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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Drinking Outdoors in Milwaukee

Happy hours with a view

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Cheap drinks come easy in Milwaukee, so it doesn't make sense to waste the city's precious summer months inside a dark bar just to save a couple of dollars during happy hour—especially when there are so many bars with outdoor seating offering great discounts of their own. Here are 10 open-air drinking spots with scenic views and excellent after-work deals:

Bar Louie

Bar Louie (1114 N. Water St.) offers some of Water Street's most aggressive happy-hour deals—including $3 pints of any tap beer, half-price appetizers and $1 burgers on Tuesday—and a gorgeous patio with a massive fire pit and seating for more than 100. This is some of Water Street's best people-watching.

Barnacle Bud's


Barnacle Bud's (1955 S. Hilbert St.) may not be a well-kept secret, but it really is off the grid. To get there (at least by land) requires driving down side streets, over train tracks and past an ominous sign that cautions trespassers. Tucked behind a warehouse is a tropically landscaped oasis on the river, where sun-soaking crowds toss back buckets of mini-Coronas and feast on oysters and fried seafood. There's enough dock parking here to accommodate boaters on even the most perfect summer days.

BelAir Cantina


When the California-style Mexican restaurant BelAir Cantina took over the former Good Life location at 1935 N. Water St., there was some doubt as to whether the business would also inherit the former restaurant's glorious river-view patio, but those concerns were put to rest this month when the patio reopened. BelAir's happy hour specials include $2 Pabst Blue Ribbons and select $2 tacos. (Across the street, on the other side of the recently reopened Humboldt Avenue Bridge, Stubby's Pub and Grub, 2060 N. Humboldt Ave., also offers patio seating over the river.)

Harbor Room


The Harbor Room (117 E. Greenfield Ave.) infamously offers half-price drinks to shirtless men all day. Those who prefer to keep their shirts on, however, can still enjoy two-for-one drinks (as well as free pizza) on the bar's large, private patio, which is tastefully lined with plants and surrounded by large trees.

Horny Goat Hideaway


The patio at the Horny Goat Hideaway (2011 S. First St.) is the largest in Milwaukee, and the brew pub puts that space to good use with a 50-seat outdoor bar, three fire pits, a boardwalk, 68 umbrella-covered patio tables and four sand volleyball courts. Happy hour specials include $3 tappers of Horny Goat beer, select appetizers for $5, and a dollar off rail cocktails and house wine.

The Latin Quarter


Especially during good weather, Downtown employees migrate south after work to the hub of Mexican restaurants in the district of Walker's Point nicknamed the Latin Quarter. La Fuente (625 S. Fifth St.) claims the largest patio, with a stunning fountain that gives the restaurant its name, while the multitiered rooftop patio at La Perla (734 S. Fifth St.) features a fire pit and outdoor heaters. The patio at Botanas (816 S. Fifth St.) is less landscaped but no less inviting, offering ample seating at big, umbrella-covered tables.

Milwaukee Ale House


The Milwaukee Ale House (233 N. Water St.) takes advantage of its gorgeous riverfront view with a large, covered deck patio and easy access from the city's RiverWalk. The brew pub offers its craft beers for $2.50 during happy hour.

Milwaukee Boat Line


For those who need to get away from land altogether, the Milwaukee Boat Line's happy hour cruises offer a 90-minute sightseeing tour of Milwaukee's coasts on the Iroquois, the oldest operational vessel on the Great Lakes. Specials include bottomless margaritas and half-price beer, cocktails and sodas. The cruises run five nights a week beginning May 31.

Roots Cellar


Happy hour is as good of an excuse as any to enjoy the breathtaking view of Milwaukee's skyline from the patio at Roots (1818 N. Hubbard St.), but the specials sweeten the deal: select glasses of wine for $5, select beers for $3, and sophisticated appetizers—including honey-glazed parsnip ribs, steamed mussels, roasted cauliflower and fried perch with bacon relish—for $4 or $5.

Whiskey River Saloon


Last November the former Bootleggers at 1025 N. Old World Third St. reopened with a new country theme as the Whiskey River Saloon, but the venue's striking rooftop patio and bar remain, as does its prime view of Downtown. Whiskey River offers two-for-one drinks during happy hour.