Food & Drink

Movers and Shakers: Meet the Milwaukee Bartenders of the Year

Published On 11/08/2016 Published On 11/08/2016
Sam Berman
Sam Berman | Brian West
Courtesy of Britt and Taylor Buckley

Britt and Taylor Buckley

Buckley’s Restaurant and Bar

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The members of the super-friendly Buckley clan are a perfect complement to the cozy and warm interior of this Downtown gem that’s been thriving for a decade. Mike, the affable patriarch, greets patrons with his Bostonian lilt. Sons Taylor and Britt both started working in the service industry as teenagers, and now they take care of a damn-fine bar at the restaurant.

Courtesy of Brandon Reyes

Brandon Reyes

Dock18 Cocktail Lab

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Twisted Path Distillery and Bittercube bitters teamed up to create a tasting room that is more speakeasy than bar. Behind a nondescript door adjacent to a series of loading docks resides a tiny bar with just five barstools and a couple of tables. That’s where Reyes does his work. Everything he uses to craft a tasty Where’s My Bourbon -- dark rum, oak syrup, Bittercube bitters, and grapefruit oil -- is made in-house. In fact, basically every single thing behind the bar is made in house.

Brian West

Sam Berman

Tin Widow

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The average barfly can likely name only handful of different gins. Sam Berman presides over more than 150, the most in the Midwest. The extensive menu includes the discontinued Tanqueray Malacca, and the extremely exclusive Nolet’s Reserve, a gin made with saffron that costs $130 a pour. Gin is the main focus, but Berman’s bar also includes 150 whiskeys and bourbons. Tin Widow is a dark, laid-back spot that serves the type of well-crafted drinks that you’d normally find more at home in a pretentious cocktail lounge.

Dana Dufek

Katie Rose


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A well-planned farm-to-table menu requires an equally thoughtful cocktail list, but Goodkind’s Katie Rose goes above and beyond. The space resembles an unassuming corner tavern at first glance, but the incredible drink menu tells a more complex story. Case in point: Goodkind’s take on a Manhattan, which includes Woodford Reserve bourbon, Carpano Antica vermouth, Pedro Ximénez sherry, Amaro Averna, and absinthe. Delicious.

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1. Buckley's Restaurant & Bar 801 N Cass St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Cozy up inside small neighborhood bistro Buckley's for comfort food with a refined twist -- from croque-monsieur for brunch to banh mi for lunch to cornish hen for dinner. You can even start your day with Buckley's upscale take on pop tarts: fresher, (way) less-processed versions of the beloved pastries of your childhood, served with sweet seasonal fillings and fresh berries. Fans swear by the grilled Kettle Range beef burger, too, topped with American cheese, house pickles, shredded lettuce, and Thousand Island on a toasted bun. Expertly crafted cocktails are poured behind a 19th-century wooden bar plucked from an NYC pub.

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2. Dock18 Cocktail Lab 2018 S 1st St, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Brought to you by Bittercube and located in the Twisted Path Distillery tasting room, experimental Dock18 is a small, rustic-chic cocktail lounge and bar in Bay View, where an ever-changing cocktail menu promises something inventive and enjoyable for every kind of drinker. All of the concoctions made in this intimate, dimly lit space are crafted with house-made syrups, liqueurs, and infusions, so rest assured that what you sip is always fresh and unique.

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3. Tin Widow 703 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204

Tin Widow in Walkers Point is a gin lover's dream, boasting more than 120 selections from around the world, served inside a dimly lit, wood-laden space where bourbon barrels are used as tables and a fireplace and antique knick-knacks provide a homey feel. The friendly bartenders in this cozy and slim neighborhood spot can whip up a Negroni, Gimlet, or classic G&T for you, but are happy to venture into whiskey territory, too, using one of the dozen options there to make a mean Old Fashioned.

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4. Goodkind 2457 S Wentworth Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Goodkind has all the warmth and friendliness of your neighborhood bar and grill -- but also lots of stuff that place doesn't have. This Bay View farm-to-table restaurant and bar specializes in rotisserie meats, local produce, and house-made cocktails. You'll find as many seasonal ingredients on your plate as you will in your glass, and the full kitchen menu is served until 1am to ensure that the space maintains as much of a bar status as it does of a restaurant one.