What's more fun than a historic bar? A historic bar with a theme! And that's exactly what we're featuring in our next installment of historic bars -- establishments with kitschy, unusual, and unique calling cards. Next up: Milwaukee's Safe House.
Moveable puzzle tiles on a wall in the Safe House’s interior rearrange themselves with the push of a button.
International spies. Secret missions. Espionage. Codes. Martinis that are shaken, not stirred.
If this all sounds like your idea of a fun Saturday night, head for Milwaukee’s Safe House -- but cover your tracks. The concealed bar and restaurant has been fulfilling patrons’ undercover dreams and serving up Wisconsin favorites like batter-dipped cheese curds since 1966, all under the guise of International Exports, Ltd. Ask a local for the password (you’ll need it after 8 p.m.) and go down an alley and through a nondescript door for a clandestine dining experience.
Once you’ve given the correct password and gained entrance through a secret passage, you'll be met in the Interpol Bar by a truly impressive collection of authentic spy memorabilia gathered by owner, David J. Baldwin over the years. A cell door from an actual KGB prison, a booth that hides diners from sight, and the Unique Martini -- a drink which is shaken (not stirred) by traveling 600 feet around the bar through a pneumatic tube -- are just a few of the distinctive features waiting to be discovered.
Visitors can explore the oak-paneled British Intelligence room and a red Hong Kong-themed section, with bamboo-hung booths modeled on fixtures that Baldwin saw at the Hong Kong Hilton Hotel. Framed James Bond posters line the walls, and signs that point toward “Agent Debriefing,” “CIA Cover Phone,” and other mysterious locations appear around every corner.... Read More →
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Katherine Flynn is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores and uncovering the stories behind historic places. Follow her on Twitter at @kateallthetime.