In Bars & Clubs

Prepare for paddle parties. (PHOTO:

Hey, PaddleTavern: Here are 5 things we've learned from the Pedal Tavern

The PaddleTavern will dock in Milwaukee this summer, offering a two-hour cruise in a foot-powered pontoon boat for up to 14 people at a time. It will leave from The Harp Irish Pub, 113 E. Juneau Ave., and travel down the Milwaukee River, stopping at slips at Rock Bottom Brewery, Milwaukee Ale House and anywhere else on the route that customers want to go.

Guests are invited to bring their own beverages and coolers onto the boat if they want to drink between bars.

The PaddleTavern was created by Redmond Tuttle from Milwaukee and Minnesota's Ryan Jaeger who also operates the PaddleTap, a pontoon paddle-boat on Lake Minnetonka outside of Minneapolis.

PaddleTavern, however, is not to be confused with the Milwaukee PedalTavern, a 16-person "bicycle-powered party on wheels," that takes groups of people to multiple bars in the Third Ward and Walker's Point.

Since its inception about seven years ago, the Pedal Tavern received mixed reviews. Some find them to be a hinderance to traffic and that the peddlers can be obnoxious – yelling at passersby and throwing garbage from the moving tavern.

Others recognize the Pedal Tavern as, literally and figuratively, a vehicle that offers a new twist on bar hopping, a unifying experience between friends, family or coworkers, and a business-boomer for the Walker's Point and Third Ward entertainment districts.

Regardless of where one stands on the Pedal Tavern issue, here are five things that we learned from the Pedal Tavern NOT to do on the PaddleTavern:

  1. Unless it's "hello" or "ahoy" or some greeting equivalent, do not yell anything at other boaters passing by. How about just a wave? A wave is good.
  2. Keep your empties in the boat. Fish don't have a taste for Miller Lite. Or Bud Light (although they might enjoy a Flying Fish now and again – ba dum dum). So just crush 'em and keep 'em on deck. It's not a perfect river, but it's our river, and the last thing it needs is more discarded cans or cigs.
  3. Find the sweet spot between buzzed and "man overboard." Obviously this is a party-hardy experience and one that will be extremely popular with drinking-focused celebrations including bachelor/bachelorette parties and birthdays. But nobody wants to find themselves a "floater" or worse …
  4. Tip your bartenders heavily. The PaddleTavern will bring a boatload of business to many bars on the river's edge, but remember, the bartenders work their anchors off when a paddle group arrives. So don't act like a drunken sailor, but tip like one.
  5. Don't be that guy. Whether on land or water, drunk or not drunk, just don't be "that guy" who thinks the world is a disco from the '70s at bar time. Have fun, be safe and above all, be respectful of our river and all of the beauty around it.


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