Your picks for Milwaukee's best bars, 2010
Best bar for a first date: At Random
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Balzac
Low lights, smooth crooners, comfy booths and power-packed ice cream drinks made At Random the inaugural winner in this category. Apparently, many readers make their first date a secret rendezvous, too.
Best bar for a girls night out: Lucille's Rockin' Pianos
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Cuvee
The list of choices was lengthy, but Milwaukee's female population chimed in to elect Lucille's Rockin' Pianos as its favorite ladies' night locale. Many women love to sing and dance (especially in public) and with two Yamaha grand pianos pounding out rock tunes, you can really get groovin' at Lucille's. It's probably the only place on Milwaukee where you'll experience dueling pianos like this."It's totally different from any other place you have around here. There's a lot of DJ bars in Milwaukee and a lot of small stop bars," entertainment director Peter Hernet says.
Best happy hour: Duke's on Water
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Rascals
Everybody loves happy hour. Duke's, which is located at the corner of North Water Street and East Juneau Avenue, $1 specials every day of the week and it lasts until 9 p.m. The bar, formerly Mel's, features 15 tap beers and 31 bottles and also offers an array of nightly specials to keep the good times flowing.
Best hook-up bar: Victor's
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Buckhead
For three decades, Victor's has been a destination for a diverse group of eaters, drinkers, dancers and, apparently, lovers. Perhaps the accessible nooky is because of the dance floor which allows customers to easily interact. Who knows. In any case, if your pungent aftershave or pointy push-up bra isn't attracting that special one-night conquest, you might want to try Victor's.
Best Irish Bar: County Clare
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Paddy's Pub
With its immigrant heritage, it should come as no surprise that Milwaukee is home to a large number of Irish bars. There are many and each of them has its own subtle, unique qualities. In the end, though, OnMilwaukee.com readers made their choice decisively in picking County Clare. The traditional feel, enhanced with occasional live Celtic music, lets customers escape to the Emerald Isle, if only for a few hours for a pint of Guinness.
Best karaoke: Up & Under Pub
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Frank 'N Stein
Plenty of folks may consider "best karaoke" to be oxymoronic, but it's not going to go away any time soon. "American Idol" still draws big ratings and karaoke nights still bring big crowds to local bars. With free admission, the Up & Under Pub starts its karaoke night at about 9:30 on Wednesday and the fun runs until closing time. They offer $3 "oil cans" of Foster's (sure to lubricate the vocal chords of potential crooners) and cheap Cherry Bombs (sure to obliterate their inhibitions). Karaoke at the Up & Under Pub is among the bar's busier nights. Singers can use the stage, and several regulars, including UWM music students, make it a weekly event. And of course, there's that old guy singing Sinatra every Wednesday, too.
Best LGBT bar, 2010: La Cage
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Walker's Pint
La Cage is Milwaukee's oldest LGBT dance club, with two dance floors, four bars, mega video screens, drag shows, theme nights and new and retro extended-mix dance songs cranking all night long. Gay, straight or undefined, this club is a fun place to cut the rug while enjoying reasonably priced drinks. For a quieter, but still fun venue, Walker's Pint is just down the street.
Best live music bar: Milwaukee Ale House
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Cactus Club
Live music and cold beer go hand in hand, which is why so many Milwaukee bars double as concert venues. On the face of it, Milwaukee Ale House might not seem like a live music venue. But ever since it opened more than a decade ago, the Ale House has not only supported local music by booking gigs to help introduce musicians to the happy hour crowd (as well as late night gigs, of course), it has also occasionally brought in national and international acts, as well. That helped lift it past Shank Hall, The Rave and Cactus Club.
Best lounge: Bryant's
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Bryant's
This popular spot closed for a time after the death of long-time owner Carl Malmbert, but John Dye revived the place soon after. Much to Dye's credit, the South Side favorite remains exactly the same. Save for a major scrub down, Dye kept the retro real with ultra low lighting, velvet walls, classic tunes, attentive service and signature drinks found nowhere else in the city. Whether bellied up to the bar or sharing a candle-lit corner booth, you'll find the quintessential sipping selections like the Brain Buster, the Black Magic, the Briar Patch and The Rat Pack, a drink Dye describes plainly as, "everything The Rat Pack drank."
Best margaritas: La Fuente
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Riviera Maya
In the summer, the patio at La Fuente is packed with drinkers looking to soak in a little sunshine and a dose of tequila. Its lively atmosphere, fast service and potent margaritas have made it a local favorite, voted Milwaukee's best margaritas for the third year in a row. The popular Mexican restaurant in Walker's Point offers blended or on-the-rocks margaritas, with or without salt on the rim, and in a variety of flavors, including peach, strawberry, mango, rainbow, lime and raspberry. They are available by the glass, a three-margarita mini-pitcher or a full pitcher that pours five margaritas.
Best Marquette bar: Sobelman's Pub & Grill
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Caffrey's
It's becoming an annual event. Sobelman's wins this category and folks argue about whether it's truly a "Marquette" bar. Located in a former Schlitz tavern building at 1900 W. St. Paul Ave., is renowned for its Black Angus burgers -- served on tasty buns with three cheeses, jalapenos and fried onions -- and its Bloody Marys. Owners Dave and Melanie Sobelman, who have courted business from Marquette students and alums for nearly a decade, serve cold beer and good food in a clean, cozy environment.
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