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 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.
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.
Every seat at The Beach House Restaurant and Bar gets a front-row view of the sun as it sinks below the other side of the lake. These nightly sunset shows make it easy to see why the space has been a popular hangout since the 1940s. Although The Beach House only opened its doors in 1995, it's still a haven for old-fashioned fish fries and traditional grilled steaks. The menu also showcases six varieties of salad, including ones topped with grilled salmon or king louis crab, perfect for those seeking a lighter option or extra lettuce to save for rabbit bait.