Food & Drink

The Best Happy Hour Specials in Milwaukee

Published On 05/24/2016 Published On 05/24/2016
Flickr/Dave Reid

Wolski's

East Side

It's always happy hour at this Milwaukee drinking institution, which offers different specials every night of the week (including $3 tap microbrew Thursdays). Even if you get there shortly after the official happy hour pricing starts at 2pm, you won't be the first one at the bar. Wolski's is a day drinking university, with plenty of regulars crowding the dark but cozy bar at all hours of the day. Happy hour ends at 7pm... but the famous "I Closed Wolski's" bumper stickers aren't handed out until seven hours later (so, you know, good luck).

Taylor's

Cathedral Square

Taylor's opened well before Cathedral Square became a bustling entertainment district (you know, back when you could actually find parking on a weekend). This place has always been a hotspot at happy hour, however, for some pretty damn solid reasons: they have a great location near plenty of thirsty working stiffs, complimentary appetizers (think cheese and crackers, salamis, Kalamata olives, etc.), and great specials on alcohol. Pretty much every type of booze on the menu is a steal from 4 to 8pm on weeknights (we're talking $3.50 Ketel One here, people).

Courtesy of Braise

Braise

Walker’s Point

When a quality farm-to-table restaurant offers a quality happy hour, everybody wins. "Odds and Ends" at Braise takes place only on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 5 to 7pm, but man, is it excellent: come for half-priced wine, beer, and small plates -- but mostly the small plates. The constantly rotating menu includes tasty items, from a braised beef bun with porcini sauce and shaved radish to butter-poached walleye spread served with crostini. Plus on Tuesday nights, a banh mi and a beer will set you back just $12 all night long.  

Bernie's Tap Room

Waukesha

Anything from the outstanding tap list at Bernie's is a buck off throughout the workweek, and one-topping pizzas are just $6 during happy hour at this beer-centric tavern in downtown Waukesha. Plus, this place offers beer flights nights on Tuesday and Wednesday, when flights are discounted the entire evening... it's a lot easier to sample two dozen tap beers when they’re on sale, and Bernie's super-inviting vibe doesn't hurt, either.

Courtesy of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

Menomonee Valley

Never before has a happy hour included such amazing opportunity. Here's how it works: from 4 to 8pm, you can spend just $3 on any beer, wine, rail drink, etc., in the casino. Then you take the sizable amount of money that you've saved on drinks, and you pump it into a slot machine, or use it to highlight your mad skills as a blackjack player. With a little (OK, a lot) of a luck, you’ll parlay that dough into a huge pile of cash... and never have to work again.  

El Fuego

South Side

For those who can't get quite enough when it comes to margaritas (so, you know, most of us), El Fuego is a good place to be from 2:30 to 6pm on weekdays, when the potent drinks at this ornate Mexican restaurant are just three dollars. Yep, three bucks. Beer, wine, and other cocktails are discounted, too, but when all you need is a $10 bill to get your margarita fix on, why drink anything else?

Hinterland Brewery

Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub

Third Ward

The swankiest brewpub in Milwaukee has an inviting bar area that just makes you want to stay a while... and that's even easier when delicious Hinterland brews are just $3 (cocktails and wine are discounted, too, but this is essentially a place for beer). Hinterland ups the ante with daily specials on its amazing food (including $5 pho on Mondays).

Camino

Walker’s Point

There's clearly no shortage of Polish heritage in Milwaukee, and Camino salutes that with an appropriately themed happy hour: this cozy spot offers a free pierogi with every craft beer purchase (free food at any happy hour is a really good thing), deals on drinks, and Polish sausage for just four bucks. Na zdrowie!

Courtesy of Distil

Distil

Downtown

Here's the deal: Distil makes some pretty amazing cocktails, and from 5 to 8pm, many of those cocktails are two dollars cheaper than normal. If you enjoy sipping some of the best drinks in town in a chic dark wood accented space, you're in luck. Throw in some charcuterie to up the decadence factor.

