In their original form, taverns, saloons and what now just fall under the umbrella of “bars,” served as meeting places, or places to conduct business, but also as refuge – from the outside world, tyrannical circumstances or any unpleasantness out there. As we approach the holiday season, we also approach ghastly meteorological conditions. But there are always twinkling lights somewhere on the other side of the wind and the snow. These bars encourage and nourish our holiday spirit, lest we forget, ‘tis not the season to succumb to the physical torments of wintertime.
This bar will inevitably turn your “Bah, humbug!” into “Bro, let’s hug!” There’s enough cozy cheer here to get you deep into the holiday spirit, so it might be best to take a cab.
Address: 2599 S Logan Ave., Bay View
Hours: M-F 3 p.m.-2 a.m., Sa 12 p.m.-2:30 a.m., Su 12 p.m.-2 a.m.
The holidays are about coming together to celebrate, and this cooperative pub in Riverwest embodies that spirit like no other. They host all sorts of engaging events like live music on the weekend, LGBTuesdays, Trivia Night, Night School, Educators’ Happy Hour and Theology on Tap.
Address: 815 E Locust St., Riverwest
Hours: M-Th 3 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri-Sat 3 p.m.-2:30 a.m., Su 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
When the wind is whipping and your toes are going numb, it just seems natural to seek out a fireplace in a log cabin. Camp Bar now has locations in the Third Ward and Wauwatosa, but you can’t go wrong with the original. Sit in the back next to the fire with the giant moose head to temporarily escape the crippling grasp of Old Man Winter.
Address: 4044 N Oakland Ave., Shorewood
Hours: M-Th 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Fr 3 p.m.-2:30 a.m., Sa 12 p.m.-2:30 a.m., Su 12 p.m.-2 a.m.
[Editor’s note: Boone & Crockett has since moved to a larger location] Christmas tree: check. Abundance of taxidermy: check. Old-timey woodsy vibe: absolutely. This bar in Bay View transports you to a simpler time, when mere survival was the goal and holiday bonuses weren’t exactly a source of anxiety. They also serve barrel-aged cocktails, so bring some extra shillings.
Address: 818 S. Water St., Bay View
Hours: M-Th 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m., Sa 12 p.m.-2:30 a.m., Su 12 p.m.-2 a.m.
Milwaukee’s first lounge (open since 1938) is a dark, swanky option for the holiday drinker, with first-rate cocktails. An exotic fish tank next to a miniature Christmas tree on the back bar properly represent the mood this bar evokes: reminiscent curiosity. And are the walls really velvet?
Address: 1579 S 9th St., Bay View
Hours: T-Su 5 p.m.-2 a.m., closed Mondays
Sometimes a bar’s merit is measured by what it can afford to leave out. You won’t find skee-ball or billiards here, so bring someone you actually want to converse with. And bring your bifocals while you’re at it, because the beer/drink menu is in binder form.
Address: 2989 S Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View
Hours: M-Th 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri-Sat 5 p.m.-2:30 a.m., Su 7 p.m.-2 a.m.
This subterranean bar is like going to your friend’s house in high school who had the finished basement with every cool toy. You can sit by the fireplace with a cold one, fiddle with the jukebox and throw some darts, all from the comfort of
your friend’s basement this neighborhood bar.
Address: 1228 N Astor St., Lower East Side
Hours: Su-Th 4 p.m.-2 a.m., Fri-Sat 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m.