Twirling revelers cut through colorful lights and twirling dancers while Lava Lounge's bartenders shake up martinis, pour frosty pints of domestic beer, and forge an array of cocktails. The menu flaunts multicolored concoctions like a chemist's resumé, with drinks including the key-lime-pie martini, a fusion of creamy vanilla and citrus flavors with a honey-and-graham-cracker-crumb rim. The trance-inducing Zombie cocktail swirls dark rum and cherry brandy, and drink specials rotate daily between potent long island teas ($2), piquant glasses of bloody mary ($3), and sloshing pitchers of domestic brews ($4). Occasional live-music events create a sonic backdrop while customers practice coordination every Tuesday with beer-pong tournaments ($5 cups) for cash prizes or hit the dance floor for chances to prance through pulsing laser lights without getting kicked off museum-heist squads.
Mrs. Robert Hall Baker built a lakeside summer residence in 1885 that she called “the Redwood Cottage.” Despite the humble name, Emily Baker’s residence was no quaint bungalow. She commissioned a Queen Anne mansion, now restored, that still houses 17,000 square feet of living space with a peaked turret, 30 lavishly appointed rooms, 13 fireplaces surrounded by hand-carved mantles, antique tiles, and a lakefront garden. Since its days as a summer retreat for Emily and her five children, the house has led a colorful life. It thrived as a Victorian sanitarium for wealthy patrons suffering from nervous disorders, a Prohibition-era speakeasy, and a boarding-house for Playboy Club burlesque dancers, before becoming a restaurant and lakefront hotel.
Today, renamed the Baker House in honor of its founder, the mansion is again a private residence that doubles as a luxury inn, restaurant, and portal through time back to the Gilded Age. Visitors can listen to the house's player piano in the music room, play backgammon in a game room, and sip glasses of wine fireside. In scenic settings lauded in USA TODAY as a romantic destination, guests enjoy dishes from a menu that features artisanal Wisconsin cheeses and charcuterie, filet mignon, and butter-broiled lobster tail. Rather than sitting in one central dining room, guests are seated throughout fire-lit parlors while lounging on wing-back chairs and overstuffed fringe couches overlooking Lake Geneva.
Visitors who want to indulge further in a Gilded Age fantasy can spend the evening in a luxury hotel suite decked in dramatic decor, working fireplaces, ornate woodwork, and SPA bathrooms with steam showers. A personal butler is continually on staff to tend to guests' needs.
Inspired by the art-deco elegance of the 1940s, Olive Black Martini & Wine Lounge entertains guests with a refined roster of classic cocktails, specialty martinis, soft lighting, and live jazz entertainment. Located less than two miles from the Wisconsin border, mixologists wield jiggers and shakers to conjure potions such as the Creme Brule and Blood Orange N.A. Groni. Selections of authentic tapas dishes settle stomachs after a few drinks, with bite-sized eats such as cajun bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin or seared shrimp served with fresh mango salsa. Meals end sweetly with such succulent desserts as the salted caramel truffle or homemade pistachio mousse.
In the heart of Wauconda on the shoreline of Bangs Lake, Docks Bar & Grill offers up sweeping water views along with traditional American grill fare. The menu features Docks’ classic homemade crab cakes garnished with mango-chili sauce, the 10-ounce smoked-bacon-brie burger, and Docks Famous barbecue baby back ribs. To keep up a convivial atmosphere, Docks hosts crowd-drawing events nearly every night, including Monday night football and live music on the weekends. While taking in the laid-back but chic decor, which features black leather booths, dark wood furnishings, and intimate lighting, guests can also enjoy drink specials that change daily. For gatherings or private parties, Docks' has a banquet room that overlooks Bangs lake.
Along with their music-inspired décor featuring murals of guitar player Jimi Hendrix and other rock legends, EvenFlow Music & Spirits brings in live jazz, rock, and blues bands to their full-sized stage. To fuel their patrons, the chefs cook a menu of upscale American fare—which has included dressing up grilled cheese sandwiches with short ribs and brioche bread and seared diver scallops with watermelon salsa.
More than 100 flavors of shisha infuse Milan Hookah Lounge’s softly lit atmosphere with a smoky haze that swirls off of premium tobacco from brands such as Fantasia and Starbuzz. Tobacco-free hydro herbal molasses comes in a slew of sweet flavors, satiating nicotine abstainers and easing the conscience of leafy, tobacco-human hybrids, and refreshing colas and teas cleanse smoke-saturated tongues. Guests kick back in a cozy lounge area with ceiling-suspended lamps, low couches, and sports-broadcasting TVs as occasional live music and belly dancing swell the airwaves with melodious and abdominal vibrations.
Fragrant hookah smoke swims through the vividly hued lounge at Arabian Nights, undulating past curtains, pillows, and curling decorative accents. Guests take in scents through the winding tubes attached to their stations' apparatuses, choosing from an extensive list of shishas that includes herbal varieties for those who'd like to avoid tobacco. Guests are free to bring their own snacks to the lounge, which also serves teas, sodas, coffees, and juices.
The decor is eclectic. In one section, royal-blue walls contrast with the fairy-light-sprinkled vines that crawl around the perimeter of the ceiling. In another, orange and red walls corral a TV and a DJ station flanking a fireplace. Dramatic mirrors, low cushions, and checkerboard walls characterize other regions of the softly lit space, filled with guests surfing the web with complimentary WiFi and caterpillars avoiding political topics on first dates.