Nearly a year ago, we traveled back east to Milwaukee for the wedding of some great friends who live out there. I am reminiscing about our trip now because we have recently been working tirelessly to figure out what to do with some pumpkin whiskey we brought back with us (more on this later). While I love this city and our great friends from there, I could never actually live in Milwaukee (or the entire Midwest - North East for that matter) because I am allergic to the amount of snow they get, but it is a fantastic place to visit when it is not subzero. They have great restaurants, a crazy bar scene, and sports galore - NBA, MLB, and even a mediocre NFL football team (Aaron who?).
Of course, they have all the stereotypical brats-and-beer-pub type places you would expect along with the culture that goes with all that, but there is another sophisticated side to the city that I never really expected. Milwaukee even has a whole hipster side to it – a surprise to me as I would have thought the brat eating, beer chugging, sports crazy ruffians never would have allowed that to happen. Apparently, no place is safe from the hipster invasion.
Maybe this is not such a bad thing though, since one of my favorite places there is The Comet Café and it is an absolute hipster paradise. If I ever were to open a restaurant, I would do my best to just replicate what these guys have done. In no particular order, here are just a few things that make this place awesome – they put bacon in the Bloody Mary’s, they also serve these with a tiny little can of Miller’s High Life (aka The Champagne of Beers), and their take on poutine is duck fat fries soaked in duck gravy. Seriously, I would live at this restaurant if I possible, at least for 12 hours of my day.
The other 12 hours? I would spend that time at Paddy’s Pub, possibly the most Irish pub in the world, including Ireland. It is run by a husband and wife team who have clearly made their life’s dream come true by opening this place.
There are multiple levels, an outdoor patio, decorated bathrooms, and just a crazy abundance of Irish themed décor as you can see in this picture I took of the ceiling in the upstairs bar. Not to mention, they have a top notch selection of scotch and whiskey to die for. One word – Middleton.
While Middleton is my all time favorite, Milwaukee actually has it’s own distillery that crafts some award winning spirits themselves, The Great Lakes Distillery. Not just great whiskey, but vodka and even a gin that I really liked (that’s saying a lot because I hate gin). Being the best hosts in the world, our friends set us up a tour while I was out there for the bachelor party and I was able to ship some goods home, including the odd little pumpkin whiskey pictured above that pairs well with ginger beer.
As I am writing this, I realize there is a theme here – no surprise Wisconsin is the DUI capital of the world. They probably have the highest “great booze places to capita” in the country. Aside from the ones already mentioned, add in Sprechers Brewery (best beer ever), Bartolotta’s (best steak ever), Ouzo Café (open till 3am), Stubby’s (packed at 1pm on a Friday with patrons already doing shots), Mona’s (this one is a surprise)….and countless others, Milwaukee is an absolutely fun place to be. Unless it is snowing – then it is just miserable. Which is why my next trip out there will not be until summer, for the Summerfest music festival, fingers crossed.