Drinking Destinations: 10 Best Bars in Milwaukee

Milwaukee just wouldn’t be Milwaukee without its ever-booming bar scene. From the classics to the up-and-comers, we’ve gathered ten of the city’s best watering holes for your next night out.

Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge
Described by Esquire magazine as “maybe the darkest bar in America,� Bryant’s shines pretty bright in the world of craft cocktails. This 1938-vintage cocktail lounge on Milwaukee’s south side is keeping retro in style. Velvet walls, an original 1971 McIntosh Hi-Fi sound system and quintessential drinks make this bar a blast from the past and a true gem today.

Foundation Bar
Another bar serving up high quality craft cocktails since long before they became trendy is the Riverwest staple, Foundation. This tropical tiki destination hits the nail on the head from the décor to the music to, of course, the drinks. Foundation features nearly 90 varieties of rum, a menu of more than 30 exotic cocktails, plus seasonal specialties that rotate throughout the year. Escape the chaos of the city while you cozy up to a tropical refreshment.

Sugar Maple
If beer is your libation of choice, Bay View’s Sugar Maple is a must-visit. This bar features 60 draft beers, all of them American small-craft and microbrews, primarily from Wisconsin or nearby states like Michigan and Illinois. The 60-foot bar top brings life to the bar with its organic curved shape. That, coupled with the lack of televisions, makes for a community-oriented space that invites conversation. Sure to wow any craft beer-lover, the Sugar Maple is a perfect place to relax, chat and enjoy a well-made brew.

Stubby’s Gastropub & Beer Bar
Another spot with an impressive draft list is Stubby’s, boasting 53 different beers on tap in addition to a full bar and kitchen. The beer list would wow even the biggest beer geek, but the quality doesn’t stop there. With an extensive menu for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Stubby’s serves up delicious food all week long. The patio overlooking the river is just a bonus!

Good City Brewing Company
A list of Milwaukee’s best bars wouldn’t be complete without mention of a brewery! Good City Brewing Company brought its brews to the east side in June of 2016 and quickly flourished. By April of 2017, the brewery had reached a deal to begin distributing in Madison, and by July their space expanded to include a private event space, a second prep kitchen, a canning line, four new fermenters and a rooftop patio. Take in the views from the roof and taste just why Good City is growing so fast.

The Outsider
Another newbie that deserves the attention: The Outsider at The Kimpton Journeyman Hotel. This spot takes rooftop bar to the next level with both indoor and outdoor seating, fire pits for cool nights, social games, comfortable seating and views that are hard to beat. The Outsider also opened in June of 2016, its menu boasting sharable small plates and a drink menu that caters to Milwaukeeans’ tastes.

Safe House
Tourist hot spot and literal hidden gem, the SafeHouse has been a local treasure since it opened in 1966. This spy-themed bar and restaurant is tucked away in a secret downtown location. Sip on drinks like “Spy’s Demise,� “The Great Spytini� and “Mission Impossible� while you explore the floor-to-ceiling décor filled with surprises around every corner. Whisper the secret password to get in – we’re not giving any hints!

There’s another legendary Milwaukee bar that’s not so secret. Bumper stickers all over the city have out-of-towners scratching their heads, but locals know just how much fun it is “closing Wolski’s.� This classic tavern has been serving up cheap drinks and bar games since 1908. Many come to enjoy the pool tables and steel-tipped dart boards. Others come to enjoy a few cold ones and the constant flow of free popcorn. Time seems to stand still inside Wolski’s, then suddenly it’s closing time and all those stickers make perfect sense.

Bar 360
If you’re looking for unique, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s Bar 360 has it. Quite literally located in the center of all the action, this bar offers breathtaking lighting and a slightly elevated view of the entire gaming floor. With live music and drink specials throughout the week, Bar 360 has become a go-to watering hole for Milwaukee locals and visitors alike.

Last but certainly not least is another classic tavern that has helped revive the Walker’s Point neighborhood since it opened in 1985. Steny’s is a family-run tavern with a full food menu served seven days a week, an extensive craft beer selection and an award-winning Bloody Mary recipe. It’s also a perfect place to watch a sports game (or catch a shuttle to one), play shuffleboard, challenge your trivia skills or grab a growler to go. Their slogan is “You should be here!� and they aren’t lying!