Beer, Wine & Spirits in Downtown Milwaukee

Select Local Merchants

The bottles that make up Thief Wine's diverse inventory are not stolen, but they may as well be. The shop's name—a reference to the long tube or "barrel thief" used to sample maturing wines waiting to be bottled—reflects the air of mischief shoppers experience in encounters with otherwise inaccessible wines that makes each of the shop's selections feel like the product of a thrilling cellar heist. The fruits of Thief's careful wine curation decorate the walls of Thief Wine's two locations with more than 500 selections, which mix familiar labels with artisanal up-and-comers from around the globe. At each location's wine bar, certified sommeliers pare down the hulking inventory to about 30 essential bottles, which slosh into thematic tasting flights or full glasses to flank small plates of cheese and charcuterie.

400 N Water St
Milwaukee,
WI
US

Skaters circle around Slice of Ice in Red Arrow Park—part of the Milwaukee County Parks system—amid trees strung with lights and the arched façade of the 1000 North Water Street building. The refrigerated oval rink accommodates 100 skaters at a time, making it ideal for family outings and confusing games of super-hockey. And inside the rink’s warming house, visitors can hide from the chill with a cup of coffee.

400 N Water St
Milwaukee,
WI
US

Prohibition did more than halt the production of beer in America for 14 years. It also signaled the end of small brewing operations and resulted in a more limited range of lagers once Prohibition ended. But in 2004, a team found a recipe scribbled down in a logbook that dated back to before the 18th Amendment. So the team decided to brew it, and thus Batch 19 was born. Their namesake lager is a pleasantly hoppy beer at 26 IBUs, combining Hersbrucker and Strisslespalt hops to create herbal and black currant notes.

311 North Plankinton Avenue
Milwaukee,
WI
US

From their vantage point inside the InterContinental Milwaukee Hotel, diners at Kil@Wat can treat themselves to panoramic vistas of the city, including the bright lights of the neighboring Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Inside the kitchen, chefs use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible to craft elegant meals fit for the awe-inspiring views. This focus on freshness and seasonality translates to a menu of upscale American comfort dishes such as pan-roasted whitefish from Lake Superior and braised short ribs with roasted garlic mash and wild mushroom jus. A staff pastry chef puts her own inventive twist on dessert, concocting delicacies such as peanut-butter-and-chocolate cheesecake with pretzel bark for an added crunch.

These gourmet morsels unite with the restaurant’s elegant décor to forge a luxurious, memorable dining experience. Vibrant chartreuse accents compliment orange suede chairs and crisp white tablecloths. Large light boxes cast a soft glow over people as they sip wine from the extensive list or pose as window washers to get in without a reservation.

139 E Kilbourn Ave
Milwaukee,
WI
US

Milwaukee Ale House echoes with notes of live music and the laughter of pub goers, but the building is also the site of serious work. Beyond a pair of glass doors, the pub's stainless steel fermentation tanks bubble with Milwaukee Brewing Company's creations. When they're ready, these beers make the short leap from brew room to bar tap, forming a beverage selection that Esquire described as, "plentiful and tasty, complementing the top-notch food."

The menu sports a convenient pairing chart that helps diners match prime rib, pulled-pork sandwiches, and spicy beef-and-chorizo burgers to house brews. Ideal with chicken, Louie's Demise exudes the smooth maltiness of a typical amber ale but with a balanced kick of Perle and Tettnanger hops, A meat-and-potatoes porter, the Admiral Stache ages for one month in bourbon barrels, lending a toasty vanilla flavor to subtle notes of milk chocolate and dried fruit.

Situated in the heart of the Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee Ale House's century-old building provides the main dining room and patio areas with waterside views of the Milwaukee River. The pub's decor exudes its own historic charm with exposed brick, a scattering of empty wooden barrels, and vintage beer signs. When live bands aren't performing, focus turns back to the bar area, where the taps form an ornate centerpiece built to resemble a copper-topped wooden vat. Around the vat hang white mugs belonging to members of the Mug Club and office workers who "got lost" during their coffee break.

233 N Water St
Milwaukee,
WI
US

You could call Vino 100 a wine boutique or a wine bar, but you might also view it as something of a wine library. Each bottle in the collection has been scrupulously cataloged according to the Wine Barometer system. Its tag decodes the complex flavors along two scales: flavor (dry to fruity) and body (light to full to solid). Buyers apply other selection criteria, too: the company guarantees it'll stock at least 100 bottles priced at $25 or less at all times, and that all those bottles will come from artisanal, limited-production wineries. Shoppers who can't wait to taste the evidence of the system's accuracy can take a bottle over to the wine bar for a small corking fee. Vino 100 also hosts wine classes and trivia nights to slake the thirst for knowledge.

102 N Water St
Milwaukee,
WI
US