Bloody Awesome

Elk Lake Tavern steps up Bloody Mary game

Samantha Kobbs

LIMITED EDITION. Elk Lake Tavern bartender Kari Bushendorf only makes 40 of these bad boys each month.
LIMITED EDITION. Elk Lake Tavern bartender Kari Bushendorf only makes 40 of these bad boys each month.

The competition for Best Bloody in the Chippewa Valley just got stiffer as underdog Elk Lake Tavern moved its way up the power rankings. Just a few miles straight west of Eau Claire at 10500 W. Cameron St., this little-known watering hole is one of those places that outsiders aren’t quite sure about ... mostly because it looks like someone’s estranged uncle might live in the back. 

Don’t be fooled by the marquee board that says absolutely nothing. Instead, enter the door that looks like it might lead to a business, cautiously descend to the basement, and belly up to the bar where the kindest, friendliest bartenders will greet you with an authentic Wisconsin welcome. 

One Sunday a month, Elk Lake Tavern offers its specialty $5 Loaded Bloody. And when we say loaded, we mean it. Meat, cheese, shrimp, pretzels, celery, hard-boiled egg, bacon ... the list goes on. 

For years, longtime bartender Kari Bushendorf has been waking up at 5am to craft these hefty, fresh, mouthwatering skewers. To keep things competitive (and because it takes hours to prep), she only makes 40 each time, so patrons must arrive early to ensure that they’ll get one of the coveted drinks. 

If you can’t beat the rush, Elk Lake Tavern serves rail Bloodys all day Sunday for only $2, meaning it’s a win-win no matter when you arrive. The next Loaded Bloody Sunday will be July 28 – for subsequent Bloody Sunday dates and details, you’ll have to check out their Facebook page. Contenders, beware!

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