Saloon on Calhoun

Brookfield

Drink specials are great and all, but free bacon is something we can all get behind. And from 4 to 7pm on weekdays, that's exactly what you get: all the salted and cured bacony bites you can handle, and $1 off all drinks (except pitchers and shots). Bacon is a key ingredient on the menu at this place in the western 'burbs... and it's always best when it's free.

Stubby's Gastrogrub & Beer Bar

Stubby's Gastrogrub & Beer Bar

East Side

Hit this great spot from 3 to 6pm on weekdays, and you can start working your way through their massive tap list -- without breaking the bank. All of Stubby’s 53 craft beer taps are $1 off during happy hour, except for one select beer each week -- and that one is half price. You'll also get half off anything on the menu with a happy face next to it (think cheese curds, nachos, frickles, etc.) which can provide the solid base that you'll surely need.

Sabbatic

Walker's Point

A bar built around a punk rock aesthetic requires a happy hour to match, or it loses all sorts of street cred. Several times a week, you can nab two-for-one drinks from 5-9pm (including call brands), but what makes this place a knockout is their deal that runs from just 7 to 7:15pm Monday through Saturday, when Sabbatic offers basically anything behind the bar for just 99 cents. Drink fast: it's a deal that even Sid Vicious couldn’t sneer at.

Maxie's

Maxie's

West Side

Drink specials are nice, but fresh-shucked oysters for just a dollar are a rare and delicious find (especially in the heart of the Midwest). If you don't care for oysters, be content with a dollar off all drinks -- that just means more of the mollusks for those who like to slurp them down by the dozen. From 4 to 6pm on weekdays, Maxie's offers this Southern hospitality, Midwest style.

Hooligan's Super Bar

East Side

This oddly shaped East Side pub has earned legendary status, due both to its remarkable longevity (they've been pouring brew since 1936), and quality good times. But it’s even better from 4 to 7pm when Hoolie's has half-price appetizers, and discounted beer -- but their reverse happy hour might be even better: every night of the week, from 10pm to close, there are late night specials, including $1 brews and $4 Tito's. In the summer, the specials can be enjoyed from one of the most eclectic patios in town, which also provides a great view of bustling North Ave and its cast of characters.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

Balzac

Brady St

If you want to impress a date on a limited budget, Balzac is a good place to be from 4 to 6pm. They'll throw you $1 off tap beer, but the real move here is to score a $5 house wine, and some $5 plates, like their antipasto, red curry hummus, or cheese board. Then stick around for their killer weekly specials -- like half-off wine on Wednesdays.

Harry's Bar & Grill

Shorewood

This bright and bustling Shorewood mainstay has plenty of options for hungry and thirsty denizens of the near North Side. This place offers a seasonally rotating menu of $5 small plates, including items like pulled pork sliders, edamame falafel balls, poutine fries, and chicken wings -- plus $5 martinis, $3 microbrews, $2 macrobrews, $4 wine and rails, all available from 3 to 6pm most days of the week. And if you like to start your week with a bang, happy hour lasts from 3pm until close on Mondays.

Bryant's Cocktail Lounge

Bryant's Cocktail Lounge

South Side

A classic cocktail lounge needs an equally classic cocktail hour: on Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 8pm, Bryant's serves perfectly made Depression-Era cocktails -- like Old Fashioneds, Whiskey Rivers, and Cassis -- for just five bucks. If you're not super versed in the cocktail trends of the 1930s (you rube), the bartenders here are remarkably unpretentious and friendly -- just tell them what you normally like and are in the mood for, and they'll take it from there. It all takes place in the dark and subtly posh corner bar -- old-school cool at a discount.

Bosley on Brady

Brady St

Come hungry for the happy hour at Bosley, a laid-back spot that brings the Florida Keys to Milwaukee. From 4 to 6pm, a long list of appetizer specials start at $4 and goes up from there... so it's totally not fiscally irresponsible to fill your table with tasty items like conch fritters, catfish sliders, and coconut shrimp. But it's not just about the eating: drink specials include $6 martinis and tropical drinks, including mojitos, for just four bucks.

