Only in Milwaukee can you walk into a Tiki bar wearing a dirndl, and no one bats an eye. My guy and I were in Wisconsin, where we spent the day at GermanFest drinking beer and visiting with friends, and needed rum to cap off the day. The Foundation Tiki Bar, Milwaukee ended up being everything we love in a Tiki Bar! Fabulous atmosphere, tasty drinks, a knowledgeable bartender, cool mugs and a great crowd.
Foundation Tiki Bar, Milwaukee
The Foundation Tiki bar didn’t look that far from the fest grounds, but I’ve never been in Milwaukee before, and we were totally at the mercy of our Uber driver… When she started driving us down a residential street, I got a bit nervous. Then we we arrived. Huh… this is it? From the outside… House.
But then you step inside… and it’s magical.
Take a look at this–> Inside the Foundation Tiki Bar
Dimly lit by Tapa cloth lamps and colorful fishing net floats, the Foundation Bar is absolutely enchanting. The space itself is longish and narrow. The well stocked bar runs down around 1/3 of the left side of the room. High tables and bar stools make up the front seating area… and in the back there is a bigger “family style” booth. I was also intrigued to see a Ladies only room… curtained off by strings of beads.
Tikis, masks, paintings and photos, puffer fish made from coconuts, fishing nets, starfish, funky woven monkeys, wooden boats and tiki-style carvings covered the walls and ceilings. Every post was carved into a sort of Tiki Totem Pole. The bar shelves were worked with Polynesian style carvings. There was even a fish tank! My head was on a swivel trying to take it all in. There was SOOOO much to look at.
Foundation Bar Drink Menu
But, we weren’t just there to stare at the walls… after a day of beer, sausage and polka music, we needed to be swept off to a South Sea Island, or at the very least, have a tropical drink with a fair amount of rum in it. The menu at Foundation Tiki Bar is fairly complete with all the classics like a 1944 Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, Fog Cutter and Scorpion Bowl. And we were in Tiki Heaven when we found out that we could order a few special drinks in mugs… and take the mugs home.(And the prices! WOW! I could get into some serious trouble here).
The Pirate’s Grog and the Royal Hawaiian (shades of my 1977 vacation) were not only delicious, they came in groovy containers! The big surprise was the Polynesian… I’m not normally a Gin drinker, but for this refreshing potion, I was happy to make the exception. (Oddly enough, the top selling drink in the place… at least while we were sitting there… seems to be a Blue Hawaiian… Again, shades of 1977..) The bar also carries a nice selection of Rums…so if you are a purist, you are in luck!
Our Bartender knew his craft, so when you order a your drink, you can be assured that it will be a good one. Plus he’s got some good stories to tell…so if you don’t want to hide in a corner, pull up a stool at the bar! If nothing else, you can watch the fishies swimming in their tank, and imagine you are underwater.
The music is a mix of exotica and surf music… kept at just the right level for conversation. I can see why locals would enjoy this place so much. It’s like a private home Tiki Bar. Drop in, have a drink and a conversation, enjoy the music…. perfect!
While Wisconsin might not jump into your mind as a Tiki Destination… I firmly believe that the Foundation Tiki Bar belongs on any Tiki Road trip. (Even if you are wearing a Dirndl…)