Holler House

(Forest Home Hills, Milwaukee, WI)

Scooter’s 1327th bar, first visited in 2019.

Holler House, Milwaukee

I have been to a ton of dive bars. Up to the point of this writing, I had been to previously been to 826 different dive bars. Of those, 71 have been so good that I consider them among my favorites. But it has taken 13 years and 1,252 more bars to unseat my previous greatest dive bar of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I love Zoo Bar and it will remain my home base for as long as it is or I am alive. But it is undeniable, Holler House has stolen the show for the greatest dive bar experience I have ever had the privilege of enjoying.

The first thing that makes this bar unique is that its basement is home to the oldest still-operating officially-sanctioned bowling alley in America. It is two lanes and has no computers or mechanical parts. All scoring is done on hand by paper, and the pins are reset by neighborhood children who work for tips. Unfortunately were were not able to bowl today because, being that it was Sunday morning, there were no children available. However they did happily allow us to go have a look around.

Next up the decor. Very eclectic, very historical. Tons of photos, even a scrap book of the bar’s history. An old piano. Hilarious signs. And bras everywhere! Bras that had been collected and displayed for decades. Several years ago an uptight inspector with too much free time declared them a fire hazard and ordered them removed. They were down for some time before the city finally ruled that the fire hazard notion was ridiculous and allowed them to be put back up.

Our crew had done their homework in advance, so some of the women came ready with an extra bra tucked away. Which turned out to be more fun that expected, because as the woman removes the bra all of the regulars erupting in a humming of a strip tease. Then everyone signs the bar with a sharpie before the patron gets to hang it up. The bra tradition was started in the 1950s/60s as a fluke when the owner had been partying and took her own off. Over a thousand have been collected so far, they are archived after several years when they start to deteriorate so there are hundreds more boxed away than what you see in the bar.

Speaking of the owner, she’s a huge part of what makes this bar great. Her name is Marcy, and when we visited she was 93 years old and sitting next to us yelling at the umpires in the baseball game on TV. Among her hobbies she lists “reading pornography to the blind”.

Also fun — there’s a barrel in the corner full of vintage clothes, hats, and wigs. Donation bin for the needy? Nope, it’s all there for patrons to play dress-up and take pictures with. We had a blast with that.

There’s nothing on tap, but they can whip up just about any mixed drink. The beer selection is limited to bottles and while it’s a small selection, it’s a good mix of both the basics and a few local craft beers. They also try to have Polish beer on hand, which makes sense as this is a Polish bar in a historically Polish neighborhood.

I had a Żywiec (pale lager from Poland) by Grupa Żywiec, a Blatz by Pabst Brewing Company (which I will never have again as it is terrible, but I had to try it once!), and a Fantasy Factory (IPA) by Karben4 Brewing.

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

That’s Marcy, the 93-year-old owner, sitting at the table on the right.
Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee

Holler House, Milwaukee


2042 W Lincoln Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53215
US
[launch map]
(414) 647-9284

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