Amid the cheers of football and baseball games blaring from big-screen TVs, Magoo's Sports Pub's friendly bartenders fill bellies with domestic and imported brews and pub fare. Flocks of a dozen different varieties of chicken wings range from hot or mild spices to piquant flavors such as thai or caribbean jerk. At the grill, chefs flip burgers oozing with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni or blackened Cajun beef patties topped with with blue-cheese crumbles. Seafood lovers dock at the bar every Friday for an all-you-can-eat fish fry, and a selection of imported beer bottles contain lost messages from sea such as, "SOS. Please send ice."
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.
Fire on Water?s name conjures a mental image of pizzas, cocktails, and beer floating together on a blazing lake. The flame-licked menu sizzles with a diverse lineup of pies that range from simple and elegant margherita pizzas topped with tomatoes, sweet basil, and mozzarella. In addition to pizzas, the kitchen also dispenses boneless chicken wings, and wonton-wrapped mozzarella sticks with more cheese than a selfish mousetrap. Each day of the week brings a new drink special to the bar, which houses more than 50 kinds of beer and a lengthy selection of liquors to be hoisted toward weekly events and live music.
Even with the ambitious goal of trying a new variety every night, it would take months to sample every single beer at Stubby’s Gastrogrub & Beer Bar. Not only are there 53 different drafts and an array of cellar reserve bottles, but the selection is constantly updated with new craft brews from Wisconsin and around the world. Beer-savvy bartenders make their own recommendations behind the circular center bar as servers deliver trays of imaginative gastropub dishes—crab-stuffed jalapeños, freshwater bluegill sliders, and the hefty burger lauded by reporters from A.V. Club Milwaukee as “drool-inducing.” When not toppling giant Jenga blocks or throwing darts, guests can gaze up at the flat-screen televisions and cheer when a hardened banker learns to love in a Lifetime movie. The massive wooden deck gives al fresco enthusiasts space to linger over bites of cod tacos and barbecue pork nachos.
As the bartender looks up from his stool, he sees the world around him has started to spin. But drinking on the job isn't to blame: the scenery shifts around him as the mobile Pedal Tavern rolls down the streets of Milwaukee, powered by the cycling feet of up to 15 of his friends. Ten seats with bicycle-style pedals, plus five seats for non-pedaling passengers, circle up around the wooden bar-in-the-round where the “bartender”—actually one of the passengers—leads the carousing and doles out snacks the group has packed. A flat roof shades passengers as a Pedal Tavern employee steers the craft around corners and curves. Though there's no alcohol onboard the Pedal Tavern itself—in line with current legislation—the bars and taverns along routes in the Third Ward and Walker's Point pour beers and cocktails, including perpetual happy-hour specials for Pedal Tavern riders.
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 650 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.