Sophie Bolich

‘The Estate’ Will Reopen Feb. 10

Dropping 'Jazz' from its name, East Side bar returns with new look, menu and less live jazz.

By - Feb 8th, 2023 01:48 pm
The Estate, 2423 N. Murray Ave. Photo taken Feb. 8, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

The Estate, 2423 N. Murray Ave. Photo taken Feb. 8, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

After a month-long transformation, The Jazz Estate is set to reintroduce itself to the East Side on Friday, Feb. 10, with a new name and an expanded menu of imaginative craft cocktails.

Upon its return, the bar, 2423 N. Murray Ave., will be called simply The Estate, dropping “Jazz” from its name. And though it may seem that the change marks a departure from the jazz bar’s roots, owner John Dye said in fact, the opposite is true.

“It’s actually always been The Estate,” he said. “Even the original sign says The Estate, but The Jazz Estate became sort of a nickname. We want to honor the history with jazz and live music, but we also want to hit on the history of the business, the building and the space.”

As the name suggests, the cocktail lounge will be reducing its live jazz offerings moving forward, though the change won’t be forever, Dye assured customers.

“Live music will definitely be returning, but more on a limited basis,” he said. “We’re working on that for the future in a way to make it sustainable.”

He also confirmed that the establishment’s Charlie Brown Christmas program will return in December 2023.

For now, the emphasis is on the bar’s revamped and expanded menu — which incorporates more than 12 house-made syrups, reductions and distillations.

The new menu features a diverse range of more than 20 cocktails, with something for every palate. Guests can expect all the basics, along with a selection of unique house creations featuring uncommon additions such as herbes de Provence syrup.

The menu also includes several non-alcoholic cocktail options.

“We spent a lot of time and thought a lot about making a varied menu and especially what would taste good for non-alcoholic selections that isn’t just super sweet juice flavors,” said Noah Witt, a bartender and cocktail connoisseur at The Estate.

One non-alcoholic option, It’s Always Sunny in MKE, is infused with flavors from house-made kola nut orgeat or syrup. A conversation with a customer about the flavor of Dr. Pepper prompted Witt to create the syrup, which he described as earthy and complex, with a subtle sweetness and bitter finish.

The Seavey Import, an alcoholic cocktail named for a notorious Great Lakes pirate, is a gin-based drink with kola orgeat, kola and cinnamon syrup and bitters.

Another option, The Resurrection, is a hot drink that incorporates a savory reduction of red wine and peppercorn, which Witt postulates would taste equally good poured over a pork chop as it does in the drink.

“With some of the cocktails, we’re trying to take an approach that is almost food-like in flavor,” he said.

In creating the new menu, Witt and fellow bartender Cam McKenzie also took steps to reduce food waste. In the past, lemons and lime peels were used for garnish, but the juice came from a bottle, Witt said.

Now, the bar uses a technique that they call “super juice.” The multi-step process includes the use of citric and malic acid to extract flavor from the citrus peels, while the peeled fruit is juiced, diluted and strained.

As for the bar’s interior, the cozy, retro-chic design is much the same. The bar received a deep clean, as well as additional seating and several new artworks.

“The Estate is a beautiful space, and we really wanted to keep that richness and that lounge-like feeling that it’s always had,” said Dye.

When The Estate reopens Friday at 5 p.m., guests will be able to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of the updated cocktail lounge while enjoying a set from DJ Fuzzy Logic, who will be spinning from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. Food carry-ins are welcome.

Those looking to kick off the weekend early can head to Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, 1579 S. 9th St. on Thursday evening for a sneak preview of select cocktails from The Estate’s new menu. The preview will take place inside the bar’s Velvet Lounge room from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., while supplies last. There is no cover charge and reservations are not accepted.

Dye, a cocktail expert and history enthusiast, also owns Bryant’s and At Random, 2501 S. Delaware Ave. The latter is also in transition. In the coming months, the aluminum and asphalt siding that has covered the building for close to 90 years will be removed. The old-fashioned tiki bar will remain open throughout the process.

Starting Feb. 10, The Estate will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.


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3 thoughts on “‘The Estate’ Will Reopen Feb. 10”

  1. says:

    This is a disaster for live jazz. A real loss. Do we really need another bougie high end cocktail lounge?

  2. 45 years in the City says:

    I’ve been an occasional customer of the Estate since it opened circa 1978. In that time, I can count at least 4 owners. One owner I got to know well tried to book as many national acts as possible. Regretfully this wasn’t sustainable in Milwaukee as people balked at the required cover charge for this caliber of entertainment in a small club.

    A recent booking of a national act was reduced from two shows to one due to lack of ticket sales.

    For many years Milwaukee was lucky to have an abundance of jazz performers who were well known beyond the jazz community (Berkeley Fudge, for example). These performers could (and did) fill clubs like the estate.

    No one person or circumstance is to blame: aging of the audience, lack of music education, lack of advertising, the spartan amenities of a small jazz club, the economy, COVID, etc.

  3. Polaris says:

    @45 years – I’m monitoring a huge jazz aficionado but your post instantly reminded me of the great WFMR do, Ron Cuzner…welcome to…The Dark Side…

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