By Eric Paulsen & Josh Hertzog   Published Jun 18, 2005 at 5:43 AM Photography: Andy Tarnoff

{image1}Noted hangover cure, required brunch beverage and perhaps the best use for tomato juice, the Bloody Mary is one of the most popular mixed drinks in the country. In a drinking town like Milwaukee, that carries a lot of weight.

The debate rages on about the Bloody Mary's origin. Many credit a bartender at Harry's New York Bar -- which ironically was in Paris -- with the drink's creation in the 1920s. However, bars from New York to Chicago to West Palm Beach lay some sort of claim. Most say the drink was named after Queen Mary I, who was called "Bloody Mary" in the 1500s due to her penchant for burning Protestants at the stake; others claim it was named after a girl named Mary who tried the drink and spilled some on her dress. Perhaps nobody wanted to settle the debate because it could have been -- you knew this was coming -- bloody.

At any rate, the Bloody Mary consists of two base ingredients: vodka and tomato juice. The base juice doesn't have to be straight tomato; it can be V-8, Clamato juice, or any other tomato-based variation. Worcestershire sauce, lemon, pepper, Tabasco sauce and celery salt are the most common additional ingredients; from there, all kinds of items can garnish this versatile beverage. They include celery sticks, olives, and various pickled things: asparagus, mushrooms, even, well, pickles.

Creativity comes into play with additional garnishes: spicy Bloodys in Texas often feature jalapenos and sometimes a dash of barbecue sauce; in Wisconsin it's not unusual to find a beef stick hanging out in your glass. Ample research also suggests that the beer chaser tends to be a local thing, too.

So if you're hankering for a (relatively) nutritious alcoholic beverage, here are some locations around town featuring notable Bloody Marys. Since practically every bar serves Bloody Marys, this is very much a partial guide. If you don't find your favorite here, add it to the Comments section so we can all do some "research."

The Art Bar
722 E. Burleigh St., (414) 372-7880

Absolute Vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, A1 steak sauce, Worcester sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper, celery salt and Tabasco sauce all garnished with a lemon wedge, peppers, two olives, sausage, pickle and pickled mushroom.

2022 E. North Ave., (414) 272-7263

Made by request, BBC offers choices with Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, A1 mild or spicy sauce, mushrooms, olives and pickles. Bloody Mary drinkers can decide what goes in or stays out.

Cans Bar and Canteen
1815 E. Kenilworth Pl., (414) 225-0421

Cans offers a Bloody Mary bar with all the fixings you need. It takes place during brunch on Saturdays and Sunday until 5 p.m. You get a cup of vodka and a mix of zing zang, Major Peters or Redeye. From there, you receive tomato juice and a full veggie and garnish bar to add more flavor to your drink.

1240 S. Moorland Rd., Brookfield, (262) 797-6600
5030 S. 74th St., Greenfield, (414) 281-0600

Their "do-it-yourself" bar is no longer with us, but Champps Americana still features the "gi-normous" Bloody Mary, complete with a beef stick, celery stick, carrot, and two blocks of cheese with your choice of vodka. Specials are occasionally offered in conjunction with major sporting events.

Six locations in SE Wisconsin

The Chancery has a well-known and widely-loved Bloody Mary that "skewers" you with a garden veggie kabob, in addition to the beef stick and long stalk of celery. The kabob includes pickles, mushrooms, and even green onion.

Colonel Hart’s
7342 W. State St., Wauwatosa, (414) 476-3070

Colonel Hart’s features $4 Bloody Marys on Sundays. Enjoy as you read the slew of newspaper articles posted on the walls and the ceiling.

County Clare
1234 N. Astor St., (414) 272-5273

County Clare puts the biggest effort in the basics, mixing V-8 and Clamato with the vodka, adding just the right amount of hot sauce for that extra "zing". Along with the lime, lemon and olive garnishes, County Clare tops it off with a Usinger beef sausage.

Guitar Bar
1139 N. Water St., (414) 277-9878

Vodka, tomato juice, pickle juice, pickles, olives and what the bar calls its "special seasonings."

Harp Irish Pub
113 E. Juneau Ave., (414) 289-0700

The Harp uses its own Bloody Mary mix, made lovingly by Ethan in-house. Additions to the Harp's version include steak sauce, Grey Poupon mustard, horseradish, cayenne pepper and Lowry's seasoning salt, among others.

Harry's Bar and Grill
3549 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood, (414) 964-6800

Looking for a good Bloody Mary special close to UWM or the North Shore? Harry's offers $2.50 Bloody Marys with its Sunday brunch, which runs from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Henry's Bar & Grill
2523 E. Belleview Pl., (414) 332-9690

Always made from scratch, the Henry's Bloody Mary incorporates vodka, Worcestershire, tomato juice, Tabasco sauce and dashes of celery salt and garlic powder. A hint of horseradish provides an extra kick. Finished off with a lemon, lime and two olives, the made-to-order Bloody's are part of the Sunday specials and are $3.

