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 Lounge entertains guests with a refined roster of classic cocktails, specialty martinis, and soft lighting. Located less than two miles from the Wisconsin border, mixologists wield jiggers and shakers to conjure potions such as the Dark Secret and Pineapple Upside Cake. 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, including the signature salted caramel truffle.
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.
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.
Every night the notes of renowned jazz, blues, and R&B performers echo through the glimmering walls of 88 Keys Piano Martini Lounge, where martinis and small plates meet beneath mood-setting blue lights in West Allis’s downtown stretch. The relaxed spot was conceived by co-owners Greg Barczak and Suzy Ball who, as West Allis Now reporter Mark Schaaf notes, “hope the city is turning a corner and want to make something more of the downtown” by attracting a younger crowd and lending the area an intimate, upscale nightlife option.
Inside the low-lit lounge, glass windows open and close to bathe guests and performers in a cooling breeze. Artwork and Wisconsin gangster memorabilia, including John Dillinger photographs and high-school report cards, beam down upon pots of fondue and gourmet pizzas. Behind the glowing bar, master mixologists blend a lengthy list of 28 specialty martinis and fill glasses with wine and beer.