Shakers Cigar Bar
Spirits at ‘Milwaukee’s Haunted Bar’ will leave you craving a drink and cigar to calm your nerves
Shakers Cigar Bar
- Disembodied voices and laughter can be heard in the women's bathroom
- A bathroom stall door is said to be opened and closed by unseen forces
- Objects are said to be moved around the penthouse during the night
- Penthouse guests report seeing a woman's apparition
- Uneasy feelings are encountered in the basement
- Doors in the basement reportedly shake uncontrollably and without warning
- A spirit in the basement is said to pull hair and push around a heavy old safe
Shaker’s Cigar Bar History
If you happen upon Shaker’s Cigar Bar during a nighttime stroll of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it wouldn’t be difficult to discern its haunted reputation. With neon-lit ghosts in the windows, and even one on the roof, the phantoms at Shaker’s quite literally beckon passers-by into the tavern.
Even within Shaker’s antique speakeasy interior, ghostly figures can be seen on glasses, on menu boards, and on other promotional material spread throughout the building. But, if the stories about Shaker’s are true, those aren’t the only ghosts you might see during your time there.
From phantom children to paranormal prostitutes, numerous specters supposedly lurk within Shaker’s Cigar Bar.
Timeline of Shakers Cigar Bar's History
Swipe or use timeline points to see Shakers Cigar Bar through the years
The building that’s now Shaker’s Cigar Bar was built in 1894 as a cooperage for the Schlitz Brewing Company. The building was a cooperage for ten years before being sold in 1905 and converted into a coal and oil warehouse.
When Prohibition became law in the late 1910s, the general public’s demand for alcohol never waned, and a market for speakeasies rose up almost overnight. In the early 1920s, the infamous Capone family purchased the former cooperage and converted it into a clandestine watering hole and brothel.
With the brothel taking up the top floor and a ‘soda bottling company’ front business running out of the second floor, the ground floor operated as a secret speakeasy for the city and its surrounding areas. In this era, the front door remained locked and the street-side windows were intentionally darkened with leftover coal dust, so the only speakeasy access was a small alleyway door.
In its speakeasy days, not everything was easy going for the 2nd street operation – at least one prostitute was believed to have been killed there. But, the speakeasy itself managed to avoid being raided throughout Prohibition and opened up as a successful, legal barroom after the alcohol ban was lifted in 1933, and the brothel continued to operate until 1946.
The pub layout of the building remained after this, and several different bar establishments passed through until Shaker’s Cigar Bar was opened in 1986.
As Milwaukee’s only cigar bar, Shaker’s attracted business fast. In its early years, Shaker’s Cigar Bar was said to be a favorite watering hole for serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer before his arrest in 1991. Throughout the 1990s, Shaker’s developed their aesthetic by collecting antique décor from around the city.
Along with finding numerous wall art and heirlooms, Shaker’s was able to refit their ceiling with the stamped tin ceiling from the now-demolished Plankinton Mansion. But soon, Shaker’s restoration projects uncovered something grisly.
During a 2001 renovation of the third-floor penthouse, a collection of bones were found under the floor. An investigation found that some of the bones were human and were over 70 years old, making it possible that these were the bones of the prostitute reportedly murdered in the 1920s.
And, not long after the bones were uncovered, stories began to spread about spiritual activity around Shaker’s. The staff at the pub had been sharing ghost stories since it opened, but the stories gained traction and spread far throughout the 2000s.
Shaker’s Cigar Bar’s Child Spirit
One of the most often encountered spirits at Shaker’s Cigar Bar is the ghost of a little girl named Elizabeth.
It is believed Elizabeth died on the property before the current building was built, after falling out of a tall apple tree. Now, her spirit is often found causing mischief around the women’s bathroom in the main bar.
Bathroom Phantoms at Shaker’s Cigar Bar
Elizabeth’s ghost can be heard whispering and giggling in the bathroom, as well as playing with one stall door in particular.
Visitors often say that this particular stall door will swing open, or be held closed, during use. Others claim that they have had the bathroom sinks turn on and off while they’re alone in the bathroom.
Shaker’s Cigar Bar’s Basement Specters
While Elizabeth’s spirit is said to be upbeat and playful, more sinister energy reportedly lingers down in the building’s basement. Workers who have gone down there often report sudden uneasy feelings that come on without explanation.
Others have claimed to see doors in the basement shake only to find dark, empty rooms on the other side. Visitors down in the basement have also reported that their hair gets pulled by invisible entities.
Additionally, a heavy, antique safe stored down there is said to be moved around by one of the basement spirits, often appearing in new or odd locations despite its size and weight.
Molly, Mysterious Mistress
Up on the top floors around the penthouse, a spirit of a murdered prostitute supposedly lingers. This spirit is known as Molly, for the woman who was recorded as murdered in the 1920s, roughly the same age as the bones found during the renovation in 2001.
While it hasn’t been confirmed the bones belonged to this murdered Molly, many believe her spirit resides up in the penthouse today. Many guests in the penthouse report seeing her apparition appear, while others say she moved objects around the apartment during the night.