REDDIN: Raise the bar for your bars

Because I’m occasionally self-centered and egotistical, I’ve decided you all deserve to know that my 21st birthday is this weekend.

Yes, underagers, you can be jealous.

But as good old Uncle Ben always said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” By “power,” of course, I mean “arts & entertainment column/soapbox,” and by “responsibility,” I mean “obligation to make this about arts & entertainment and not just gloat about my ability to legally purchase alcohol, or I’m fired.”

But don’t worry. I’ve got just the thing that ties into both my pending birthday and my need to focus on the classier side of Milwaukee: bars.

Bars aren’t always something you think of as classy, especially on college campuses like ours. After all, the convenience of Murphy’s Irish Pub and Caffrey’s Pub is certainly appealing, but something tells me you’d be hard-pressed to find someone outside the Marquette area who comes down into our neck of the woods specifically for the purpose of drinking there.

And that’s okay. It’s certainly good to have a few campus bars that are just that — campus bars — especially when the university seems, to some, committed to winnowing them out one by one.

But they shouldn’t be your only option. In case you haven’t noticed, we live in Brew City, and there’s tons of other alternatives to Murph’s and Caff’s I plan to try after this weekend is out.

The variety that’s most appealing right off the bat is the cocktail lounge. There’s only so many times you can watch the clearly blacked-out drunks shuffle down Wells Street without deciding that it might be worthwhile to find an establishment where everyone can enjoy themselves and remember their evening in the morning.

So try out a lounge instead. They might be a little more out of the way than downtown bars — most being in artsier neighborhoods like Bay View or the East Side — but since the point of going to one is to relax and not get entirely plastered anyway, you might actually be able to convince a friend to be your DD for the evening. Add in a variety of flavors and spirits you’d be unlikely to find at your average bar, and the night practically screams adventure.

Or, if you’re a solid beer fan, consider giving something other than “whatever’s on tap” a try and swing by one of Milwaukee’s beer halls. Your options include the Old German Beer Hall on Third Street or the Milwaukee Ale House, down Water Street in the Third Ward. Both of these are also home to live music — although in the case of OGBH, the music in question is polka.

And if you’re really looking for adventure, there’s something to be said for just finding a random hole-in-the-wall bar and dropping in with a few friends. Worst case scenario: The vibe isn’t right, and you end up back on campus. Best case scenario: You and your friends find your own private (bar) Idaho.

Don’t get me wrong. If you were to look for me this weekend, the best place to start would probably be either Murph’s or Caff’s, where you could — if you feel obliged — buy me a drink and tell me how much you enjoy/loathe the column.

But hopefully Future Me won’t always be so easy to find. It’s a big city, and there’s lots of places out there for me to open a tab.