Themed bar guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Feb. 21, 2008 at 5:13 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
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If you look hard enough, almost every bar has a theme. Some focus on a sport -- or one very special team from Green Bay in particular. Others align themselves with the drinks and traditions of a geographic region. (These days, it seems, everyone's banking on Irish pubs.)
But what about the random, unique and sometimes totally weird themes, like the former Flanigan's Call Box, 2599 S. Logan Ave. (Burnhearts is there now), whose UFO motif definitely set it apart from your average corner bar?
Themed bars might be something of a dying breed, but there are still a handful in Milwaukee that add to Brew City's distinctive nightlife charm.
722 E Burleigh St., (414) 372-7880
Theme: A canvas for creative expression
From its permanent bottle cap sculptures to its weekly Open Canvas (think open mic, but with paint brushes) every Sunday starting at 6 p.m., the name really says it all. It's a bar that doubles as an art gallery. And actually, since it started opening at 6 a.m. for coffee, bakery and Wi-Fi, it wears a third hat as a café, too.
But what never changes here is the art presence. Owner Don Krause rotates themed installations monthly and likes to show off the starving artist types -- the ones who might not otherwise have a venue to show their work. The annual Halloween "Fear" shows are always perfectly disturbing.
2501 S. Delaware Ave., (414) 481-8030
Theme: Classic lounge cocktails
Don't show up thinking you'll kick back with a bottle of beer; there aren't even any on the menu. The idea here is to go over the top for a night and order one of the fancy ice cream drinks or booze-heavy specialties like the infamous Tiki Love Bowl, which comes perfectly a-flame with rum 151.
When a server twice your vintage arrives with your fruity concoction, sip slowly. Don't mistake the drink's sweet taste for low alcohol content. Sit back, allow the lounge acts to mellow your mood and take in one of Milwaukee's unique treasures. The drinks aren't cheap, but this is a special occasion destination, so go ahead and splurge.
Cans Bar & Canteen
1815 E Kenilworth Pl., (414) 225-0421
Theme: Old School fun in a can
If you know all the words to "Livin' on a Prayer," can recite a minimum of seven lines from "The Breakfast Club" and know why Ms. Pac-Man beats the pants off the original Pac-Man game, you are a prime candidate for the kind of nostalgia circulated at Cans Bar & Canteen.
Cans perpetually celebrates the '80s with scenes from the Brat Pack, music from hair bands and classic hip-hop and, most prominently, with more than 50 varieties of beer available in cans. The spacious bar knows how to rev up the retro, but doesn't push it over the borderline. DJs still remember what decade it is for the rest of the world and the slightly cushy décor rivals that of any modern establishment. But really, who doesn't love it when "Funky Cold Medina" comes on? Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
Foundation hasn't has a jukebox in over six years! They DO have Milwaukee's Best Mai Tai!
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