Review: Shaker’s Cigar Bar dabbles in ghost tours

Shaker’s Cigar Bar
Photo by BRITTANY SEEMUTH

By BRITTANY SEEMUTH

Looking to tempt your thrill of the paranormal outside of Halloween? Shaker’s Cigar Bar caters to the paranormal experience on its haunted ghost tour, which combines its rich history with speculations of its haunted existence.

Shaker’s Cigar Bar is a functioning bar and restaurant located on South 2nd Street in the Walker’s Point area of Milwaukee. Constructed in 1894 as a cooperage house for the Schlitz Brewery, the site of Shaker’s was sold in 1905 and used as a distribution center for the ABC Bottling Company, owned by the infamous Al Capone. Capone operated the soda distribution center out of the site, while simultaneously operating an underground speakeasy and brothel.

First stop on the tour: a walk into the original entranceway of the former speakeasy. This is a small, cramped area with two double doors along the north wall where, as the tour guide informed, a goon would stand at the door and wait for a signal – usually a knock or two – and the phrase, “bottling inspector.” A hole in the ceiling still exists, where one floor above, bordello women would do the can-can to appeal to the gentlemen customers below.

A widely popular and final stop of the tour is the penthouse apartment, located on the third floor of Shaker’s. The master bedroom of this floor holds some spooky history that may leave the stomach a bit uneasy – it is the brutal murder site of a former call girl. The penthouse is rented out overnight to customers of a daring character.

Walking into this classy bar, formerly resident to elite mobsters of the past, visitors do not initially get a spooky feeling. The spookiness is delayed until one heads to the far back area of the bar where the women’s restroom is located. The restroom is said to be the home of the residing ghost, a young girl named Elizabeth who allegedly died on the site centuries ago after falling to her death from an apple orchard on the property.

In the center of the bathroom hangs a portrait of Elizabeth herself. Various dolls and toys are scattered along a mantel in the bathroom for Elizabeth to play with at her leisure. Customers and employees at Shaker’s have recalled hearing a young girl calling out to them from the women’s restroom and ominous knocks on doors at times.

Historians coming to Shaker’s to unearth facts will instead find a solid background and great stories. The tour is not intended to give a history lesson but instead an experience that will not soon be forgotten.

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