You may ask what Milwaukee and cargo shorts have in common. Cargo shorts (aside from being the bane of the fashion world’s existence) are brimming with pockets, each possessing the ability to hold something none of the others do. Milwaukee may be one entity, but the pockets that are a part of it—all of its many neighborhoods—each add to the city in their own unique way.
But we all know pants with many pockets are sure to have a hidden pocket or two. Or perhaps you’ve put something amazing or valuable in a pocket, only to find it later and kick yourself for forgetting about it in the first place. (Hello, five-dollar bill.) The neighborhood of Walker’s Point is kind of like one of those hidden pockets, filled with a number of great corner bars ready and waiting for you to mosey on in.
Marked by nothing more than a sign with a capitol S in the style of the tread on the sole of Doc Marten’s shoes, Sabbatic sits on the corner of S. 2nd Street and W. Pierce Street, just one block away from a multitude of traffic—and potential customers. If you’re lucky, you’ll walk in and owner Jay Stamates will be behind the bar.
Not just a veteran of the armed forces, Stamates has carved out his place in the nightlife scene, too. Currently, he has his hand in not only Sabbatic, but also The Standard (Bay View) and the River Horse West (West Bend). And if there’s one thing he knows, it’s how to work the bar.
Stamates is inviting and charming, a smooth conversationalist. Easily the most informative chat I’ve ever had with a bartender, I learned about the building’s history as a brothel, U.S. army bases and their schools, the GDP and how to reduce the United State’s debt and some tricks of the trade for bartending. And somehow I ended up paying for and throwing back two Cherry Cheesecake shots, which was two more shots than I intended on having that night.
Correctly pegging my shot preference as “girly,” I was even happier to find out that the purchasing of said shots coincided with a deal Stamates started where for 16 minutes, from 7:00 p.m. to 7:16 p.m., everything is $0.99. Inspired, you could say, by The Nomad World Pub’s 15-minute Happy Hour deal from 4:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. where almost everything is $1.00, now would be a good time to introduce the fact that Stamates is full of spunk and sass, and he’s not afraid to talk about it.
Color him controversial (or knee-slappingly hilarious), it is his personality that lights up this otherwise dimly light, no frills corner bar. Do they have great beers on tap? Sure do! Do they have a full bar? Of course. And if their bartenders are under Stamates’ guidance, they certainly are well versed in how to own your space and keep patrons smiling with full glasses and dry drink napkins.
I’d go back if only to hear Stamates tell more stories.