The Essen

514 E Wilson St
Madison, Wisconsin


Bottles and Cans Classic Cocktails Draught Beer Craft Beer Live Music

This bar conforms with the screenless charter


The qualification of this bar is suspect

Although many stateside Oktoberfestivites pay great homage to the one and only, they only a last a week or two. The Essen House however, is open damn near everyday, polka band and all. To fully describe the beirhall would require more words than I have command of so I will do my best to sum it up. The space, decorated in the Germanic style of dark woods and stucco, occupies two levels, one a few feet above the other. Chandeliers hang over the main floor where the band, in full Deutsch regalia, plays from an elevated stage in the north corner. Its fiefdom of long tables and deep booths spread out southward and eventually climb to the elevated level which offers not only a little protection from the beir spiele but also a superb view of the band and its subjects on the dance floor.

The bar hides in its cavern to the west and pours not only a delicious variety of German bier but also many fantastic local brews and upon request a round of Jagermeister or two. There are many traditions at The Essen House so try to keep up. Upon securing seating, order a glass boot full of traditional German beir.

Tradition Number 1. Das Boot must not touch or be set on the table
Tradition Number 2. Das Boot be drunk with the toe pointed out/up
Tradition Number 3. Das Boot must be passed around the table and shared with all
Tradition Number 4. Das Boot must be flicked before it is passed to the next person
Tradition Number 5. The person to drink from Das Boot before the person who finishes it has to buy the next Boot.
Tradition Number 6. Once Das Boot is down to a level where someone might ingest all the remaining bier during their turn, other people at the table must initiate the ceremonial table pounding to encourage the player. Other patrons at the Essen Haus will also pound on their tables in solidarity.

There are many other traditions and quirks to be enjoyed here so bring your adventurous spirit and don't forget your polka shoes.

Comments (4)

  • Caitlin vouched for The Essen Haus

  • Katy vouched for The Essen Haus

  • Gavin Hussey vouched for The Essen Haus

  • Brian Herold vouched for The Essen Haus