Friday afternoon, Matt and I rushed home to meet my parents for a ride to the airport. We got there with plenty of time to stop at the bar before our flight left. When going to Wisconsin, this is important.
It’s only an hour-long flight there, but we decided to do it that way for speed, and because it would push me over into the free-ticket zone on Delta. WIN.
Wendy and Amelia picked us up at the airport (they had driven, and left earlier in the day), and we all went to the hotel to check into the Hyatt Regency. Because I’m a member of their frequent-visitors club, they put us up on the superspecial top level. (There didn’t seem to be anything different about it, it was just the penthouse. Still!)
The Hyatt was awesome. It was newly renovated, with an open lounge area in the courtyard. You could see down into the courtyard from every level, and the glass elevators facilitated keeping an eye on ones friends.
The four of us headed to AJ Bombers for dinner. We’d read about it in some Foursquare nerd story, and liked that you got free stuff for checking in. They delivered peanuts to your table via a bomb and a chute!!
After dinner, we bar-hopped our way around the area. Our other friends weren’t due to arrive in Milwaukee til 11, so we had plenty of time to kill. We first stopped at an Irish bar named McCarthy’s that smelled like pee, and then went over to a place we thought would be super-amusing, only it was full of douchebags. Backpedaling, we stepped into the place next door, called BarNone. That, it turned out, would be the right choice.
The bartender was fantastic. She lined us up with dollar shots and cocktails, then sat around playing the naked lady matching game with us (almost climbing over the bar to get to it). We all fell in crush with her immediately, because she was awesome.
Round about 11, we hailed a cab and headed toward Bryant’s, on the south side of town. It’s a fancy cocktail bar that Nick from Town Talk helped develop the menu for, so we wanted to check it out. It was definitely swank in a really oldschool way. (The bartenders weren’t what one would consider super-awesome, but they were polite. Also, the lack of menu seemed offputting to some people, but Matt and I loved it.) Within a half hour, Missy, Joe, Meg, and Chris arrived, and the party began.
I don’t remember what time we left… probably between 1 and 2am. We called for a couple of cabs, and Wendy and I did snow angels on the median while we awaited ours. Once everyone was back at the hotel, Matt, Meg, and Chris wanted food, so we crossed the street to George Webb. Which turned out to be an extremely bad decision.
We ordered water and coffees, and put in our food order (I wasn’t hungry, but I ordered wheat toast just to have something). They took our payment right away. 45 minutes later, our glasses long empty, there was no food to be seen. Not even the wheat toast. The place was disastrously full of drunk people (as one would obviously expect), but the only people seemed to get their food delivered were those coming in for carryout orders. Finally, we tracked down an employee and asked what was going on our food. They gave us the runaround, so we demanded our money back. They refused to give it back, so we ran out yelling about how George Webb stole our money. It was pretty hilarious. My god, that place is horrific.
The next morning, Matt, Meg, Chris and I got to have breakfast for real at Buck Bradley’s (home of the longest bar east of the Mississippi!), and it was way more satisfying. The rest of the group met up with us as we finished, and we headed northwards, stopping at places like the original Penzey’s, Usinger’s sausage factory, and to discover a castle you could drink in. Not to mention cheese happy hour!! We made a note to return for those things later.
For the end of February, it was surprisingly nice outside. We decided to walk to Lakefront Brewery, even though it involved this long bridge and scary staircase:
We got to Lakefront around 1, and got tickets for the next tour. The tickets came with drink tokens, so of course we all fought our way to the bar (that place was crowded), and prepared for the brewery tour in the best way possible.
The tour was fantastic. Our guide was hilarious, and made sure we all had beers at the beginning of the tour. Halfway through, we stopped for more beers. The employee there had gone missing, so Wendy got recruited as a bartender.
After that, we got to do things like shout “bunghole” and “bungwhacker”, then reenact Laverne and Shirley’s glove scene while singing the theme song. It was great.
Post-tour, we finished our last beers (there were about 40 of them), went to the store so Joe could buy a beer monkey, and then hopped a couple cabs back into town. We went to Bar Louie for lunch, because Lakefront had also given us all coupons for free beers at one of many bars in town. Um, when you visit Milwaukee, you should probably do the Lakefront Tour. That’s the best $6 you’ll ever spend. You get a free pint glass, too!
Post-lunch and many more beers, we all stopped back at the hotel to drop stuff off and recombobulate. A couple people took naps while the rest of us met in Missy and Joe’s room. Joe had requested we bring the tongs from our ice bucket, because he’d invented a new game. Called ‘tong’, of course.
After a few rounds of tong, we went downstairs to hang out in the lounge and get everyone together again. We’d all become acquainted with a 14-year-old kid who was riding around in the elevator, sitting on the floor and texting. He’d introduced himself to all of us as the elevator hobo. When Meg saw him wandering around in the lobby, she invited him to hang out with us. The kid could not have been more thrilled about that. He even showed us all the sketches he’d been drawing of cars.
