Outdoor drinking guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Sept. 16, 2013 at 10:09 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
Cocktailing is a year-round sport in Milwaukee, but the peak season generally coincides with our all-too-brief flirtation with warm weather.
We've enjoyed a pleasant spring, which has provided ample opportunity to visit some of the city's spots and check out a few new venues for al fresco drinking and fun.
These days, outdoor patios come a dime a dozen. That's not a bad thing, but it would be futile to try to list them all here in a comprehensive guide. Instead, we're picking a few of our favorites that will help you take the party to the patio this summer.
If you have a favorite spot that's not on our list, use the Talkback feature to share it.
1716 N. Arlington Place, (414) 755-0099
Want a bit of an upscale feeling, just off Brady Street? Order a wine and sit either street side or at the back patio at Balzac.
1114 N. Water St., (414) 847-1330
It's one of Downtown's larger outdoor drinking spaces, and it's full of Milwaukee history too as it used to be Brew City BBQ, one of the original drinking spots on Water Street.
1955 S. Hilbert St., (414) 481-9974
This place is great for so many reasons, perhaps No. 1 being that so few know where it is. That's because it's nestled behind Skipper Bud's on the north side of Bay View, and you have to drive through a few parking lots to find it. Once you do, you'll see a totally unique view of the city, with converging rivers and a backdrop that feels more Key West than Milwaukee. The bar is far from fancy – it's good for greasy bar food, Coronas and margaritas. In terms of vibe, it's filled with people who've docked their boats, as well as landlubbers who just came to adjust their latitude.
901 W. Juneau, (414) 847-1330
What's not to love about a beer garden on the site of the historic Pabst brewery? Get your PBR on tap, take in the old world charm and hang around for one of their regular weekend music acts. You can even take your picture with Captain Pabst himself (or a statue of him, anyway).
Brocach Irish Pub
1850 N. Water St., (414) 431-9009
Change the Kool and the Gang lyric to "Elevate Good Times" and you get the idea at this rooftop spot. The umbrella-topped tables make for a pleasant atmosphere and a unique view.
346 N. Broadway, (414) 501-2500
Third Ward rooftop bar with views of Downtown. Need we say more?
2608 N. Downer Ave., (414) 963-6366
7677 W. State St., Wauwatosa (414) 475-6771
If you like Belgian beer, pommes frites and a cool vibe, you'll be happy in either of these venues. The Tosa location is especially ripe for people watching – and trainspotting – too.
Casablanca on Brady
728 E. Brady St., (414) 271-6000
Major renovations transformed one of the city's best Middle Eastern restaurants – and one of the Milwaukee's best buffets – into a destination hot-spot for the late-night crowd, too, thanks to a second floor deck that juts out over the sidewalk to offer views along Brady Street.
823 E. Hamilton St., (414) 223-1020
One of the newer classy destinations in the Brady Street area, The Hamilton gives guests a quiet, out-of-the-way place to sit back and sip their wine or champagne of choice. Relax late into the evening with a cheese, charcuterie or chocolate plate.
Harp Irish Pub
113 E. Juneau Ave., (414) 289-0700
Perfect for outdoor drinks and tomfoolery from spring to fall, The Harp is located half a block off Water Street. Nothing beats sitting on the patio overlooking the water on a hot summer night.
Hooligan's Super Bar
2017 E. North Ave., (414) 273-5230
Hooligan's is right in the thick of things, and during the summer the outdoor patio is a fun place to dine and casually take in the view of the bustling East Side.
Horny Goat Hideaway
2011 S. 1st St., (414) 482-4628
The Horny Goat's Horny Hideaway is a drinker's dream year-round. Not only are there beers aplenty, the BFT (Big "Fun" Tent) gives patio-goers indoor volleyball with heated sand, live music and tasty pub grub. Patio-side docking makes it boat-friendly, too.
Il Mito East
1028 E. Juneau Ave., (414) 271-1414
When Chef Michael Feker moved his Il Mito restaurant to Tosa several years ago, he couldn't wait to open another location back on the city's East Side - and it's not hard to see why, now that Il Mito East is here. The crowning jewel of this laid-back, casually elegant temple of food is the beautiful patio overlooking Juneau Avenue. Best of all, Feker offers you a mix-and-match for just $10 during Happy Hour.
625 S. 5th St., (414) 271-8595
9155 W. Bluemound Rd., (414) 771-9900
2423 Kossow Rd., Waukesha, (262) 717 9400
With a name like "The Fountain," you can bet these three outdoor drinking spots have them in spades. The Tosa location even has one in its indoor dining area, but the patios are where it's at. Enjoy one of their signature margaritas (heck, grab a pitcher) and enjoy a taste of Mexico right here in Milwaukee.
734 S. 5th St., (414) 645-9888
Let's be honest; drinking on a rooftop is somehow inherently more fun than drinking on ground level. There's just no two ways around it. Add a few fire pits and colorful lights strung above your head and you've got one of the coolest outdoor spots in the city.
