Every place in the United States honors Election day in their own fashion. In the presidential candidates’ home states of Arizona and Illinois, the fever was higher than usual. Not too far from the borders of Illinois, the people of Wisconsin decided to celebrate the day with one of their own long-time traditions: drinking.
In Milwaukee, home to United States first breweries (which to this day include Miller), restaurants, bars and pubs promoted election night with their classical pitches. For instance, you could venture to the Palomino, a pub that buys your first drink as long as you come in with your “I voted” sticker. The pub boasted constant election coverage, loud arguing and “tons of sexy leftists.”
Mugshotz in the suburb of West Allis had a more conservative base, but was still part of the fray. It offered its customers a free drink with the “I voted sticker.” The bartender Mary poured cocktails and beers alike to people as they came into the bar, all glued to the big-screen coverage of the Election results.
The invitations were quite diverse in their pitch and presentation. The Ale House hosted their regular swing dancing for customers in conjunction with election-style promotions. You could get a free pint of beer in an establishment that boasted to its customers, “No hanging chads here…JUST VOTE and keep your conscience clear!” Men and women danced to the 1940s and 50s, while glancing up at the big screen coverage of 2008.
But in the end, Wisconsin went blue, and the drinking specials appeared to mirror the political turn. You could travel to Riverwest’s Art Bar on 722 E. Burleigh Street to watch the election coverage and “gulp down a free shot every time a state turns blue.” And at the end of the night, you could fill your stomach with a free cheeseburger (or veggie burger) at Bella’s Bay View with the “I Voted” sticker.
It was a political pub crawl through Milwaukee and people were out in large numbers. This was perhaps the one night in decades that a FIB (the infamous Wisconsinite’s acronym for Illinois people) was greeted with open arms throughout the state. Wisconsin ended up going blue that night– with over 56% voting for Obama. And while the state went blue that night, it would not be a shock to hear that a great many people woke up with some “blue” hangovers.
This commentary was written with help from John Laczkowski, a native of Milwaukee