BelAir Cantina

BelAir Cantina

Lower East Side (& other locations)

People don't just go to BelAir Cantina for tasty tacos... you have to be able to wash them down with something. Go for the Big Kahuna margaritas (Corazon Añejo tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime, simple syrup, and a salted rim), which are even better from 3 to 7pm when they're just $6.50.

Nomad World Pub

Brady St

While the Nomad was once famous for a sarcastic happy "hour" (from 4 to 4:18, nearly every drink in the place was just one buck), the new happy hour is totally better: from 4-7pm on weekdays, you can get $4 pints, $3 rails, and $6 pizzas. And if you happen to miss this window, the eclectic Brady St spot always has the prix fixe available: a shot of Jameson and a can of Pabst for $5.

Harbor House

Harbor House

Lakefront

While the amazing, panoramic views of Lake Michigan and Downtown are the real draw, Harbor House's happy hour specials are almost as enticing. From 4 to 6pm, this spot offers $5 wines, $4 tap beer, $6 cocktails, and some great deals on food: 89-cent clams and oysters among them.

Hotel Metro

Downtown

The lounge adjacent to the lobby of the Hotel Metro is awash in art deco swank, and on Friday after the workweek is done, the bar is where many Milwaukeeans go to unwind in style, at the boutique hotel’s popular happy hour. Sure, the $3 beer and $4 wine specials are nice, but it’s the $5 martinis that have a way of making stress disappear for a while. (Those $7 Champagne Saturdays aren't hurting us either).

Boone & Crockett

Boone & Crockett

Bay View

The hip tavern mixes some mean cocktails, and has a small craft beer tap list that's big on quality. Luckily, both of these things are on special from 4 to 7pm every blessed night of the week -- expect $5 house cocktails (including their Old Fashioneds), and half-off taps. The space itself is well-worth spending time in -- the old-school décor manages to rock equal parts steampunk, saloon, and hunting lodge.

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1. Wolski's Tavern 1836 N Pulaski St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Established over a century ago, Wolski’s Tavern is the quintessential Milwaukee dive bar. Apart from the 15 beers on tap, Wolski’s offers genuine boar bristle dartboards, an outdoor patio, and free popcorn, all in a pristinely clean environment. The humble bar is dimly lit by a smattering of Tiffany lamps, which cast enough of a glow to make the walls of memorabilia visible. If you stay until closing, you’ll be rewarded with a bumper sticker, which essentially makes the whole experience worth it.

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2. Taylor's 795 N Jefferson St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Downtown)

This Juneau Town locals-only spot has always been a hotspot mainstay for a while now, and for good reason: not only is it conveniently located to Downtown, but Taylor's great deals on booze and generous complimentary appetizers (think cheese and crackers, salamis, Kalamata olives, etc.) make this place a must-visit. From 4 to 8pm on weeknights, pretty much every type of booze on the menu is a steal (we're talking $3.50 Ketel One here, people).

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3. Braise 1101 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Walkers Point)

At Braise, you can cook your meat and eat it too. This restaurant and culinary school uses locally sourced ingredients and turns them into unique and delectable dishes. And you can feel good while you nosh, because Braise is a Community-Supported Restaurant that works to connect guests and residents to local sustainability efforts. Pair your food with regional beers and global wines in addition to craft cocktails.

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4. Bernie's Tap Room and Restaurant 351 W Main St, Waukesha, WI 53186

Great atmosphere and an even better selection of beer. They feature the largest selection of craft beer on tap than any other bar in the area. They also have plenty of appetizers and specialty pizzas to choose from. Make sure to come in on Friday when they play live music.

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5. Potawatomi Hotel & Casino 1721 W Canal St, Milwaukee, WI 53233 (Menomonee Valley)

This Menomonee Valley hotel and casino is home to not only state of the art slots and gambling, but also eight restaurants and bars on site. Hone your killer blackjack skills and score on daily happy hour deals offered within the casino: from 4 to 8pm, $3 will get you just about any beer, wine, or well drink on the menu. You'll have plenty of dough saved for dinner time or for the craps table.

