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6 Wisconsin Bars Perfect for a Fireside Drink

By Jerry Huffman
Special to TravelWisconsin.com

"Unique" is a word that goes well with a nightcap. A unique location. A unique drink. A unique story.

Hence, we're compiling a handful of uniquely Wisconsin destinations perfect for a nightcap in front of a roaring fireplace. You know the moment – you finally can breathe again and remember why you like getting away from it all.

And the right nightcap makes it even better.

Little Bohemia – Manitowish Waters

Cranberry cobbler martinis by a giant fireplace, roast duck, and a great story about John Dillinger are all on the menu at Little Bohemia.

In 1934, America’s most wanted criminal and his gang were hiding out at the one-time resort, today a restaurant and bar. Someone snitched. The FBI showed up shooting. Dillinger and company ran for the woods, leaving behind a treasure of personal items.

Eighty-plus years later, you can still stick your fingers in walls scarred by bullet holes the owners were savvy enough to never repair. There’s also a touch of Hollywood glamor on display in the dining room along with Dillinger’s suit.

Johnny Depp, as Dillinger, was here in 2009 to recreate the shootout for the film "Public Enemies." Depp and company left behind almost as many interesting things as the original gangsters.

Insider's know the easiest way to start a conversation at Little Bohemia is to ask about the Dillinger shootout. Even though it happened 83 years ago, it's still the number one topic of conversation. Try an Old Fashioned while you're there too. They still hand muddle the fruit for a great taste.

Chateau De Pere – De Pere

The food, pumpkin martinis and Jamie Fletcher are three good reasons to visit the Chateau De Pere Hotel. The martinis speak for themselves, as does seasonal French cooking traditions like Boeuf Bourguignon and Salmon Buerre Blanc. Featured on Friday nights, Fletcher’s music, a 2015 International Music Awards finalist, compares nicely to Norah Jones.

Did we mention the lobby fireplace and those in some of the rooms as well? Along the Fox River, the distinctively French destination was voted a Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor.

Insider's know parents get a nifty "field trip" special at the Chateau. If you're visiting your student be sure to mention it when you make the reservation.

Donny's Glidden Lodge Restaurant – Sturgeon Bay

One of the best settings for a nightcap we’ve found, this waterfront restaurant sits along Whitefish Bay (just a few miles south of Whitefish Dunes State Park) and has a large wood-burning fireplace in the homey bar area.

Combine a toasty fire with Lake Michigan just on the other side of the windows (and we mean just on the other side), and this popular local hangout would be the perfect place to pass an afternoon or an evening.

Insider's know the early bird gets the best deals at Donny Glidden's. Stop in between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. and you'll get a slightly smaller version of the daily special at a lower price.

The Charmant Hotel – La Crosse

When you check into the Charmant Hotel - a restored candy factory - you get a free sample. Insider's tell us the Grey's Sea Salt Caramel is to die for. You may want to check in twice just to be sure.

The Charmant boasts fireplaces in the parlour and on a rooftop terrace. A small property with only 67 rooms, the hotel, restaurant and bar originally housed the Joseph B. Funke Candy Company.

Embracing the building's “sweet” history, the hotel's name means "charming" in French and was the name of a premium line of candy that was made in the former factory. Our personal favorite decadence at the Charmant? A 24-hour Sweets Bar.

The Pfister Hotel – Milwaukee

The Pfister is a unique family destination during the holidays. Opened in 1893, the hotel’s elegant lobby is perfect for hot chocolate with the kids and people watching. A massive Christmas tree makes a great backdrop for a family holiday selfie.

Afternoon tea is served seasonally at the hotel's trendy Blu Bar, with priceless views of Milwaukee from 20+ stories up and outstanding adult libations to enjoy in front of the fire. Or, you can cozy up at the fireplace in the library-style Club Lounge on the same floor.

On the first floor near the Pfister coffee shop insider's like to check out the Artist-In-Residence studio. You'll find the artist there regularly and they host four gallery receptions a year along with a number of other events.

This Is It – Milwaukee

Don’t expect signage to let you know you’ve found Wisconsin’s oldest operating gay bar because there isn’t any. One regular credits the family vibe for making it a special place for nearly 50 years: “You remember 'Where everyone knows your name' in the Cheers theme? It’s the same here.”

Slightly cheeky holiday themes are a unique part of the culture. A few years ago, the owners decorated the bar with photos of Betty White for a "White Christmas" feel. Showtunes are a Sunday afternoon special.

They also host a local charity fundraising event the last Wednesday of each month.

This entry was posted in Pubs & Taverns Hotels & Motels

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