Food & Drink

Milwaukee's 10 Best Bloody Marys

Published On 05/05/2015 Published On 05/05/2015
Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

Anyone can pour store-bought Bloody Mary mix from a bottle, but not everyone can concoct an amazing tomato-based vodka drink from scratch that doesn’t taste like ketchup mixed with Gordon’s. We love our Bloodys in Milwaukee, and there are as many house Bloody mix recipes as there are bars and restaurants that serve them. Here's where to find the 10 best Bloody Marys in MKE.

Courtesy of Scott Starr/Lowlands Group

Cafe Benelux

Third Ward
If you can’t decide on a drink from the 30+ page beer menu, then pick from the Bloody Mary list. It’ll narrow your choices down to eight. Cafe Benelux has different garnishes and types of alcohol, from local Kinnickinnic whiskey, to chipotle and horseradish-infused vodka. The Southsider is a classic with peppercorn-infused vodka, the savory house mix, extra hot sauce, and jalapeno-stuffed olives. It’s got just enough kick to wake you up in the morning.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

Oscar’s Pub and Grill

Mitchell Park
This hopping bar has people clamoring for its Bloodys almost as much as its burgers. It goes through 10 gallons of its Bloody mix on Sundays, and with its generous vodka pours, that's roughly a metric ton of drinks. It’s easy to see why though: the mix is thick, smooth, and balanced with just enough tang. The squishy ball of fresh mozzarella and crispy slice of bacon help offset the abundant vodka.

Courtesy of Front Room Photography/Camp Bar

Camp Bar

Shorewood, Wauwatosa
It makes sense that the "up North" themed bar has a great Bloody, since drinking is just as much a sport as hunting. You can get two sizes, but you should choose the 22-ouncer because it goes down smooth. It's a classic Bloody, with hints of good stuff like black pepper, celery salt, and Worcestershire. Appropriately, it comes with a Rhinelander Shorty chaser in case the taxidermied raccoons rowing a canoe don’t hit you over the head with the cabin theme.

Courtesy of Sara Laev/Ray’s Growler Gallery

Ray’s Growler Gallery and Wine Bar

Parkway Estates
This bar is connected to a popular wine and liquor store, and it serves homemade Bloodys on weekends with chasers you can choose from its taps. The mix includes a hefty amount of hot sauce, pickle juice, and the secret ingredient (shhh!) lemon pepper, which gives it an extra citrus punch.

Courtesy of Joe Sorge/AJ Bombers

AJ Bombers

Juneau Town
Everything about this Bloody Mary screams "burger," from the secret Bomber sauce and mustard in the mix, to the little burger snack on top. Strips of the restaurant’s thin burger patties sandwich a hunk of gooey muenster cheese, and then the whole shebang gets wrapped in bacon. If you start your lunch off with one of these, you may not have room for a burger. Maybe.

Courtesy of Club Charlies

Club Charlies

Third Ward
This little bar and restaurant often flies under the radar, but it's got a loyal following. In addition to its tasty mix with lots of horseradish, it infuses its vodka with veggies and spices for extra oomph. Garnishes are simple to let the drink shine, and include a piece of beef stick, pepper jack cheese, a pickle, and blue cheese-stuffed olives.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

County Clare

Yankee Hill
A Bloody this good deserves a regal goblet. The mix includes Clamato juice, but don’t worry, it doesn’t impart fishiness like you’d expect. What it does do is lighten the mix so you can drink more than one of these behemoths, and you’ll want to. Who knew a Bloody Mary could be so refreshing? The large glass has plenty of room for a substantial garnish of a full beef stick, string cheese, and best of all, homemade pickled red potato. This is an Irish pub and inn after all.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist    

Lobby Lounge at the Pfister

Juneau Town
You might just ignore the lounge and bar in the lobby of this storied hotel, but this bar has a secret named Valerie. She’s been perfecting her Bloody recipe behind the bar here for over 30 years, and it shows. It’s got just the right blend of spices without being overpowering, and lots of citrus to brighten it up. Sometimes, there’s a habanero-infused mix, and if you’re a fan of heat, don’t miss that one. Dip the large chilled shrimp in your drink, and you won’t need that overpriced shrimp cocktail at dinner.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

Smyth

Walker’s Point
The Bloody Mary at the bar inside the Iron Horse Hotel is just as bold as its Harley-riding clientele. It’s got a lot going on, including horseradish, steak sauce, and Guinness in an assertive mix with lots of spices floating around in it. Sundays during brunch there’s a Bloody Mary cart that rolls around, spreading joy in the form of vodka and beef sticks.

Lacey Muszynski/Thrillist

The Wicked Hop

Third Ward
The most noticeable feature of the Bloody at The Wicked Hop is the Medusa-like crown of mozzarella whips. They’re fun to eat, but the it’s the perky mix that keeps people coming back for more. There are a lot of flavors going on, and it’s a little reminiscent of BBQ sauce. If you’re here with your five best friends, order The "Glass" Slipper, a 96oz plastic boot glass of Bloody, complete with garnishes and six chasers.

