Sometimes in life you have to roll up your sleeves, adjust your cap and do something on your own. In this case, I had to visit a bar without the aid of my lady-love, brother or an acquaintance. Not a difficult task by any means but one that I don’t plan on very often. Unfortunately […]
Sometimes in life you have to roll up your sleeves, adjust your cap and do something on your own. In this case, I had to visit a bar without the aid of my lady-love, brother or an acquaintance. Not a difficult task by any means but one that I don’t plan on very often. Unfortunately my half-Polish girlfriend was off gallivanting around the Empire City at the time, so it was just me me, the mostly German, some Polish, probably a little Czech and a dab of (insert European ethnicity) heading off into the night to see what the Polish have to offer my liver.
Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall (1920 S. 37th St. – formerly Art’s Concertina Bar) is your normal, on the corner, friendly bar. But, not every Wisconsin neighborhood bar has a list of perks that Kochanski’s offers.
First, they have areas only Bonzini foosball table. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Big deal, Mark. I don’t like foosball,” or, “What’s a Bonzini?” or, “Who…cares!” Well, I love it! It reminds me of a simpler time when I was repeatedly late to my Media Law class due to the “Gotta Win by 1” rule. So if you love the game or you’re new to the sport, the Bonzini table (it’s French-made table) is a high quality tool to enhance your abilities. But, no spinning! I will force upon you ice-cold eye lasers if you spin!
Next on the perks list is the variety of live music available. Of course, there are polka bands that travel to the stage quite often. But the concertina also furnishes blues, surf, bluegrass and rockabilly bands as well. The latter genre has been such a buttress in the Kochanski music scene that a book of collected photos and musings about the musical variety and its home at the bar was published and is available for purchase, it’s called “The Return of Rockabilly.” At the time of my visit, I had the pleasure of listening and sharing in the fine art of polka. The band consisted of two older gentleman (pros of the polka circuit, I’m sure), two dudes in their 40s and a youngster who suddenly appeared onstage with a saxophone (spirit of Clarence Clemens?). They were great! And let’s both note and agree that the accordion is one of the coolest/craziest instruments ever created.
Another on the list of perks is the beer selection. They have all the standard beers available, blah blah blah, but more importantly they have Polish beers in bottles and on tap. The bottles are not 12 ounces, no, they honestly felt more like 64 ounces, each one brimming with high amounts of alcohol. Being the light beer adversary that I am, the Poles definitely appreciate a flavorful beer. Tatra, is a full-bodied pale lager that was very easy to drink; Zywiec is a medium-bodied pilsner; Kopernik is also a pilsner that smells like malt syrup with a hint of hops without the bitterness. After a short inter-web search, I have yet to discover another establishment to offer these brewskis.
Lastly, and the highest quality of perks, is the sociability and courtesy of the bar owner, Andy Kochanski. He was behind the bar the night I visited Kochanski’s. He buoyantly shared his knowledge of Polish beers and graciously chose each flavor for me that night. After some initial chitchat he deduced that I had an ulterior motive and wasn’t there by myself, with pen and paper and a camera to take selfies and jot down haikus.
After my cover was blown, he welcomed me and continued taking care of his customers. He’d check on me every now and again as he did the others at the bar giving me no preferential treatment as part of the (GASP) press! I spent my time pre-polka catching up on the campiness of old B-movies Andy had playing on the TV above the bar. One of the great things I noticed about Andy is that he either knew every single person in that bar on a personal level, or, he’s just a great bar tender/owner that knows how to take care of his people. Either way, he’s doing it right.
I do want to give an honorable mention perk to the still under construction patio. When finished, it is going to be a sight. By my rough calculations, it’s about the size of the Mayfair Mall parking lot. Kochanski is going to have raised flower gardens, plenty of seating and horseshoe pits for the active drinkers. Pound a couple beers and throw a horses shoe toward your friends and count how many shins get popped; I’ve seen it too many times. But gee wiz, what a fun game!
Although I ventured out that Friday night on a solo mission, I had a great time interacting with owner Andy Kochanski, the accordion players’ wife (sorry, I forgot your name) and the official upholsterer for the bar stools, Air Force veteran and storyteller, Bill. It was the first time at a new bar where nearly every single person felt like an acquaintance. Being on your own isn’t so bad at all. I think I may have to tell my girlfriend to stay home for the next review.
New Year’s Eve Note
Miller Lite, in partnership with Beer Capitol, Milwaukee County Transit System and Waukesha Metro Transit, will offer its signature free bus service on New Year’s Eve. On Saturday, December 31, buses will be running nearly 30 MCTS routes serving Milwaukee County and 10 Metro routes serving Waukesha County. The Milwaukee routes will run from 8 p.m. – 4 a.m. and the Waukesha routes will run from 7 p.m. – 3:30 a.m.
For more information and to plan your New Year’s Eve transport, call 1-800-FREE-RIDES (1-800-373-3743), text “FREERIDES” to 90464 or visit MillerLiteFreeRides.com.
Have a wonderful evening and please, travel smart and safe.