Shorewood has long existed as a way for Milwaukee-area residents to escape all the fun, quality dining, and nightlife amenities offered by the big city, but the affluent adjacent village has recently changed its ways. In recent years, the ’Wood has welcomed an Alterra, a microbrewery, a sushi restaurant, and a few new bars. The newest of said drinking establishments, Camp Bar, is Shorewood’s first northwoods-themed tavern—not counting The Village Pub, which accidentally pulls it off, too. Eager to imbibe amid a small forest-worth of antlers and lumber, The A.V. Club put on our dirtiest flannel shirt and headed north into the great unknown.
The space: Say what you will about Camp Bar injecting a theme into the act of consuming alcohol, but nothing can be said about the ownership’s commitment to that theme. Visitors are welcomed by a host of taxidermy wildlife, antler chandeliers, and ample wood paneling. Overall, Camp succeeds with its goal to grant Milwaukee County a woodsy reprieve without feeling forced in its execution. The interior is especially impressive when factoring in that the site served as an animal hospital just a few months ago.
The service: As we navigated through antlers and other remnants of woodland creatures in the dim-lit drink depot, we were given a warm welcome by the bartenders, who gave us a bowl of fresh-popped popcorn, a drink list, and encouraged us to take a seat. From there, the staff was a mite too attentive (which is preferable to the opposite), as employees took turns checking the status of our beer in five-to-10-minute spans. One such visit came with a complementary red velvet cupcake from a neighboring business.
The A.V. Club’s drinks: As tempting as a Camp Bar house specialty Old Fashioned was, we bypassed the liquors, as well as the 30-plus wine options and decided to stick to beer. Of the more than 50 types of beer on hand (about equal parts domestic and craft brew), we kept it local—which we saw fitting, given the bar’s Wisconsin motif. We started with a bottle of Booyah, an underrated 6.5% ABV treat from Milwaukee Brewing Company.
Making quick work of the saison ale, we were delighted to spot Rhinelander near the bottom of the beer list. Though easier to find now than during the first years of the beer’s resurrection, not all bars are hip to the diminutive-yet-delicious Wisconsin throwback. To thank Camp for its stocking decision, we polished off three shorties before taking our leave.
The verdict: Though a tad pricey and a little too small for comfort, Camp and its cozy cabin feel is well on its way to becoming Shorewood’s best bar—of about six, but still.