Leff's Lucky Town
7208 W. State St., Wauwatosa
What used to be a tiny gas station / parking lot is now a comfortable drinking / dining spot that has made Leff's even more popular with the Tosa crowd.
Milwaukee Ale House
233 N. Water St., (414) 226-2337
The Ale House, with its picturesque location on the Milwaukee River, gives diners and drinkers a spectacular backdrop to conduct the pursuit of merriment. (The craft beer selection doesn't hurt, either). It's a perennial favorite in OnMilwaukee.com's annual Best Patio survey and a great place to soak up the sun or watch it set.
Milwaukee Sail Loft
649 E. Erie St., (414) 223-0100
Our own Bobby Tanzilo has raved about the patio behind Sail Loft, where the Milwaukee River meets the waters of Lake Michigan in the shadow of the Hoan Bridge. With – or despite – the plaints of the seagulls, this deck – which welcomes boaters – offers urban views but the serenity of the seaside.
Nomad World Pub
1401 E. Brady St., (414) 224-8111
Why do we all love The Nomad? Maybe because we can sit outside on their tiny patio during the summer and watch the hustle and bustle of Brady Street while we sip a microbrew. Maybe it's their dangerously delicious Bloody Marys? Their happy hour specials? The $5 prix fixe? Whatever. We like it.
2339 N. Murray Ave., (414) 223-3496
This is undoubtedly one of the city's finest outdoor drinking experiences. The beautiful – and large – patio is adorned with natural foliage, small white lights and ornate stonework. The music is lively and authentically Irish and the snacks are, of course, free and plentiful.
Port of Call
106 W Wells St., (414) 273-7678
Located in the Cawker Building on the Milwaukee River, Port of Call is home to a large patio 1,300 square foot patio and it's the docking home boat cruises including The Edelweiss.
Rock Bottom Brewery
740 N. Plankinton Ave., (414) 276-3030
With good bar food and an awesome setting on the Milwaukee River, Rock Bottom is a great Downtown place to turn happy hour into dinner into an evening of fun.
Stubby's Gastrogrub & Beer Bar
2060 N. Humboldt Blvd., (414) 763-6324
Comfort food and more than 50 beers on tap combine with a great riverside patio to create an inviting vibe that's walkable from the bar zones on North Avenue and Brady Street.
Trinity Three Irish Pubs
125 E. Juneau Ave., (414) 278-7033
When things get crowded inside, it's nice to have a patio to escape to and get some fresh air. But, Trinity's is so nice that it's worth a stop all on its own. With stone accents and scores of nooks and crannies for you and your friends to sit and relax, Trinity's patio is practically a separate bar all on its own.
1758 N. Water St., (414) 272-0205
The extensive remodeling work at this popular spot made the outdoor area larger and there is a spot protected from the elements. The menu is revamped, but the patio is still the same lush, cool place to hang out.
2235 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 272-1775
The small, triangular beer garden at Von Trier is cozy and enclosed, making you feel like part of an exclusive beer-swilling club on a warm summer evening.
249 N. Water St., (414) 431-1133
Water Buffalo's two-story terrace is one of the restaurant's biggest draws. Perched along the RiverWalk, the large patio offers great views of the city at night while providing the perfect sanctuary to enjoy your drink.
788 North Jackson St., (414) 312-8566
A great spot for before or after Jazz in the Park – or any time. You'll see plenty of movers and shakers hanging out under the torches' firelight.
The Wicked Hop
345 N. Broadway St., (414) 223-0345
The Wicked Hop might just be the perfect spot for a Third Ward happy hour. In the warm months, there's plenty of outdoor seating under the huge metal awning and plenty of people-watching, yet, since it's on Broadway, it's off the path of Water Street enough to still feel calm and relaxing after a long day at the office.
500 W. Florida St., (414) 831-4615
More than one guest has soaked up the atmosphere outside the Iron Horse Hotel and exclaimed "I feel like I'm in another city!" With nearly 5,000 square feet of space featuring upholstered sectionals and a comfortable upscale vibe, this is a place to sip tasty, creative (and expensive) cocktails and watch the beautiful people.
A great Milwaukee area patio is Three Cellars - 7133 S. 76th Street Franklin, WI 53132 With great beers on tap and wines by the glass, along with a seemingly infinite number of bottles that can be chilled and served, there is something there for everyone. I tend bar there, so stop and say hi! Also be sure to check out patios at The Irish Pub - 124 N. Water Street - Milwaukee, WI 53202 Attebury's - 3807 South Packard Ave., St. Francis, WI 53235 If it's raining there is always the enclosed patio at O' Lydia's 338 S 1st St Milwaukee, WI 53204
Port of Call has a huge patio on the river great for watching boaters and kayakers on the river!
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