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In Bars & Clubs

The Brandtjen's basement bar is called "Vintage."

In Bars & Clubs

A corner of Mary Eggert and Tom Rekoske's tiki-themed basement space.

In Bars & Clubs

A snapshot of Jim and Lisa Dutcher's "Dutch's Lost Hideaway."

In Bars & Clubs

The Dutchers own Tip Top Atomic Shop, so they have a line on cool stuff for their tiki bar.

The new underground: Basement bars provide top-notch fun

(page 2)

Like the Dutchers, the Oak Creek couple did most of the work themselves.

"I was really proud of Tom. He did so much of the work ," says Eggert. "And it inspired me to do things I never had done. It all turned out way better than expected."

Eggert and Rekoske lucked out when friends donated a grass-roofed tiki bar and bamboo stools. Most of the furniture and tchotchkes are from antique shops, rummage sales and Target.

"If we find an original tiki mask while rummaging it's like we've found the Holy Grail," says Eggert.

Rekoske bought a few tiki drink books and likes to let his guests pick their drink of choice from one of the printed recipes.

"We try to get down there every weekend," says Eggert.

In 1998, when Rick Brandtjen and his wife, Janel, built their house in Menomonee Falls, they included a bar and theater in their basement plans.

"The basement was built as a place to go out to without actually leaving the house," says Brandtjen. "We had a newborn when we built the house and knew it would be more difficult just to go out for a drink or a movie at the drop of the hat."

The Brandtjens designed the bar to reflect a "nice upscale establishment, with a vintage '40s feel."

They named the bar "Vintage" to reflect their love of wine, classic movies, jazz and vintage autographed memorabilia -- from Babe Ruth to jazz entertainer Fats Waller. The entire basement has an open floor plan and includes the bar (which seats eight people), theater and poker table. There is also a full bath and workout room.

"We're down in the basement at least four or five times a week, now as a family. Mainly to watch television and movies and sports events," says Brandtjen. "We have people over a few times a month for a couple of cocktails, Packers games or large parties. There's also a monthly poker game."

Brandtjen says they keep a well-stocked bar in their basement.

"Our primary focus is to know what our friends drink and have their favorites on hand at all times. I like to get people to try single malt scotches -- we usually have over 15 different available -- cognacs and bourbons," says Brandtjen.

"But the most popular is usually vodka, and everyone has their preference, so we keep quite a few different vodka brands on hand. And, of course, plenty of red wines -- mainly California cabs and blends."

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tufluv | Feb. 11, 2011 at 4:54 a.m. (report)

No wonder why the public bars are sooo darn DEAD, these days!! KUDOS, for a great idea/theme, and for "avoiding" drinking and driving too:)

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