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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Milwaukee’s Nerd Bar, 42 Lounge Answers the Ultimate Question

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Located near the campus of Milwaukee School of Engineering, 42 Lounge opened on May 4 as “Milwaukee’s only nerd bar,” catering to gamers and geeks of all varieties. Owners Anthony and Lynn Nilles took inspiration from the 2007 Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, conceptualizing a space where someone could simultaneously play video games and drink alcohol, while also engaging in a social setting.

"I want people to understand that gaming is not just for ‘gamers’ … we accept all types,” says Lynn Nilles. “If you can play games, we can find a game for you to play. If you don't want to play, that's fine too. We've got math nerds, science nerds, engineers and even one girl with a Ph.D. who did her thesis on World of Warcraft.” Although games are a large focus of the bar’s theme, there are many other things that make this downtown establishment a uniquely “nerd bar."

From the 8-bit logo to the steampunk-matrix décor, 42 Lounge (326 E. Mason St.) provides an immersive experience with sly nods to nerds of all colors. The cocktails are inventive, cheeky and colorful. The Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, tops the list with a warning: “The alcoholic equivalent of a mugging. Drink… but… very carefully.” The beer list features a well balanced mix of local brews and thematically appropriate options such as Tallgrass Brewery’s 8-Bit Pale Ale, Black Sheep Brewery’s Holy Grail and Bells’ Two-Hearted Ale. The menu even offers nonalcoholic options such as “Haste,” a fruity mocktail supplemented with Red Bull, for designated drivers or non-drinkers.

42 Lounge also hosts events that cater to different types of nerdy interests. “We just had our first Quick Draw tournament with CMP Tactical Laser Tag—think old school western style quick draw – and we're planning more events with them,” says Nilles. “We have our first cosplay event coming up next month. It will be on a Saturday, no date set yet.” They have also partnered with Ian’s Pizza Cream City to deliver to late night patrons, since the bar lacks a kitchen of its own.

Walk into 42 Lounge on a Monday night and find a Dungeons & Dragons group gathered in the corner, while a few rogue gamers occupy one of the many leather couches, bashing away at each other’s characters in a “Marvel vs. Capcom” matchup. Take a seat at the bar and chat with the geek-chic bartender about who made the best companion on the BBC’s long-running “Doctor Who.” Feel your hair vibrate as the bass drops in the strangely fitting dubstep soundtrack of the day.

Or, stop in on a Saturday night to meet a livelier crowd, but be prepared to wait in a line that stretches down the block. If you make it in, be sure to drink a Red Potion to replenish your strength before taking on your pals in a multiplayer Halo tournament.

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