Sabbatic

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…

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.

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Sabbatic

Walker’s Point is saturated with places to grab a drink, and there’s an establishment for every man, woman and those in between. Fat Daddy’s (120 W. National) appeals to competitive drinkers with outdoor volleyball. Montage (801 S. Second) offers drag shows to those with a sequin fetish, and Envy (715 S. Fifth) is going for that posh club angle. Offering free shuttle rides to the Feb. 25 Dropkick Murphys concert and a combat boot imprint logo, Sabbatic (700 S. Second) is a self-proclaimed punk rock bar and fairly new to the circuit. I thought their vision to be a bit…

Walker’s Point is saturated with places to grab a drink, and there’s an establishment for every man, woman and those in between. Fat Daddy’s (120 W. National) appeals to competitive drinkers with outdoor volleyball. Montage (801 S. Second) offers drag shows to those with a sequin fetish, and Envy (715 S. Fifth) is going for that posh club angle.

Offering free shuttle rides to the Feb. 25 Dropkick Murphys concert and a combat boot imprint logo, Sabbatic (700 S. Second) is a self-proclaimed punk rock bar and fairly new to the circuit. I thought their vision to be a bit off. We were greeted by bartenders sporting full beards and textbook Kurt Cobain flannels. The worn wood and unkempt appearance evoked more of a grunge feel. I half expected to find Courtney Love in the ladies room ripping lines off the toilet seat. Of course I was thrown for a loop when a member of the staff set out fancy floating tea lights. One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.

Besides trying to make a theme out of a music genre, Sabbatic defines the phrase “run of the mill” when it comes to corner bars. There’s your pool table, a “Brothel” this way sign and a shelf above the bar holding various prized knickknacks, including a vintage jug of gin and what I can only assume is some type of unborn mammal swimming in formaldehyde. 

I ordered my Red Bull and vodka, with a side of apprehension, and cursed myself for leaving the house without my hand sanitizer. Two things happened at this point that caused to me forever embrace Sabbatic, regardless of its disheveled appearance and frowzy facial hair. It was happy hour, and it was done right. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, Sabbatic practically gives the bar away with a 2-for-1 special on everything. Let me repeat that, 2 for 1 on EVERYTHING. While forgoing any fine print and ridiculous stipulations is a feat in and of itself, it was the upside down shot glass reserving a spot for my freebie that had me twitter pated. Too often I find myself at a buy one get one where the bartender takes the easy route and serves both cocktails at once. I enjoy one while the other taunts me with its melting ice and impending undrinkability. This one is for you my fallen soldiers.

It seems, however, that I didn’t get the full Sabbatic experience because there were whispers of something called “wizard sticks,” and I now see pictures on their Facebook page of a bartender handling a super soaker. Happy hour got the best of me before I could ask sufficient questions surrounding those particulars, so I’ll let them remain a mystery, a bit of enticement for those seeking an adventure. If that doesn’t lure you, it’s also rumored that they let girls participate in a little bar top dancing. This I will neither confirm nor deny.

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