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Can’t-Miss Souvenirs

Milwaukee is justifiably famous for its handcrafted beers and locally made bratwurst—but if you’re looking for a souvenir of your visit, there are plenty of other fabulous ideas where those came from. From stylish men’s shoes to stunning stained glass, check out these 12 homegrown finds, and take a little piece of Cream City home with you.

Eat & Drink
Long a local favorite, the Spice House always delivers fresh herbs and spices, along with custom flavors to brighten up your cuisine. The Jumbo Ethnic Milwaukee variety package ($45.95) includes 10 different blends, each fashioned according to a local ethnic neighborhood. We love Old World Third Street—made from 31 ingredients, including sweet Hungarian paprika, garlic and Tellicherry black pepper.

You can’t visit Milwaukee without indulging in Wisconsin’s favorite snack: cheese. And there’s no better place than the Wisconsin Cheese Mart on Old World Third Street, which claims to have the “world’s largest selection of Wisconsin cheese.” You decide, after perusing the 175 flavors of wheels and wedges—and tasting them at the cheese bar, where you can pair your picks with wine or beer before wrapping up a hunk to go. The popular Artisan selection ($64) makes it easy to choose: 2.5 pounds of six Wisconsin farms cheeses, including the award-winning Gouda Marieke, a full-flavored, nutty cheese with crunchy bits of aged texture; and Dante Aged Sheep’s Milk, fresh from naturally grain-fed Wisconsin sheep.

Sure, you’ll want to toss back a few beers while in Milwaukee, but you’ll crave it again when you get home. So we say take a few with you. The Milwaukee Ale House offers six brews (sometimes more), all made on-site or at its new facility on Second Street. You can have a great meal, listen to live music, and then purchase six-packs of your favorite, like the flagship brand, Louie’s Demise ($8 per six-pack), a richly flavored amber whose name was inspired by an 1886 bar brawl.

In an old limestone Wisconsin wool mill from the 1860s, Cedar Creek Winery produces wines that are barrel-aged in a cool stone cellar. They use Vitis Vinefera grape varieties purchased from Washington, California or New York—think Chardonnay, Cabernet and Syrah—and French-American hybrids grown in Cedar Creek’s own Prairie du Sac vineyard along the Wisconsin River. Tour the winery, sample a few wines, and take home your favorite, like the award-winning Vidal (from $8.50 per bottle), a semi-dry white.

Feel like something a little stronger? Hemingway fans take note: Though absinthe was banned in the U.S. from 1912 to 2007 because the wormwood it’s derived from was thought to cause madness, it turns out that distilling wormwood makes it harmless—so Great Lakes Distillery does just that. Wisconsin’s first active distillery since Prohibition, Great Lakes was founded in 2004 and recently created the smooth, fennel-flavored Amerique 1912 Absinthe, based on a pre-ban recipe. Owner Guy Rehorst recommends drinking the 126-proof spirit as part of a cocktail, such as Great Lakes’ Corpse Reviver #2, which mixes gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice and just a dash of the absinthe.

Style Central
Milwaukee men know that some of the finest shoes around are made just up the road in Port Washington at the Allen Edmonds Factory. The six stylish designs of the Executive Collection ($285) feature 270-degree welted heel construction for a slimmer look. Added bonus: Each Allen Edmonds shoe in this line can be re-crafted, meaning that a pair of shoes you absolutely love can be made to look like new after years of wear.

Milwaukee architect and stained glass artist Michael Hecker has poured his creative energies into his tiny Oxford Studios—as well as into many historic Milwaukee homes. On a visit to Hecker’s East Side atelier, you can design your own stained glass art, have one custom designed or purchase something in stock, such as a 12-by-30-inch panel of irises.