Floor-to-ceiling wood panels frame School Yard Bar & Grill, an East Side hangout that doles out beer and burgers in equal measure. The menu features half-pound Wisconsin beef sandwiches named after prototypical high-school characters such as the Bully—cheddar, bacon, roasted-garlic mayo, and a fried egg—and the Principal, which is accompanied by swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, and a stern letter to your parents. Patrons can dig into these and other pub dishes, including wings, mozzarella sticks, and tacos, while drinking in views of overhead TVs and domestic drafts at the bar.
At Nails By Tracy, standard polish almost seems ordinary. The studio's seasoned nail techs specialize in all sorts of eye-catching digit enhancements—Minx pedicures bestow toes with tattoo-like designs or prints, and Shellac mani-pedis employ durable Shellac polish and UV curing lights to keep nails vibrant and chip resistant for about two weeks. They also perform other digit-related services, including basic, French, and paraffin-based mani-pedis for men and women.
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.
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.
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.
Great Lakes Distillery was established in 2004 by Guy Rehorst, who desired a return to the traditional methods of handcrafting tasty spirits in small batches. Their labor of love made the distillery home to Rehorst Vodka, a Silver medal winner at the 2007 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and Roaring Dan’s Rum, as well as an award-winning gin, several small-batch seasonals, and a whiskey that adds 3 inches to each drinker's height. Each day, a knowledgeable staff member leads up to 50 individuals on 60-minute tours and tastings. The expert highlights each product and goes over production methods before visitors can taste a flight of six spirits in the climate-controlled tasting room, with a specific lineup depending on the season.