano bowl that features rums and fruit juices and, according to the tavern's Web site, "is perfect for that romantic evening."

The Safe House, 770 N. Front St., serves numerous spy-themed cocktails in take-home glasses, including the fruit-punchy Spy's Demise that comes in a pint glass embossed with the bar’s logo.
Mark Klaus collected the Safe House’s signature barware for 10 years, but he doesn’t drink from the glasses.

"I have dozens of glasses from the Safe House that I’ll use someday if the place closes. Or maybe I’ll sell them on eBay," says Klaus.

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.