Worth the Drive: Bloody Marys

Posted on July 1, 2019 by Zack Dion

Wisconsin’s love for a bloody mary has been prominent for quite some time and this prominence has significantly risen over the past few years. Being a state known for its beers, Wisconsin is also known for taking the creative lead in serving a beer chaser with its bloodies. This combination is now seen as a tradition within the Midwest. Other trends in the realm of bloody marys include overloading the beverage with garnishes and adding infused vodkas to the mix, including bacon- and dill-infused vodka. Fox Citians with a craving for the best bloody mary can find some high-ranking concoctions just out of town. 

Green Dragon Brew Pub, Fond du Lac

Green Dragon’s gourmet bloody marys are only available on Sundays, but after your first taste, you’ll be craving one all week. It’s unique in that Green Dragon is the first in the area to feature a different set of garnishes on its bloody every week. On the week I visited, the gourmet bloody at Green Dragon featured a seafood style; garnished with shrimp, ahi tuna, bacon-wrapped asparagus, pepperoncini, olives, mushrooms, cucumber, potato wedges and a pickle. The brew pub has a signature mild and spicy mix which can be blended together to create a medium bloody. Each week, the Green Dragon goes through about 10.5 gallons of mix, a combination of its mild and spicy recipes; so, to ensure they don’t run out, they have to prepare about 16 gallons of mix per week. Each drink uses five to six ounces of mix, so they serve about 240 bloodies per week!

Smashed On The Rocks Saloon, Algoma

Smashed On The Rocks’ loaded bloody is served Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Loaded is an understatement. The cocktail is garnished with a soft pretzel, a cheese burger slider, a corn dog, chicken wings, chicken sriracha bites, a hard-boiled egg, breakfast sausage, a celery stalk, a pickle, banana peppers, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, asparagus, spicy green beans, a donut, olives, string cheese and cheese and sausage cubes. In other words, breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served with this beverage. The mix is a concoction of three bloody mary mixes including Zing Zang and V8 tomato juice, as well as other ingredients to diversify the flavor. “I love bloody marys, and from back home, there’s a bar where I really like the flavor; so I’ve kind of just been trying to mock it a little bit but put my own twist on it,” says Rana Ninneman, owner of Smashed On The Rocks. The saloon prepares a 5-gallon batch of its bloody mary mix each day of the weekend and serves between 150-250 of the cocktails each week. Smashed On The Rocks Saloon is celebrating its sixth season, open from May 1 to November 1 each year. 

Rusty’s Backwater Saloon, Stevens Point

Rusty’s is located off the beaten path but it’s well-known for having one of the best bloodies in the state. The bar’s owner, Scott “Rusty” Fischer, is very restrained in letting people know the exact recipe to his house-made bloody mary mix. With the renowned popularity of Fischer’s drink, you can see why he might be this way. The mix includes V8 vegetable juice instead of tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic, vinegar juice, pickle juice and vodka. It’s garnished with a pickle, mozzarella string cheese, a pepperoncini, banana peppers, and a beef stick from Pete’s Meat Service in Rudolph, exclusively made for Rusty’s bloodies. The mix is made from scratch every time its ordered. Fischer came up with the recipe when he won the right to drink at 18 and tried several bloodies to find what he liked. “I experimented. I loved experimenting and trying different foods and flavors together, and that’s what I would do; I’d write down the ingredients I would put in bloody marys,” Fischer says. “I had some good ones. I’d use steak sauce instead of Worcestershire, just all kinds of stuff. This one that I came up with, the one that I really enjoyed, when I bought the bar I said I might as well try to sell it.”   When visiting for about an hour on a slow Sunday, the bar still served about 10 bloodies. Of the 20 people in Rusty’s, seven of them had bloody marys in their hands. Rusty’s serves bloodies daily and has been open everyday for the past 34 years with hours from 11 a.m.-close. 

Hoozels Bar, Wisconsin Rapids

Hoozels Bar may have the largest, most heavily loaded bloody around. Its Hooge Mary is available only on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Hooge Mary holds eights shots of your choice of liquor — from nearly 20 different infused vodkas, including grapefruit jalapeño and sriracha, to seven off-the-wall, infused tequilas, rums and gins — in a 51 ounce fishbowl. This specialty bloody is garnished with mini corn dogs, chicken tender chunks, meatballs, panko shrimp, bacon or a hardboiled egg, onion rings, a beef snack, a potato snack, pickled veggies, celery and a pickle, a pretzel rod, and string cheese with a unique assortment of ingredients served on a tray with the bloody each week. Customers who successfully finish the Hooge Mary and all of its garnishes are assisted with a step ladder to write their name on the ceiling.  Hoozel’s bloody mix includes Zing Zang bloody mix as its tomato juice base and “Hoozel Juice,” a secret recipe by owner Jennifer Benz featuring a combination of six juices, used to alter the Zing Zang taste. For customers who can’t make it in for the Hooge Mary, Hoozels serves a 22-ounce classic bloody all week long. Occasionally Hoozels will feature other unique bloodies. For instance, on a Sunday in May, the bar served a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos bloody which used a house-made spicy vodka mix to bring the Flamin’ Hot flavor to the bloody. Over the summer, Hoozels will serve a green bloody on occasion which uses tomatillos, the same type of tomato in verde salsa. Check out the Hoozels Bar Facebook page to see what’s on the horizon for its bloodies.

Field to Fork Cafe, Sheboygan

Field to Fork Cafe in Sheboygan is known for its use of locally sourced ingredients, making its in-house bloody mary mix one of a kind. The biggest feature in its mix is its house-made grape tomato juice which uses certified Neapolitan San Marzano tomatoes grown in volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius in Naples, Italy. “They’re really rich and they have a little basil in them; that’s what we use here for all of our pizza sauce and our pasta sauce, and the flavor is just really fresh — really wonderful tomatoes,” says Sue Patron, the creator of the bloody mary mix. Other ingredients in the mix are water, pickle juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, cracked black pepper, carrot/celery juice and celery salt. A batch is made fresh each Thursday with the intent of lasting through the weekend. When visiting the cafe on a Friday or Saturday, consumers have the opportunity to order a loaded bloody mary which includes natural garnishes, hand-selected by the staff member making it, from pickled asparagus and green beans to cherry tomatoes and deli meat slices. Field to Fork is located in downtown Sheboygan on South 8th Street and is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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