Patios Built for Summer Drinking
No one wants to stay cooped up inside all summer, especially when they're drinking. So when you get the urge this summer to heard to the tavern, consider trying one of these bars where the patio is perfect for warm weather drinking.
500 W. Florida St.
The large patio at the Iron Horse Hotel is nestled next to the Fifth Street viaduct and train tracks, which matches with the hotel’s industrial aesthetic. All kinds of seating is offered, from huge, comfy sectional couches with wheeled tables for easy moving to traditional standard and bar-height seating. The Yard is also pet friendly, so your pooch can enjoy a specially made treat while you sip on a cocktail or beer. They host live music and other events often, so check their website for upcoming events.
1955 S. Hilbert St.
No list of patios in Milwaukee is complete without the classic Barnacle Bud’s. There aren’t too many tropical-themed spots around, so this is the only place where you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Key West. The river isn’t exactly Caribbean blue, but the hidden location, bright colors and ramshackle design go a long way in making you forget MKE. Seating is either at the bar/oyster bar combo, or at one of the many sun-bleached picnic tables. Dumpster Punch served in a mason jar will always be a Milwaukee favorite.
310 E. Chicago St.
The complete opposite of Barnacle Bud’s, The Outsider is a chic rooftop bar on the posh Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in the Third Ward. It’s sleek, shiny and new with long banquettes, multiple fire pits and glass fencing so you can admire the ninth-floor view. There are giant wooden games like Connect 4, huge dice and shuffleboard to keep people occupied. House cocktails here are creative and trendy, like the Coastline Charm made with honey nut cereal-infused rye, bitters, orgeat and lemon.
2155 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
If you live in a condo or an apartment with no outdoor space, you might feel envy for friends who host cookouts in their big backyards. (Or maybe that’s just me?) Next time you’re in the mood for a party, head to The Backyard, where you’ll hang out in the grassy side yard of the bar. There are grills available to use if you want to bring your own meat, dogs are welcome, there are frequent outdoor movie nights, and you can play plenty of Frisbee or lawn games. Just don’t bring your own alcohol; this is still a bar, after all, and booze is cheap here anyway.
346 N. Broadway
Another rooftop patio in the Third Ward, this one’s for beer lovers. The beer list at Café Benelux is dozens of pages long, with many of the selections coming from Belgium and Luxembourg. During the summer, the patio is the perfect spot to grab a flight and find some new favorites. Sure, a lake view is pretty, but there’s something to be said for a bustling cityscape right across from the Milwaukee Public Market. They also have several different types of bloody marys and great frites for snacking, too.
6600 W. North Ave.
The outdoor space at the Wauwatosa Camp Bar is just as spectacularly themed as the indoor space. It’s on two levels with a loft-like rooftop space. There’s a massive fireplace with a hearth big enough for a few people to relax on, wooden log couches and furniture, and of course a little bit of taxidermy. Rooms adjoining the patio have glass doors that slide fully open so you’re pretty much outside. This patio is also very dog friendly and you can be sure your pup will get a lot of attention here, leaving you to sip your old fashioned without being bothered.
4600 Estabrook Dr.
This is my favorite of the Milwaukee County Parks beer gardens because of its permanency, European feel and the great little hiking trail that takes you down to the adjacent river. It’s also billed as the first public beer garden in the U.S. since Prohibition. It seems a little dubious to me, but at least it’s appropriate for Brew City. Beer, mostly from Hofbrau, comes in hefty liter and half-liter mugs, which you pay a refundable deposit on. They serve brats, Friday fish fry and some other specials, but I recommend the giant pretzel with obatzter, a cheese and herb spread.
113 E. Juneau Ave.
Though there’s not a whole lot of space between The Harp’s bar and the river, they make the most of it. The patio is built right up to the edge of the dock, so the view is pretty great. Bar seats on the patio are oriented so customers are facing the river. You can dock your boat there if you’re so inclined, which many people are, especially on holidays or the occasional booze cruise. Things tone down a bit on Sunday nights with live music on the patio, perfect for sipping on a couple pints of Guinness.
2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
It is not terribly surprising that the patio is adorable at Boone & Crockett, because the bar is pretty adorable too. It’s kind of a cozy hipster haven, with soft lighting, vintage furniture and deer antlers for good measure. Outside, it’s a small space with a bar, hanging plants and a pergola for shade. But, there’s also Boone’s ace in the hole: Gypsy Taco. The truck is more or less permanently parked in the yard now, so you can get those fresh tuna tacos to go along with your barrel-aged cocktail.
5300 S. 76th St.
Southridge Mall may seem like a weird place for a brewery, but the area desperately needs some more non-chain restaurants anyway. Their location in the mall right next to an entrance allows them to have an expansive patio. It may be next to the parking lot, but at least it’s not next to a busy street. There’s a full outdoor bar along with a huge circular fireplace, and beyond that is a separate area for tables and benches. You don’t even need to go inside at all if you don’t want to, and who does when it’s 75 degrees and sunny?