The A.V. Club’s 2012 Milwaukee New Year’s Eve bar guide
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Like all geographical locations that recognize the annual changing of years, Milwaukee has a rich history of celebrating New Year’s Eve. Of course, somewhere along the line, we got saddled with the Harlem Globetrotters as our yearly bearers of New Year’s cheer. But The A.V. Club knows that, especially without Scooby-Doo, the Globetrotters aren’t exactly everybody’s jam, and not everybody feels inclined to encourage the shamelessly unethical shenanigans against the well-meaning try-hards known as the Washington Generals. So it’s our pleasure to offer some booze-friendly New Year’s Eve alternatives.
Starting at 7 p.m., the wonderful Alchemist Theatre will host a nostalgic night of John Hughes films, ’90s jams, drinking, and costumes. For $20, you can imbibe all the rail mixers, beer, and wine you care to drink.
Art Bar will be having a New Year’s Eve party at 9 p.m. where you can kick it with The Fatty Acids and WC Tank and partake in some $2 Pabst, Bittberger, and Mystery Beer. Also: free pool!
Kid Cut Up returns to Milwaukee for Bad Genie’s New Year’s Eve spectacular.
Best Place will be living up to its name by being the best place for a New Year’s Eve pajama party. The fun begins at 8:00 p.m. with free beer, free food, and no cover. As the party wraps up the next day, many of the pajama pals will be taking their footies over to the Polar Bear Plunge.
Few Milwaukee bars will be classier and more expensive—and more likely to make you feel like Don Draper—on New Year’s Eve than Blu. For $200, you can reserve a table and sample French shucked snow-crab, Brie, Apalachicola bay oysters, mango mignonette, key lime segments, and Peruvian snapper ceviche spoons. And black caviar, of course.
De La Buena will be playing well into the morning hours of New Year’s Day, upon which Lulu promises slick brunch specials and Bloody Marys.
Circle-A opens its doors at 7 p.m., beginning the night of revelry with Madison’s Dharma Dogs and Milwaukee’s Aluminum Knot Eye. New York’s James Chance takes over at 11 p.m. White Label #12, 90-proof Tennessee whisky, Pisco Sours, and delicious tap beers will be readily available.
Spend the evening with Daniel Kinno, likely the second most successful comedian who draws his comedy from the hilarity of Soviet Russia. He’ll be joined by Steve Gillespie and William Krolowitz.
Fat Daddy’s should be a good place to go if you don’t want to remember what you did the night before. There will be a pub crawl that starts at 9 p.m.
Frank’s Power Plant
Beginning at 10 p.m., join Burning Sons, Gravedirt, Metal Monday, and others and bang your head at the best place to do it—a self-proclaimed Headbanger’s Bash.
Horny Goat Hideaway
For a $70 general admission, you’ll get to see The Toys and a balloon drop so gigantic that it is quite frankly absurd.
Hotel Foster will be offering New Year’s class and elegance for only $10. Calling its event “Thigh Highs And Bow Ties: Another Hotel Foster New Year’s,” one wouldn’t be out of line to expect a very Gatsby New Year’s. Asher Diamonds and Why B will be performing, and there will be complimentary champagne and punch.
Iron Horse Hotel
Starting at 9:00 p.m., DJ Codebreaker will set up shop in the Iron Horse’s atrium, and the booze will flow.
If class is what you crave, head on over to the Jazz Estate at 10 p.m. and ring in the New Year with Neil Davis and his quartet.
Our friends at Mad Planet are promising a retro dance party with music from the ’80s and ’90s. Complimentary party favors, champagne, toast, and food round out the bill.
The Miramar’s got a doozie this year. Promising circus arts, novelty variety acts, human oddities, sideshow stunts, magic, illusion, vaudevillian comedy, fire dance, burlesque, acrobatics, and a “display of spectacular wonders,” the Dead Man’s Carnival is sure to be one of the weirdest ways to spend your New Year’s Eve. Come on down with $10 at 8 p.m. if you want in.
Run down the clock with another Milwaukee New Year’s tradition almost as beloved as The Globetrotters: Jim Gaffigan! The show (the last of Gaffigan’s three-night Milwaukee stint) starts at 9 p.m.
Potawatomi Bingo Casino
The always-reliable BoDeans will be staying in the town that loves them the most, playing at Potawatomi’s Northern Lights Theatre at 10 p.m.
The Rave will have more flashing colors and dubstep than you can shake a glow stick at. Brought to you by Disco Donnie and Stellar Spark Events, Stellar Spark 10 will feature Canadian dubsteppers Excision and Datsik, scary-masked DJ Bl3nd, and a band actually called Bro Safari.
Trinity Three Irish Pub
Swing down to Trinity to see The Kingfish perform live at 10:30 p.m., with DJ Jimmy Mak showing up later.
Turner Hall Ballroom
Get down with The Get Down at Turner Hall at 9 p.m.
$75 will get you access to an open bar, champagne, appetizers, shuttle-service, a hotel discount, and the good fortune of being present for not one but three balloon drops. Doors open at 8 p.m., with music by the Katie Scullin Duo, Mighty Thor, Chris V, Vinnie Toma, and Faux Noir.