We’d been going over and over our to-do list for the evening, and it was impressive: cheese happy hour, drinking in a castle, going to the Hofbrauhaus, and ending up at the Safe House. Also, some of us wanted to go back to BarNone, because it was awesome. We knew, though, that we couldn’t manage all of that, so cheese happy hour had to go. We headed to the castle instead.
The castle (i.e. Knight’s Bar) was not that great on the inside. A server never really materialized, so we had to go to the bar and all cram into a tiny table together. Bally didn’t seem to mind, though.
We stayed long enough for a round, then headed over to the Hofbrau House at Meg’s request. It was no genuine Bavarian beer garden, but what do you expect in Milwaukee? They had beer and ridiculous shots (including a set of five attached to a ski, that required doing in unison). We were very happy there.
Once Wendy and Amelia arrived, it was time for the Safe House!
If you haven’t been to the Safe House, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. But basically, it’s a spy-themed bar with a secret entrance in an alley. You have to whisper the password to the door(wo)man, and if you don’t know it, they send your friends inside and you have to do a dance or something before they’ll let you in. The bar can also watch you doing said dance on closed-circuit TV. Meg was game for that, so she moonwalked while we all watched. So funny.
The Safe House also lets you keep the glassware for most of their signature cocktails. Therefore, this happens:
There were giant multiperson drinks, jello shots, regular shots, beer in a jar, and dancing. They played the Cupid Shuffle twice. Even Chris danced, which never happens!
We took turns exploring the Safe House, too. Matt and I visited the sound effects phone, buttcam, the secret phonebooth exit, and we even wandered through the part of the restaurant that disappears in the evening. It has windows looking out on the street! Shocking!
Missy, Joe, and Amelia headed back to the hotel after a while. Our server put all our glassware in a big cardboard box, and we headed off to BarNone, toting the clinking box. When we got there, we stashed it in a cubbyhole and got to drinking. Because, you know, that was an awesome idea after the Safe House.
Bally loved BarNone, too!
Chris and Meg left, and Wendy and Matt and I straggled back later on, still carrying the glassware. It made it back to the hotel (and Minneapolis, in fact!) in one piece. That’s pretty amazing.
You should ask Wendy about the hallway pizza sometime. That’s her story to tell.
The next morning, Matt and I waited til the last minute to check out, left our bags at the front desk, and headed off on another long walk. Everybody else had already left for the long drive home.
We walked up the hill past the giant bridge to Lakefront Brewery, and ended up at a place called the HiHat Lounge for brunch. Our plan was to check out the area (there was cute shopping and many awesome bars on Brady street), and watch as much of the Olympic gold medal hockey game as possible before we had to leave for our flight. So post-brunch, we stopped to shop at a cute antique store, then headed all the way down to Zaffiros, a pizza place that was highly recommended by my parents. We weren’t hungry, but we figured it would be an awesome dive. And it was.
We had a couple of beers and watched the first period of the USA-Canada game with a couple of the bar’s regulars. As that was ending, we paid up and headed back down Brady, in the direction of downtown. We figured we would work our way back to the hotel while watching the game at various locales.
Our next stop was the Up & Under Pub, across the street from the Nomad. It was very similar to the Nomad, too, and struck me as a soccer bar even if it technically wasn’t. There were a bunch of people there watching the game, all at a pretty impressive level of drunkenness for so early in the day. The bar also was home to two giant dogs, who demanded a petting every time they passed us.
After the second, we hurried the mile or so down the hill into downtown. We figured we’d stop at AJ Bombers for the end of the game, because we knew they’d have sports on there. But as we neared the door, we noticed the place was absolutely packed. Matt said, with a fair amount of horror in his voice, “people are wearing name badges with their Twitter usernames on them!” Yep, we’d wandered into a tweetup.
We stopped in anyway to use the bathroom, and checked in on Foursquare to get the Swarm badge. It turns out that’s what the tweetup was about: they thought they were unlocking the first Swarm badge in the Midwest. Which wasn’t true; I’d seen in a couple of times in Minneapolis before that. But anyway… there was no way we were hanging around there. We left and walked over to our new favorite bar in Milwaukee (well, after the Safe House): BarNone.
We found our favorite bartender behind the bar (she’s part-owner), and everybody watching the game. A couple showed up and got out Drinking Candyland, which is apparently a regular occurrence there. They explained the rules, and we laughed about the tweetup. It seemed like everyone there knew about Foursquare, which is really funny. I remember when maybe 20 of us in Minneapolis were the only people on Dodgeball. Oldschool!
Of course the game went into overtime, and Matt and I started to worry about making our flight. Crosby at least had the sense to end it on time, so we said our goodbyes at BarNone and walked back to the hotel for our bags. We hopped a cab to the airport, and were back to Minneapolis in no time.