It’s that time of year again. The time when the masses turn to Twitter and Facebook to vent their frustrations with the Packers’ lackluster performance, and in the same thought include a countdown to opening day for the Brewers.
Yes, there’s just two months until the smell of bratwursts and beer fill the air near Miller Park. Keeping with the theme of opening day, it’s only fitting to take a look at one of the newest bars in the Story Hill neighborhood, J&B’s Blue Ribbon Bar and Grill (5230 W. Bluemound Rd).
Since opening nearly one year ago in the former Long Wong’s space, I’ve visited J&B’s three times and have experienced nothing but a good time.
If you’re looking for trendy décor or plush tables and chairs, J&B’s isn’t the place for you. From the vinyl swivel bar stools, arcade games to the wall feature made from dozens of PBR cans, it’s exactly what a local bar and grill should be – simple and homey.
I’d be extremely upset if a bar that’s named after Pabst Blue Ribbon had a less-than-appealing beer menu. J&B’s tap selection includes Pabst, New Belgium 1554, Lakefront Fixed Gear, Riverwest Stein, Spotted Cow, Guinness and Miller Lite. In bottles and cans – that’s right I said cans – you’ll find a huge variety. Everything from the standard PBR, Budweiser and Strongbow, to Wisconsin’s own Hinterland Luna Coffee Stout, Furthermore’s Fatty Boombalatty and Milwaukee Brewing’s Louie’s Demise.
During my first visit, my friend and I sat at one of high top tables around the perimeter of the dining room. As it was a few hours before the first pitch, I was expecting to wait for a while to place my order, but was pleasantly surprised when a bartender made his way over within minutes of my arrival. After a long day of work I had two things on my mind: cocktail and food. I eventually decided on a Bloody Mary and grilled cheese, or what I call the adult’s equivalent to the classic tomato soup and grilled cheese combo.
The Bloody, which came with a chaser of the light variety, was a solid contender in my book. It was the perfect consistency; not too thin, and not too thick. The garnishment was simple, but I’d prefer that versus being forced to pay $2 more for jerky, cheese cubes, shrimp and the like at some of the area establishments. It was fairly spicy, so I only could finish one before switching to a domestic tap ($3).
A month later I found my way back to J&B’s, again prior to a Brewers game. My friend extended a last-minute invitation to a game and said he’d meet me at the entrance. I surely wasn’t going to pay for stadium parking by myself, so I did what any logical 26-year-old female would do… drink at the bar and hitch a ride on the shuttle. While on the topic of parking, I’d say the one downfall of J&B’s is the lack of off-street parking. Unless you’re lucky and find a spot on Bluemound or one of the side streets, prepare to park on Wisconsin during home games.
Once I parked and trotted down the house-lined street, I entered and searched for a place I could nuzzle my way in and order a beer. I’d like to call it fate as there was one lonely seat at the bar calling my name. One of the three bartenders behind the oval-shaped bar approached as I sat down. I ordered a PBR, to which he questioned if I wanted a regular or tall boy. It was as if he could sense my worry of not being able to finish the tall boy before the shuttle arrived when he smiled said “you can take it for the ride if you don’t finish in time.” Tall boy it was!
The shuttle came and I quickly ordered another for the road (it was a long five-minute ride after all). My investment including tips ended up being the same as the cost of parking at the stadium. Unless you’re tailgating, I couldn’t find a reason why’d you pay for parking when you can get door-to-door service from J&B’s.
My most recent visit brought me to J&B’s one Wednesday shortly after 6 p.m. When I walked in my friend was already at the bar with a pint of Spotted Cow ($3 during happy hour), and unlike my previous visits during the baseball season, the place was nearly empty. I was feeling rather indecisive, so I asked the bartender for a few mixed drink suggestions. She quickly came back with a flavored vodka press. Presented in a pint glass, the drink made from Smirnoff Raspberry, club soda and Diet 7Up, was a steal of a deal at $5.50.
Being a school night and all, I decided my next drink would be a less-potent beer. Two large signs around the bar informed me Wednesday was “Can Night,” meaning $1 off all cans. I’ll admit that math wasn’t my strongest subject in school, so I greatly appreciated the bartender helping me calculate how I’d get a bigger bang for my buck by choosing the 16 ounce PBR ($2 during ‘Can Night’) versus the tap version ($2 during happy hour).
A “Buck Off” happy hour from 3 – 7 p.m. during the week is just the tip of J&B’s specials. In addition to “Can Night,” the bar also offers daily specials like $9 craft and import pitchers on Tuesday, $6 domestic pitchers on Thursday and $4 Bloody Marys on Sunday.
To learn about all of J&B’s specials and events, visit JBBlueRibbon.com.