I wanted to try someplace new. I craved a change of pace from the typical Water Street scene. I needed to…stir things up.
Sitting smack in the middle of downtown is Stir (112 W. Wisconsin Ave.). I’ve jogged past this sophisticated bar lounge countless times and taxied past it on numerous journeys to the familiar hustle and bustle of Brothers, McGillicuddy’s and Bar Louie. Not once did I notice the tinted windows or the discrete-yet-classy sign, which is somewhat masked by its neighbor’s bright theater lights.
Co-owners Jerome Walsh, 29, and Daniel Helding, 28, opened Stir on May 18, 2007. The longtime friends designed and built the bar themselves. Literally. Walsh said he built the bar in his garage.
The upscale décor, with plush couches, pillows and sleek tables does not suggest a garage-inspired shop project. Rather, it is an inviting atmosphere to regular customers and first-timers alike. Two areas can be roped off to create VIP rooms for private parties, but on a normal night the bar can comfortably fit between 50-75 people. With cooperating weather, people can also enjoy their cocktails outside on the two-level, heated patio on Milwaukee’s river walk.
Kevin Pelkey, the one and only employed bartender, says the most popular specialty cocktails are “Flirt” and “Desire.” Flirt ($8) is a designer cocktail made of pineapple rum, orange liquor, strawberry schnapps, champagne and pineapple juice. Desire ($8) is comprised of raspberry vodka, orange liquor, lemon juice, cranberry juice and raspberry preserve.
Pelkey, Walsch and Helding joke with their regular customers and introduce themselves to newcomers. The diverse crowd is friendly and engaging. Stir is ideal both for a date night and for a night out with friends. You will definetely meet people here.
Fridays right now are Ladies Nights, but Walsh says that a new theme, called Flavor Fridays will begin Nov. 9. They will feature a different flavor each Friday such as lemon, vanilla or chocolate. The scented candles, floral arrangements and, most importantly, designer cocktails will be themed with the particular flavor. Sundays feature a bloody mary bar ($5) and blood orange mimosas ($5).
Happy Hour is Tuesdays through Fridays, 4-8 p.m. You can enjoy $5 specialty cocktails, wines and Hendrix Gin mixers. $2 off all scotch and cigars is an added bonus.
According to Walsh, Stir hosts a lot of private parties, which can be reserved by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Guests can rent part or all of the bar and choose bottle service, catering or other options. Themes vary, but a recent event was a masquerade party.
Its sleek design paired with the friendly and personable staff makes this bar one of Milwaukee’s hidden treasures, soon to cause quite the stir. For more information call, 414-727-8646 or visit stirmilwaukee.com.