Why You Should Check Out This East Side Speakeasy

If you can find it, that is…

Looking for a place to grab a cocktail before or after catching a flick at the Oriental Theatre? At the East Side’s secret speakeasy, Shanghai MKE, there’s a bartender mixing up unique and custom drinks … if you can find her, that is.

Kat Doughty, lead bartender and conjurer of spirits (pun fully intended) at Shanghai MKE, has been working at the bar for three years, joining just a few months after it opened in 2019. She loves to get creative crafting custom drinks, so if you’re feeling adventurous, you can put your fate in her hands with dealer’s choice. “You just tell us what you’re in the mood for, what you like, what you don’t like, and we create a flavor profile with that,” Doughty says. 


 

 

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If you’re not one for mystery, there is a fabulous drink list with lots of hand-crafted concoctions to choose from. Doughty likes to play with seasonal ingredients when curating the menu, so it’s frequently refreshed and full of surprises – including the new rotating seasonal Delta-8- and CBD-infused cocktails. Some Shanghai staples she recommends are the Shanghai Fog, a beautiful, dainty riff on a London Fog, or the All Eyes on Me, which channels a pineapple upside-down cake. 

To find Shanghai MKE, stroll through the colorful murals in Black Cat Alley. Ring the buzzer and the host will let you through the locked gate. Despite the secret entrance, the real challenge isn’t finding the place – it’s deciding what drink to have Doughty create for you. 


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s July Issue.

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Brianna Schubert is the Associate Digital Editor at Milwaukee Magazine.