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6. El Fuego 909 W Layton Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53221

For those who can't get quite enough when it comes to margaritas (so, you know, most of us), El Fuego is a good place to be from 2:30 to 6pm on weekdays, when the potent drinks at this ornate Mexican restaurant are just three dollars. The Mexican eats -- like the tamale chimichanga enchilada and flautas -- pair ideally with the ravenous hunger your tequila consumption will undoubtedly work up, so we'd say it's good place to be after 6pm as well.

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7. Hinterland Gastropub 222 E Erie St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

The swankiest brewpub in Milwaukee has an inviting bar area that just makes you want to stay a while... and that's even easier when delicious Hinterland brews are just $3 (cocktails and wine are discounted, too, but this -- like most places in Milwaukee -- is essentially a place for beer). Hinterland ups the ante with daily specials on its amazing food, and a trendy space designed with exposed brick and tinder breams that'll have you making this gastropub your second home.

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8. Camino 434 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Walkers Point)

Situated on Second Street is unassuming craft beer bar and eatery Camino. It's is a tiny bar; with only 10 two- or four-top pub tables dotting the front window and 12 stools at the bar, it’s warm and toasty on those cold Milwaukee winter nights. Here, you’ll order from a selection of American bar fare, with starters like “Garbage Fries,” with fried pork jalapenos, garlic, Parmesan, parsley, and rosemary oil, burgers, house-made sausages, like the “Garlic Polish,” with sauerkraut, horseradish cream, and tomato, and, to top it all off, a selection of wings. Wash it all down with one of 20 beers on tap, 16 varieties of bottled brews, and eight types of canned beers, and take a growler to go.

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9. Distil 722 N Milwaukee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Downtown)

Distil exudes swank with its dark wood floors, brown leather-backed bar stools and booths, and the glorious amber of the bourbon bottles shining from behind the long bar. There are more than 250 bourbons, scotches, and whiskeys to choose from here, including gems like the entire Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and plenty of Orphan Barrel options. It’s not all about the brown elixir though. The meat and cheese plates include some tasty artisanal fare and are highly recommended.

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10. Saloon on Calhoun 17000 W Capitol Dr, Brookfield, WI 53005

Drink specials are great and all, but free bacon is something we can all get behind. And from 4 to 7pm on weekdays, that's exactly what you get: all the salted and cured bacony bites you can handle. Bacon is a key ingredient on the menu at this place in the western 'burbs... and it's always best when it's free, and served in a casual saloon with a pool table, live music, and TVs screening your favorite sports events, at the ready.

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11. Stubby's Gastrogrub & Beer Bar 2060 N Humboldt Blvd, Milwaukee, WI 53212

Great for a Tuesday night trivia game, and even better for a chill brunch in their outdoor space. Try their nachos with pulled pork and choose from their wide selection of beers. They always have a fun atmosphere and great portions.

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12. Sabbatic 700 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Walkers Point)

From 7pm to 7:15pm, most drinks and menu items at Sabbatic are $0.99 so get in all the beers and shots you can in those 15 minutes.

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13. Maxie's 6732 W Fairview Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53213

This Southern restaurant has expanded its barbeque offerings since opening to include Memphis and St. Louis-style ribs, and North Carolina pulled pork with a vinegar-based sauce. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but what really stands out here are the sides, including homemade mac and cheese, corn and arugula salad in buttermilk dressing, and sweet cornbread with whipped orange honey butter. Start with fried green tomatoes, tackle ribs and greens, and end with bread pudding. Congratulations, you’re now a true Southerner.

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14. Hooligan's 2017 E North Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (East Side)

Since 1936, Hoolie’s has kept a watchful, albeit bloodshot, eye on North Ave. It’s a popular destination on St. Patrick’s Day, during pretty much any important televised sporting event, and whenever the weather turns warm. Several outside tables are perfect places to watch the eclectic East Side pass by while scarfing down the signature Hooli-Burger (cheddar, bacon, BBQ sauce, mayo, olives, lettuce and tomato).

