Ode to the Bloody: 3 fine examples in the Chippewa Valley

where to find the best tomato-based treats in the Valley

Taylor Kuether, Thom Fountain, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Grizzly’s Restaurant & Bar
A Bloody Mary from Grizzly’s Restaurant & Bar

The Bloody Mary is an unusual drink, to say the least. There’s a whole culture and community around the drink; people who love Bloody Marys really love Bloody Marys and are constantly on a hunt for the best one around. Here’s a closer look at the tangy, spicy, citrus-y concoction.

Wisconsinites love their Bloody Marys. The tangy, tomato-y drink – and the subsequent garnish/meal that often comes stuck in it – is the perfect refresher morning, noon, or night and can be found in just about any bar across the state (served with a beer chaser, of course).

According to tradition, the Bloody got its start in the 1920s in New York City when bartender Fernand Petiot whipped up a vodka-tomato juice for a customer. The drink proved kind of bland, however, so Petiot began spicing it up with black pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon, and Tabasco sauce. The drink is said to be named after Queen Mary I of England, whose cruel reign over the country had her remembered with the less-than-flattering nickname, Bloody Mary.

The customization that Petiot found to spice up the drink became a key to its success. Unlike other standards, Bloody Marys differ greatly between bars, each with their own unique blend of spices and ingredients, some even using unique vodka flavors to give the drink a new twist. There’s the consistency, which ranges from thin and light (try Clancy’s Bar or Ray’s Place) to the full-bodied variety (like Girolamo’s Court ‘n House). They also come in levels of spice, with places like Loopy’s presenting a sweeter option while The Livery serves up zesty Bloodys that are not for the faint at heart.

And of course, there’s the garnish. In the state of Wisconsin, you can’t go wrong with anything that goes well with meat and cheese. Most Bloody Marys come with a standard garnish of a pickle and an olive, but then each establishment adds its own twist, such as a lemon wedge at The Firehouse, celery at Grizzlys or even a slice of bacon at Milwaukee Burger Company.

The blank canvas that is a Bloody Mary allows a little something for everyone. Because, hey, when you order a drink, who can pass up a little free dinner too?

According to You:

Bloody Marys can be a very personal thing. Everyone has his or her own idea as to the perfect amount of tang or the precise consistency that makes a Bloody the best. Last year, we asked the readers of Volume One what their favorite Bloody Mary was in our Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll 2012. These three establishments came away as the top three places, so we decided to delve into them a little more and dig into these tomato delicacies.

Girolamo’s Court ‘n House (113 W. Grand Ave., Eau Claire)
Girolamo’s Court ‘n House offers a full-bodied, spicy Bloody garnished with a pickle and an olive. The drink has a medium consistency, so it won’t fill you up and you can enjoy more than one if you’d like. Court ‘n House Bloodies are ideal for someone looking for a classic, no-frills Bloody Mary – a true, authentic Bloody Mary experience! The drink fits in perfectly with the true Wisconsin atmosphere at the Court ‘n House. Comes with complimentary beer chaser.

Loopy’s Saloon & Grill (10691 Business 29, Chippewa Falls)
Loopy’s places very well in the garnish competition. Topped with a pepperjack cheese cube, a mini beef stick, a peperoncini, a pickle, and an olive, this Bloody is both a beverage and a snack. The taste is on the sweeter side,– making this the perfect Bloody for those who shy away from spice and the perfect drink to come back to after a hard-won or hard-lost game of volleyball outside. Comes with complimentary beer chaser.

The Mousetrap Tavern (311 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire)
The bartenders at The Mousetrap love to help you customize a Bloody Mary to your ideal standards. Want it spicy? They’ve got you covered. Cucumber vodka? Well, why not? The diversity of the Mousetrap’s bloodies make them a real treat – customizable enough to make them yours, recognizable enough to make them a Mousetrap specialty. We recommend their Bloody Mary with cucumber vodka, lots of spice, and a full beef stick. Truly unique, and truly delicious. Comes with complimentary beer chaser.

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