Opening a portal to the netherworld usually requires a combination of candles, incense, and an interpretive dance based on Goodnight Moon. Skip the complex rituals with today’s Groupon: for $20, you get an evening ghost tour for two at Milwaukee’s Haunted Bar, a part of Shaker’s Cigar Bar (a $40 value). Participants must be aged 18 or older and must call ahead or check in online to reserve a spot.
Located in Milwaukee’s warehouse district and housed in a former cooperage and speakeasy dating back to 1894, Shaker’s Cigar Bar adds a hauntingly historical element to an otherwise typical night out. Paranormal researchers and the proprietor himself maintain that Shaker’s bustles with otherworldly regulars. Starting at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, groups of 13 or fewer tour takers explore the old building—from the basement below to the former brothel—in search of spine-tingling apparitions and the friendly phantasms of former accountants. Confronting the supernatural may be hard on the nerves of some erstwhile specte- seekers; fortunately, the bar-based tour allows patrons to bring a drink (not included) along for liquid courage.
Intricate 19th-century woodwork greets guests upon arrival, and a brass-topped front bar beckons un-wetted whistles and parched kazoos to belly up for a libation, such as a snifter of 132-year-old cognac paired with a natural Dominican cigar from the basement humidor. Bartenders, called Shakers and Shakerettes, also serve up period-style absinthe cocktails at the carved-oak back bar. The drinkery’s tin ceilings and tin-relief walls sigh with age as they long for new hearts, and antique stained glass and hardwood maple floors round out the time-displaced décor, transporting patrons into a bygone era.