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Foundation Bar, Milwaukee, WI (bar)

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Name:Foundation Bar
Street:2718 N Bremen St.
Phone:(414) 374-2587

Tiki Bar in Milwaukee, WI.

I searched for the Foundation Bar in Locating Tiki and did not find it. Perhaps I missed it as it has been the subject of posts in other forums over the years. I want to make sure it has an entry in Locating Tiki since I just visited it and was very impressed by the decor and drinks. I live in northern California and have visited Smuggler's Cove, Forbidden Island, both NorCal Trader Vic's and the Tonga Room several times. I've also just visited PKNY in Manhattan.

In a comparison of the decor of Tiki Bars (excluding Trader Vic's and the Tonga Room, which are higher class establishments), the Foundation Bar is tops with me. It is filled with iconic Tiki symbols, no TV, dark and moody and has the escapist ambiance to which all great Tiki Bars aspire. From what I've read on TikiCentral, they have been evolving for 6-7 years and if you haven't visited recently and are ever in the Milwaukee area you should definitely check it out. Having visited only once I can't give a more detailed description of the decor. Hopefully a regular will chime in. I have no connection to the Foundation Bar and am just giving my objective opinion.

I tasted the Lava Bowl, Mai Tai, Zombie, Jet Pilot and Rum Barrel. All but the Lava Bowl were great. They were close runner's up to the Smuggler's Cove and Forbidden Island drinks of the same name but significantly cheaper. Any Milwaukee area readers should definitely patronize the Foundation Bar as you have a hidden jewel in your midst!

Surprised this one is not on Locating Tiki yet.

I have this postcard.

Looks like fun. Wished I had known about this place the last time I was in Milwaukee.


and this topic can't go too far without mentioning that our own Lake Surfer is the prime mover for creating the majority of the tiki decor at this location.

The photos on their web site don't do the decor justice. I guess it is impossible to capture ambiance in a photo. There is iconic imagery throughout the entire facility but the bar area is the focus. The further back in the building you walk the darker it gets, but I felt compelled to explore, even though it took a minute or two for my eyes to adjust. It added to the mystery and escapist sensation. It was hard to believe that I was just in a neighborhood bar in Milwaukee rather than exploring a remote south seas island with headhunters hot on my trail. I practically had to walk by feel rather than sight.

My only criticism is that I found two unplugged video games in the short hall to the restroom. Plugging them in would totally destroy the atmosphere! I suggest replacing them with life size tikis of course! Fumbling around on the way to the restroom and unexpectedly encountering them would be a trip.


[ Edited by: Bail Tekey 2011-08-03 18:02 ]


On 2011-08-03 17:52, Bail Tekey wrote:
Visited the Foundation for happy hour tonight. Kind of a covert mission, the jet pilot was great and i have to give props to a local artist by the name of Lake Surfer..... Great work! Havent been for about a year and the progress is stunning!

[ Edited by: Bail Tekey 2011-08-03 18:01 ]

Me and my wife went to the Foundation Bar at the beginning of the summer. We needed to fly into Milwaukee because it saved us like $300 over flying into Green Bay. We had to go to a funeral in upper Michigan, and my wifes family is from Green Bay.

Anyway, we tried out the Sardine Can in Green Bay, because yelp/google said it was a tiki bar. THE SARDINE CAN IT NOT A TIKI BAR. They had a sign up that said no 3 or more ingredient drinks. So we left there and went to the martini bar Top Hat I think. Much better and they had a few tiki drinks there.

We had a little bit of time on our way back to stop at the Foundation Bar. I am really glad that we did! It was in a strange neighborhood for a tiki bar, but that doesn't matter. We got there right when they were opening. The decor was very cool! I liked what they did with the bamboo on the windows. It was kind of like bars, but it went really well with the rest of the place. We sat at the bar and I ordered the strongest drink right away. I forget the name though, sorry. But it was good and strong as promised. I had a Mai Tai as well which was very good and I judge harshly. I almost didn't have one but the bartender convinced me. It had a big sprig of mint and was strong and refreshing!

The bartender was very nice and chatted with us for quite awhile. We were sitting at the bar and it turned out that the person next to me used to be the bartenders teacher. We chatted with him for a bit and we let them know that we were huge tiki fans. The bartender actually gave us a couple of their bar glasses for the road. They are really cool double old fashioned that are similar to Trader Vic's. They have black ink and they say Foundation Bar on them with designs on the top and bottom. We only had an hour or so, so after the 2 drinks I had a hefty buzz going and I regret not giving her an extra tip for the glasses. Hopefully I tipped well enough before!

So they really made us feel at home. If this place was anywhere in SoCal, we would have it as a weekly meeting spot for sure! I wish we had a bar like this in San Diego. If you are ever in the area for any reason, you must stop at the Foundation Bar! I didn't see any video games, but you will never hear me saying anything bad about video games. I guess they took them out.

So if you are in the midwest or travelling through or have a layover in Milwaukee, take my advice and check this place out. I like it better than Psycho Suzi's in Minneapolis. I am sure that you will like it too!

I was just in a neighborhood bar in Milwaukee rather than exploring a remote south seas island with headhunters hot on my trail..., I practically had to walk by feel rather than sight...

Well for a first post ,I have no idea what your talking about?


On 2012-09-27 00:03, harrybro wrote:
I was just in a neighborhood bar in Milwaukee rather than exploring a remote south seas island with headhunters hot on my trail..., I practically had to walk by feel rather than sight...


JOHN-O posted on Tue, Oct 2, 2012 1:17 PM

So for those of you familiar with The Exotics surf band from this year's Tiki Oasis and SG101 Convention, 2011 Hukilau, and a 2010 West Coast tour... the drummer Don Nelson owns the Foundation Bar !! He's a super cool guy. :)

I thought that fact should be noted on this thread.

Yet another link between Tiki culture and Surf Music culture !!

thanks for posting that John O


John-O, that is very cool info...
He really has a great bar. I hope I am in the area again so I can go back someday.

Looks like from that picture that they have a "Safe House" sticker. That is a bar in Milwaukee as well I believe. Does he own that bar as well, or is that sticker something totally unrelated?

I haven't been on TC in awhile but stopped through Milwaukee last week, bought this fine mug at The Foundation and thought I'd share a photo. I loved the place not just for what it has - lots of cool d├ęcor - but what it doesn't: TV sets.

I can't say enough about the Foundation; just love that place, and Don is a great guy. I think it falls under the radar for a lot of tiki folks, but I'm telling you they get the drinks right. (and the decor and music!) Rum Barrel is fantastic; 151 Swizzle (off the "special menu") is served in a metal cup, made with real Lemon Hart 151 and tastes a LOT like the Mai Kai version. The Jet Pilot is phenomenal. And they really do have the best Mai Tais in Milwaukee. For me it's a must stop every time I'm nearby. I usually like the 1-2 punch of a night at Three Dots and a Dash followed by a night at the Foundation on the way back home.

Hamo posted on Mon, May 15, 2017 10:27 PM

When my sister and my friend/her boyfriend took a trip to Milwaukee last weekend, I asked them to go to Foundation for me. They and their hosts (Milwaukee locals who had never been) really enjoyed themselves, and their pictures looked great. My jealousy was curbed when they brought me back this mermaid mug (even though it's "generic"):

Now I need to plan my own trip....

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