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Lacey Muszynski is a Milwaukee food writer who doesn’t think there’s a place in this world for plain tomato juice. Follow her on Twitter @worthhersalt.
 

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Cafe Benelux 346 N Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Cafe Benelux is big on beer and Belgians. It's got 30 drafts, a few of which are brewed exclusively for the bar at Brouwerij Van Steenberge in Belgium, and nearly 200 bottles available at the rooftop deck-equipped spot on the Northern edge of the Third Ward. Food options are plentiful, but don’t underestimate the frites cone with curry ketchup and Sriracha mayo for dipping.

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2. Oscar's Pub & Grill 1712 W Pierce St, Milwaukee, WI 53204

From the quintessential pub ambience (think embossed tin ceiling, neon signs ablaze with familiar beer logos, chalkboard specials, and a warm, cabin-like back dining room) to the creative burger offerings, this is a go-to for those craving a bite in the Mitchell Park area. Regulars flock here for signature dishes like The Big O, a bold Black Angus burger with chipotles, smoked Gouda, hickory bacon, onions, house guacamole, and jalapeños. If you appreciate the spicier things in life, we suggest you try their house Bloody Mary -- in addition to the regular garnishes, it’s also finished off with a pearl of fresh mozzarella and a slice of bacon, proving that you can have it all.

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3. Camp Bar 4044 N Oakland Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211 (Shorewood)

There’s no reason to drive seven hours when a real life Northwoods tavern just happens to be on the near North side of Milwaukee. Camp's appropriate hunting lodge setup includes an abundance of woodwork, a fair amount of taxidermy, and the occasional light fixture made out of antlers. The Old Fashioned is the drink of choice here and during the football season it’s hard to find a better place in town to watch the Packers. Ya der hey.

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4. Ray’s Growler Gallery and Wine Bar 8930 W. North Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53226

This bar is connected to a popular wine and liquor store, and it serves homemade Bloodys on weekends with chasers you can choose from its taps. The mix includes a hefty amount of hot sauce, pickle juice, and the secret ingredient (shhh!) lemon pepper, which gives it an extra citrus punch.

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5. AJ Bombers 1247 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (East Side)

From the hanging, jumbo renderings of the bomber airplane toy you had as a child to the peanut-strewn floor and the Sharpie-scribbled walls, there’s a whimsical breed of anarchy to AJ Bombers. Regulars frequent this casual Juneau Town spot to watch televised sports with groups of friends or if they’re craving an infamous Barrie burger (a ¼lb patty topped with thick-cut bacon, American cheese, and chunky peanut butter). Just make sure you don’t forget the cheddar cheese curds -- fried fresh to order and accompanied by a side of chipotle mayo, they’re some of Wisconsin’s finest.

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6. Club Charlies 320 E Menomonee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Third Ward)

This little bar and restaurant often flies under the radar, but it's got a loyal following. In addition to its tasty mix with lots of horseradish, it infuses its vodka with veggies and spices for extra oomph. Garnishes are simple to let the drink shine, and include a piece of beef stick, pepper jack cheese, a pickle, and blue cheese-stuffed olives.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. County Clare Irish Inn & Pub 1234 N Astor St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

County Clare's Bloody deserves a regal goblet. The mix includes Clamato juice, but don’t worry, it doesn’t impart fishiness like you’d expect. What it does do is lighten the mix so you can drink more than one of these behemoths, and you’ll want to. Who knew a Bloody Mary could be so refreshing? The large glass has plenty of room for a substantial garnish of a full beef stick, string cheese, and best of all, homemade pickled red potato. This is an Irish pub and inn after all.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Lobby Lounge at the Pfister 424 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202

You might just ignore the lounge and bar in the lobby of this storied hotel, but this bar has a secret named Valerie. She’s been perfecting her Bloody recipe behind the bar here for over 30 years, and it shows. It’s got just the right blend of spices without being overpowering, and lots of citrus to brighten it up. Sometimes, there’s a habanero-infused mix, and if you’re a fan of heat, don’t miss that one. Dip the large chilled shrimp in your drink, and you won’t need that overpriced shrimp cocktail at dinner.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Smyth 500 W Florida St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Walkers Point)

Smyth is located in the Iron Horse, a surprisingly chic hotel catering to Harley-Davidson riders who visit the museum just down the street. Like everything in the building, the food is themed around biker culture, in this case historic highway Route 66. It’s a little campy, but who cares, because there's a buffet at brunch and plated American fare day long.

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10. The Wicked Hop 345 N Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Third Ward)

Be prepared to discover some wickedly unique dishes and drinks at The Wicked Hop, including its notable Bloody Mary with a Medusa-like crown of mozzarella whips. They’re fun to eat, but the it’s the perky mix that keeps people coming back for more. There are a lot of flavors going on, and it’s a little reminiscent of BBQ sauce.

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