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Nightlife in Milwaukee - Craft Brews, Raucous Sing-Alongs, and Classic Parlor Games

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Milwaukee's Midwestern heritage shines at night as storied hangouts light up with live music and thumping nightclub beats, and offer revelers a taste of local craft beers and cocktails. For an evening of kitschy tradition, you can take in some polka music then head downtown to pose with the "Bronze Fonz," a sculpture of Fonzie from the Milwaukee-based classic sitcom Happy Days.

Milwaukee’s bars


Milwaukee takes beer and cocktails seriously. Not only does each neighborhood throughout the city feature hotspots for getting the goods, but Milwaukee's servers are exceptionally well-educated in their craft. At Bryant's Cocktail Lounge, the city’s oldest bar, servers recite the menu from memory. Just give an idea of what you like to drink and the bartender will craft the perfect cocktail. For the widest craft beer selection in town, you can head to Sugar Maple in Bay View.


Bryant's Cocktail Lounge


Come for the velvet walls and premium sound system, but stay for the Old Fashioned Happy Hour that runs Tuesdays through Sundays starting at 5 PM. You’ll enjoy a selection of $5 cocktails.


1579 South 9th Street, Milwaukee 53204Tel: +1 414 383 2620


Bryant's Cocktail Lounge website


Sugar Maple


With 60 taps that feature a rotating selection of brews, Sugar Maple takes pride in serving and educating patrons on modern American craft beers.


441 East Lincoln Avenue, Milwaukee 53224. Tel: +1 414 481 2393


Sugar Maple website

Live music


Live entertainment is central to Milwaukee's nighttime scene. You'll find unforgettable performances in the city's smaller venues such as Lucille's Piano Bar & Grill, where pianists take requests all night, often culminating in raucous sing-alongs to go with the dinner and bar menu. At Fire on Water, local and traveling bands take the stage Wednesday through Saturday, and at Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall, dueling stages pitch Polish and German folk music against bluegrass, surf punk, or rockabilly.


Fire on Water


Voted best for live music by listeners of WISN radio, you’ll enjoy free pool tables, plenty of lounge seating, and a 120-inch projection screen.


518 North Water Street, Milwaukee 53202. Tel: +1 414 291 4411


Fire on Water website


Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall


Tap into the city's Polish and German heritage at this historic beer hall with a night of live polka.


1920 South 37th Street, Milwaukee 53215. Tel: +1 414 837 6552


Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall website


Evening games


Considering its proclivity for alcoholic drinks, it comes as no surprise that Milwaukee naturally cultivates sophisticated drinking games and activities. Walk into Evolution Gastro Pong on Old Third Street and you’ll find a bar-restaurant that’s also part table tennis tournament hall where you can rent tables in 30-minute increments. If you’re looking for a more classic pursuit, head to Holler House, the oldest certified bowling alley in the country. You can enjoy a variety of beers and partake in antique practices like keeping score by hand. Don’t forget to tip the human pinsetters.


Evolution Gastro Pong


You can come here to play table tennis, billiards, darts, and giant Jenga!. If you’re a group of 10 or more people, reservations are recommended.


1023 North Old World 3rd Street, Milwaukee 53203 . Tel: +1 414 831 7746


Evolution Gastro Pong website


Holler House


In addition to its world famous bowling set-up, this bar is known for its ceiling, which is festooned with women's brassieres. The bra-flinging tradition was started by bartender and owner, Marcy Skowronski, nearly 50 years ago.


2042 West Lincoln Avenue, Milwaukee 53215. Tel: +1 414 647 9284


Holler House website


Nightclubs in Milwaukee


Milwaukee doesn’t just groove to polka. You can join the Retro Dance Party at Mad Planet in East Side, a long-standing Friday night tradition that plays tunes from the ‘80s and ‘90s. For a night of Latin beats, head to Hot Water Wherehouse in Walker's Point, where Saturday evenings open with a free Latin dance lesson. LaCage NiteClub is the largest gay bar and entertainment complex in Wisconsin. Live DJs go to work Wednesday through Sunday and everyone is welcome.


Hot Water Wherehouse


Housing 2 dance clubs in 1 location - Hot Water and Wherehouse - you’ll shimmy to Latin dance music, including salsa and Argentine tango, rock, and electronica.


818 South Water Street, Milwaukee 53204. Tel: +1 414 383 7593


Hot Water Wherehouse website