Hotel Metro Bar and Café
411 E. Mason St., (414) 225-3270

Noted by one patron has having a "complete meal in their Bloody Marys", Hotel Metro packs a salad in a glass. Celery, pickles, olives, mushrooms, pickled onions, a beef stick and lime add nutrition and zest.

725 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 431-5556

Vodka, tomato juice, A1 steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt garnished with olive, lemon and lime.

The Knick
1030 E. Juneau Ave., (414) 272-0011

How about shrimp and some cherry peppers in that Bloody? The Knick’s Sunday brunch deals up a 22-oz. Bloody Mary with the aforementioned shrimp and cherry peppers, plus the usual garnishes for $6.50. Brunch runs every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Landmark Lanes
2220 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 278-8770

Allow the nutrition of tomato juice and Worchestershire sauce to power you through frame upon frame of bowling. Landmark Lanes offers Bloody Mary night on Wednesdays, where they can be enjoyed for $2.

Lava Bar & Grill
2028 E. North Ave., (414) 225-0668

Leaning toward the spicy side, Lava might add horseradish, Tabasco, or A-1 steak sauce. To sweeten the drink, sometimes a splash of Guinness is added. Bartenders take requests, so feel free to vary your Bloody Mary at will. Lava sells most of their Bloody Marys at their brunch, which runs Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Lucille's Rockin' Pianos
1110 N. Old World 3rd St.

Lucille's uses a zing zang mix with celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, crispy pickle and "lots of rhythm."

The Mad Planet
533 E. Center St., (414) 263-4555

The Mad Planet incorporates the usual ingredients, but tops it off with a splash of tap beer.

Milwaukee Ale House
233 N. Water St., (414) 226-2337

What's the fairly unique ingredient in the Ale House's Bloody Mary? Pickled hop shoots, writhing about the top of your glass. The Ale House uses Finlandia vodka infused with vegetables, garlic and pepper, so it's a little more sassy than most.

Nomad World Pub
1401 E. Brady St.
(414) 224-8111

Similar to Lava, Nomad adds a splash of Guinness to their Bloody Mary along with the traditional ingredients.

Palm Tavern
2989 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 744-0393

Along with the traditional, Palm Tavern adds a dash of dark beer, preferably Sprecher Black Bavarian, and a lime to garnish.

Paulie's Pub & Eatery
8031 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, (414) 257-2854

Rotating hot sauces vary up the spices at Paulie's, which features a "make-it-yourself" Bloody Mary bar Saturdays and Sundays until 4 p.m. Hot sauces feature words like "insanity" and "injection" in their names, so have your chaser ready. A variety of accoutrements include olives (such as jalapeno-stuffed), a wide selection of pickles, pepperoncinis, artichoke hearts and more.

Ray & Dot's
6351 W. Grange Ave., Greendale, (414) 421-1960

Some claim it to be the best Bloody Mary in town. Like their beers, it's certainly not the most expensive ($4, including the chaser.) While the typical olive and pickle garnish show up on Ray & Dot's Bloody Mary, homemade dilly beans (green beans with cayenne pepper) give it a unique and spicy twist.

1900 W. St. Paul Ave., (414) 931-1919

Sobelman's, well-known for its burgers, claims the best Bloody Mary in town; some polls have agreed. It's certainly one of the most packed: the regular Bloody Mary includes celery, a sausage stick, a block of marble jack cheese, pickles, olives, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, onion, mushroom, a cherry tomato and a big piece of shrimp. A beer chaser of Miller Lite also comes standard. Saturdays, the Bloody Marys are extra-stuffed with broccoli, baby corn, carrots, green peppers... anything they can find.

800 S. 2nd St., (414) 672-7139

Steny's shuns tomato juice in favor of Clamato, and Worcestershire sauce in favor their own "special sauce." Lemon and lime juice, vodka and pickle and olive garnishes top it off, with a little celery salt on the rim. Steny's features their Bloody Marys for $3.75 from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Sunday. 

1758 N. Water St., (414) 272-0205

Among the variations offered at Trocadero, the most notable is the "Frenchy". It's a Bloody Mary featuring Dijon mustard (a great time to pop the "pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" question) and bleu cheese stuffed olives. A tiny Heiny (that's, um, a small Heineken bottle) is served as the chaser.

Von Trier
2235 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 272-1775

Von Trier's Bloody Mary is basic, but it often comes up in peoples' lists of favorites and has for a long time. Coupled with adjacent bars, this is a good stop on any "North Avenue Bloody Mary tour" one might organize.

Walker's Pint
818 S. 2nd St., (414) 643-7468

Walker's Pint features $4 Bloody Marys all day on Sunday. When football season returns, look for the return of their "build-your-own" Bloody Mary bar.

Wicked Hop
345 N. Broadway, (414) 223-0345

Made from scratch, a Wicked Hop Bloody Mary consists of the rare beef stick and mozzarella whips along with the standards. You can choose mild, medium or spicy flavor. Don't forget about the marinated mushrooms or blue cheese olives, either.

Do you have a favorite spot to enjoy a Bloody Mary that we didn't cover? Just post a comment using our talkback feature.