The Rain had just started falling softly as my wife and I pulled up to Shakers Cigar Bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. No, we aren’t big fans of cigar’s. We were there for a completely different reason. You see, Shakers is full of ghosts.
That’s right I said ghosts. On Wednesday through Saturday nights, you can get a ghost tour at Shakers, and you even get to carry a drink around with you. We had arrived a bit early, and so had time to sit down and enjoy a cocktail before the tour.
The bar itself is antique with lots of wood and a real tin ceiling. It has the look and feel of a 1930’s speakeasy, despite the fact that much of the decor has come from other historic locations. The bar was in fact a speakeasy back in the days of prohibition. The front of the building was disguised as the ABC Bottling Company but now serves as the front bar with some nice tables and a little raised area for your smoking pleasure.
Since it was still fairly early in the day, the bar was not yet filled with smoke, for which we were thankful. Shakers has a few special drinks to go along with the ghostly theme, including a few made with absinth. Be forewarned, absinth is fairly powerful and disgusting. The Ghost Ale was much more to our taste, although the Shadow People Lager sounded good too.
We then met Megan, our tour guide. Megan is a pretty young Wisconsin college student making some extra bucks serving as a tour guide at Shakers. She really added a lot to the whole experience. She was cheerful and confident and really knew a lot about the goings on in the building. During the tour I asked her a couple of times about personal experiences, as well as some of the other employees of the bar, and they all had interesting and entertaining stories.
The tour began outside where we got some history of the area, and the undiscovered bodies right beneath our feet. The building is from 1894. You can still see two of the horse rings embedded in the wall. We went into the back entrance, where the speakeasy guests were let in so long ago.
Into the bar proper we went, and then to the women’s bathroom. Quite the hotspot it is. You’ll hear stories of the little girl, and see the toys that the staff leave out for her. My wife never ran into her spirit while we were there, but many others have according to reports.
The spookiest part of the tour was next. The basement is truly creepy by anyone’s standards. The staircase that leads nowhere was the only place I actually felt uncomfortable, like we were not alone. Megan let us know that every tour guide is expected to spend five minutes alone in the basement with the lights out.
We toured the second and third floors. This was the brothel area of the old speakeasy. It’s no longer a home for ladies of the evening, at least not living ones. They say that Molly Brennan still resides there in the upstairs apartment. You might be able to catch a glimpse of her, as they will rent you the room for the evening if you are so inclined.
For us, the top floor was the culmination of the tour in more ways than one. The rain outside became a thunderstorm, and lightning flashed in the windows an Megan told us the story of the human bones the owner found in the hotel when they were remodeling. Then our tour came to a close. All in all it lasted about 90 minutes.
During the tour we stopped twice to refill our glasses if we wished. I’ll admit that I felt a nice warmth spreading through me as the tour came to a close. We decided to sty and enjoy one of their wood fired pizza’s and it was actually really good. That’s saying a lot coming from a Chicago guy like myself.
By this time the bar was starting to get pretty smoky, so we bid a fond farewell to the ghost bar. I convinced my wife that we need to pick up two of their beer glasses (because they have ghosts on them).
A great evening out with my wife that was spooky and fun, with wine and spirits (pun intended). Shaker’s is a bar where history comes alive, or at least make s some noise.
Shakers Cigar Bar: 422 South Second Street, Milwaukee Wisconsin
Tours starting at 7:00 on Wednesday through Saturday nights. The 10:00 pm time on Friday & Saturday is for the 2.0 version of the tour.
Call (414) 272-4222(414) 272-4222 or visit Milwaukee’s Haunted Bar