By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Mar 24, 2024 at 10:10 AM

Cheers! It's Bar Month at OnMilwaukee – so get ready to drink up more bar articles, imbibable stories and cocktailing content, brought to you by Potawatomi Casino Hotel and Miller Lite. Thirsty for more? To find even more bar content, click here

There are few drinks more closely associated with American brunch culture than the Bloody Mary. And few places are more obsessed with the drink (and brunch) than those of us in the Midwest.

Not only have we embraced this simple drink, once served with little more than a celery stalk for stirring, but we've turned it into both a meal and an Instagrammable icon. Few Bloody Marys are served without garnishes like pickles, olives, beef sticks and cheese curds, and many get even fancier with additions like antipasto skewers and shrimp.

But we’ve also added our own little twist: a small serving of beer served alongside. In Wisconsin we tend to call it a chaser. In other locales, it’s known as a side beer or beer back. In Minnesota, they call it a snit. 

Like many cocktails, the origin of the Bloody Mary is pretty fuzzy. But if you’re interested in delving deeper, there’s a thorough account written by Jack McGerry of New York’s Dead Bird written up in Difford’s Guide. Suffice it to say, there is no one “correct” recipe for a Bloody Mary, making it one of the most interesting and variable drinks in the cocktail canon.

Of course, with that amount of diversity, there are bound to be differing opinions about which Bloody Marys stand out from the rest. As a result, we've curated a list of staff recommendations for Milwaukee's “must try” Bloodies.

Bar 360

Bloody Mary at Bar 360X

Potawotomi Casino Hotel
1721 W. Canal St., (414) 847-6360 

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Recommended by: Carolynn Buser

Start off your Sunday Funday (or any day, for that matter) with one of my favorites - the Weekend Bloody Mary at 360 Bar at Potawatomi Casino Hotel.  The drink is made with Absolut Vodka and Remedy bloody mary mix and garnished with celery salt, lime, lemon, pickle, green olives, pickled mushroom and pickled asparagus along with a Pritzloff beef stick and Renard's cheese whips.

It's a delicious base for wherever your day might take you. Hopefully, you make your way to a roulette spin and win, but either way you win with this Bloody Mary. 

The Weekend Bloody Mary is available at 360 Bar for $12 on weekdays and $10 all weekend long.


Royal Bloody at Eldr+RimeX

2300 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa, (414) 867-9200
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Recommended by: Lori Fredrich

For me, a great Bloody Mary is about what’s in the glass. The drink itself should be thoughtfully constructed (no bottled mixes, please) with a balanced flavor profile. From there, I’ll absolutely welcome a few thoughtful garnishes; but those should just be icing on the cake.

In the case of the Bloody Marys at Eldr+Rime, you truly get both. Both their Signature ($14) and Royal Bloody Mary ($20) begin with their house-blended mix, which is tangy, not-too-salty and infused with just the right kick, a decent amount stemming from a generous dash of sweet, spicy horseradish. The collection of “snacks” atop each bloody includes a beef stick, pickles, cheese curd, pepper, house chips and a lime wedge alongside a Spotted Cow chaser.

If you order the Royal, you’ll also get three large grilled shrimp and two freshly shucked oysters. Since a great bloody mary pairs perfectly with shellfish, the Royal makes my list for favorite special occasion Bloody. It’s worth the price for both what’s in the glass and what’s without.

Fuel Cafe

Bloody Mary at Fuel on 5thX

630 S. 5th St., (414) 847-9580

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Recommended by: Molly Snyder

Fuel has a great Blood Mary that’s available any time of day. It’s a tasty mix of vodka and homemade Bloody Mary mix and it comes with a chaser of the customer’s choice. We usually go with Guinness. The silky beer complements the spice – yeah, this one has some kick! But the best part of the Fuel’s Bloody Mary are the garnishes: a Clock Shadow cheese curd, pickle spear, pepperoncini, celery and the star of the show, a slice of Fuel’s famous “bacon crack”, $13.

Great Lakes Distillery

Bloody Mary at Great Lakes DistilleryX

 616 W. Virginia St., (414) 431-8683

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Recommended by: Molly Snyder

Great Lake’s Bloody is made with Rehorst gin instead of vodka – although you can request vodka – and comes in a chilled mug glass with a beer chaser. (As it should.) Chaser choices include New Glarus’ Two Women or Lakefront Brewery’s Riverwest Stein or Hazy Rabbit. The house-made mix is infused with Sriracha and the garnishes include a meat stick, cheese wedge and pickle. At 10 bucks, it’s a bargain.

Honeypie Cafe

Garlic Rosemary Bloody Mary at Honeypie CafeX

2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 489-7437

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Recommended by: Lori Fredrich

Honeypie offers three variations on their Bloody Mary: classic, garlic-rosemary and jalapeno ($11-$12). Each one begins with their housemade mix, a balanced blend that offers a discernable tomato flavor, a pleasant tang and just enough complexity from a well-rounded blend of spices. I’m partial to the garlic-rosemary version, which pulls in amazing herbal and vegetal notes from vodka that’s infused in-house. Garnished simply with a wedge of lemon (be sure to squeeze it in the drink; it offers a nice pop of acid), an olive, pickle and meat stick, it’s served up with an adorable baby-sized Miller High Life chaser.

Wicked Hop

Bloody Mary at Wicked HopX

345 N. Broadway, (414) 223-0345

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This bonus pick is a Milwaukee favorite, which topped the charts in OnMilwaukee’s “Best Bloody” poll for years in a row. And the drink’s popularity is valid. Wicked Hop’s Bloody Mary starts with their secret house mix, which has a viscosity that’s a bit on the thicker side. It’s moderately spicy with a pleasant tang and a backbone of Worcestershire. 

From there, it’s topped with peeled coldwater shrimp, an Old Wisconsin beef stick, a Milwaukee midget kosher dill pickle, festoons of mozzarella whips, a Walnut Street portabella mushroom and a Spanish green olive. The chaser? A Riverwest Stein (not pictured).

You can get them for $2 off all day on Tuesdays.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.