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15. Balzac 1716 N Arlington Pl, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Cozy, dimly lit, and covered with antique prints and photos, Balzac screams date night, offering a smattering of small wooden tables and chairs, plus an extensive wine list that pairs nicely with intimate conversation. The selection of wine, which includes too many vintners and vintages to count, is what brings people in, and the menu of small plates ensures they stay. Flatbreads, charcuterie, cheese plates, crab cakes, and the fan-favorite duck nachos are ideal for sharing.

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16. Harry's Bar & Grill 3549 N Oakland Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211

This bright and bustling Shorewood mainstay has plenty of options for hungry and thirsty denizens of the near North Side. This place offers a seasonally rotating menu of $5 small plates, including items like pulled pork sliders, edamame falafel balls, and chicken wings. And if you like to start your week with a bang, happy hour lasts from 3pm until close on Mondays, and can be enjoyed at the outdoor patio in the warmer months.

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17. Bryant's Cocktail Lounge 1579 S 9th St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Bay View)

A classic cocktail lounge, Bryant's serves expertly made Depression-Era cocktails -- like Old Fashioneds, Whiskey Rivers, and Cassis at bargain prices, particularly during its popular happy hour. If you're not versed in the cocktail trends of the 1930s, the bartenders here are remarkably unpretentious and friendly -- just tell them what you normally like and are in the mood for, and they'll take it from there. It all happens inside a dark and subtly posh corner bar -- old-school cool at a discount.

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18. Bosley on Brady 815 E Brady St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Downtown)

Bosley on Brady is a Florida Keys-themed seafood restaurant right in laid-back Milwaukee. Come hungry for the happy hour at Bosley because from 4 to 6pm, a long list of appetizer specials start at $4 and goes up from there... so it's totally not fiscally irresponsible to fill your table with tasty items like conch fritters, catfish sliders, and coconut shrimp. But it's not just about the eating: drink specials include $6 martinis and tropical drinks, including mojitos, for just four bucks.

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19. BelAir Cantina 1935 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (East Side)

BelAir Cantina is a Californian-style cantina serving all your Mexican favorites like tasty tacos, fajitas, burritos, nachos, and even gluten free options. This spot also has a killer happy hour special. Go for the Big Kahuna margaritas (Corazon Añejo tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime, simple syrup, and a salted rim), which are even better from 3 to 7pm when they're just $6.50.

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20. Harbor House 550 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Harbor House is an upscale seafood restaurant with amazing panoramic views of Lake Michigan and Downtown, plus an extensive wine list. However, one of the main draws here is its amazing happy hour specials. From 4 to 6pm, this spot offers $5 wines, $4 tap beer, $6 cocktails, and some great deals on food: 89-cent clams and oysters among them.

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21. Harbor House 550 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Harbor House should really just call its brunch buffet “Seafood Extravaganza" -- it goes all out with piles of fresh fish and shellfish amongst the typical omelets and bacon. And you wouldn't expect any less from a steakhouse-cum-raw bar trading in lobster bisque and shrimp cocktails, and with views of the water to boot.

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22. Hotel Metro 411 E Mason St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Downtown)

The lounge adjacent to the lobby of the modern all-suite Hotel Metro is awash in art deco swank, and on a Friday, after the work week is done, the bar is where many Milwaukeeans go to unwind in style, at the boutique hotel’s popular happy hour. Sure, the $3 beer and $4 wine specials are nice, but it’s the $5 martinis that have a way of making stress disappear for a while at this downtown spot located in the art and entertainment district.

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23. Boone & Crockett 2151 W Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (Bay View)

Sporting taxidermied wildlife and an attractive wooden bar dotted with antique light fixtures, Boone & Crockett has the look of a rustic saloon with a hint of steampunk (it is Bay View, after all). The expertly crafted cocktails are the stars here, with the true highlight being the oak-aged Old Fashioneds, which reside in a pair of small oak barrels (one for the brandy variety and one for the bourbon) suspended from the ceiling.