Archive for September 12, 2014




One Saturday morning, I stopped at Highlands Cafe in Wauwatosa for brunch. This place has been around for quite sometime, but I’ve personally recently discovered it.

Their sandwiches are great and, as I would discover, so is their breakfast menu and Bloody Mary!

Highlands Cafe


Chaser:Yes–a shortie!

Fixin’s: Beefstick, cheese, olives, lemon, pickle

Price: $?

This is one large mason jar filled with goodness. I’m glad they have a simple, inexpensive breakfast option to accompany it–2 eggs and toast for just $2.99. This Bloody was quite filling on its own, but I would have felt a bit like a lush if I hadn’t at least put up the pretense of ordering food.

I highly recommend this place for breakfast, brunch or lunch. And of course, for their Bloodies.

They are also open for dinner, but I have yet to try them for that, but I’m sure I will soon!


Some may advise you to take professors, not classes; read authors, not books… how about bartenders, not bars?

We enjoyed our Bloody Mary at Presidio Social Club so much that we followed Bar Manager Scott Brody to his other gig at Louie’s in San Francisco.

Louie’s feels like your local neighborhood bar; it has a very fun vibe, showing old movies on the TV, music blasting, people socializing on a Friday night. Delicious food that’s a step above pub fare, too.


As for the Bloody Mary:

Mix: Homemade

Chaser: Yes

Fixin’s: Lemon, onion, olive

Price: $?

Looks like Scott can whip up a variety of great Bloody Marys no matter where he goes. This one was not as horseradish-y as the one at Presidio, but had its own unique flavor. I also like the fact that he strongly believes in chasers.

One thing I would like to see are more fixin’s, but I’m aware that those are more common in the Midwest. When I travel elsewhere, it is usually a happy surprise to find more than lemon, lime, olive and pickle.

Thanks again, Scott!


While in San Francisco, I happened to meet the bar manager of Presidio Social Club who invited me to try their Bloody Mary. I happily obliged.

The restaurant itself is located in the Presidio of San Francisco, as I am sure you could have guessed.

Driving up to it, you feel like you have left the city; it is in a very pretty, tranquil spot. The place reminded me of a modern old-fashioned supper club.

Presidio Social Club

Mix: Homemade

Chaser: Yes

Fixin’s: Lemon, olive, onion and mini pickle

Price: This one was on the house!

This Bloody Mary was very tasty and if you’re a fan of horseradish, you’ll be especially pleased. I was also happy to see that this one came with a chaser. Special thanks to Scott Brody for bringing us here and being our expert mixologist.


The next stop in SanFran was Park Tavern in North Beach. 

We must have got our tip from an old list because a variety of Bloody Marys was not offered here.

Park Tavern Bloody Mary


Chaser: No

Fixin’s: Pickle and 2 olives

Price: $?

I was highly disappointed with this Bloody Mary; however, in talking to the barkeep, it does sound like they have a special Bloody Mary served on Sundays which includes beef jerky. Bummer!


We had amazing luck with Bloody Marys in San Diego, so we were hopeful that northern California would also take great pride in their bloodies.

Again, we did a little research a head of time and headed to Zuni Cafe, where we tried their Balsamic Bloody Mary.

Zuni Cafe Balsalmic Bloody Mary

Mix: Homemade with Smirnoff Vodka, tomato juice, Tabasco, salt, pepper, spicy pepper-onion relish and… 6-year old balsamic.

Chaser: No

Fixin’s: Lemon and celery

Price: $12

The verdict? This Bloody Mary was pretty good; you could definitely taste the pepper-onion relish, which was a little strange to have a few chunks in the drink. Other than that, this Bloody definitely had a distinct taste, but if I  hadn’t known that balsamic vinegar was the key to this drink, I would not have been able to identify it.

If you find yourself at Zuni, you should definitely try it, but it doesn’t hold a candle to any of the ones we experience in the Midwest and San Diego.


And last but certainly not least on the trip to San Diego…Cafe 21.

Oh my gosh… I don’t even know where to begin.

First of all, another Bloody Mary MENU here. Decisions, decisions. Since I’ve had a green Bloody Mary before and the others looked kinda tame, I went for the Ol’ Yello’ Mary.


However, I didn’t realize how big the “Grilled Multi-Cheese Sandwich Skewer” would be when I ordered it.

After I ordered my drink, I asked the bartender what he would recommend for dinner. He talked me into the Turkey Burger and I put that order in. Then the drink arrived.

Needless to say, by the time my actual meal arrived, I was pretty full. The bartender came back to check on me, my burger virtually untouched.

“You don’t like your burger?” he questioned.

“Oh no, it’s delicious! I’m just really full…”

The bartender began apologizing effusively, saying he should have let me know how much was on the Bloody Mary, or steered me in a different direction after I ordered it. I told him it was not his fault at all. I was just content. A delicious Bloody Mary and a great dinner.

But he wouldn’t have any of it, insisting on taking money off of my check for it. I was floored. Again-is everyone nice in San Diego?

Cafe 21

Mix: Homemade with YELLOW Heirloom Tomato Mix and fresh horseradish

Chaser: No

Fixin’s: Veggies galore (cucumber, radish, olive, pepper, carrot, etc.) and a “Grilled Multi-Cheese Sandwich Skewer” which was more like a full sandwich if you ask me!

Price: $15

My favorite Bloody Mary in San Diego! Thrillist ranked Small Bar, which I did not go to and Great Maple before this one, but for me, this was the best, followed by Bier Garden on Encinitas; however, it would seem that you cannot go wrong when ordering a Bloody in San Diego!

UPDATE: 9/30/15:

We found ourselves back in San Diego and made a beeline for Cafe 21 (seriously, our hotel room wasn’t ready yet so we headed straight there from the airport). This time, we  tried the California Greenin’ and it did not disappoint:

Cafe 21 Bloody Mary

We also squeezed in another visit to try the Prawn Star…This one was still good, but was our least favorite, most likely because it felt like we were being watched:

Cafe 21 Prawn Star Bloody Mary

All kidding aside, their house red mix was flavorful, but we preferred the yellow mix the best. We also saw another patron order a “regular” bloody mary while we were there and that one looked divine. If you’re going to try a red mix bloody at Cafe 21 and aren’t a huge fan of prawns, that one looks like a winner as well. Cheers!

Still in San Diego, the next stop was the Bier Garden of Encinitasanother place with a Bloody Mary Menu.

They make their own house flavor-infused vodkas (horseradish-infused, basil, rosemary & garlic-infused, bacon and cheddar-infused, etc.)  AND they are all served with a chaser, something that I’ve found is rare outside of the Midwest.

In talking with the friendly bartender (is everyone in San Diego friendly?), I was told that someone on staff is from Wisconsin and had developed some of these recipes. Ah, that explains it.


I am a fan of all things Mediterranean, so I chose the Seasonal on this trip, but surprise, it was made with RUM!

Bier Garden Encinitas Bloody Mary

Mix: Homemade with roasted red bell pepper-infused RUM.

Chaser: Yes!

Fixin’s: Shrimp, Goat Cheese, Pickled Asparagus, Tomato, Onion, Cucumber, Lemon, Lime, Olive, Celery, Pickle

Price: $12

This was the early front runner for my favorite, but there was one more stop… Cafe 21. Stay tuned!


8/10/16 Update:

Two years later, we returned to Biergarden of Encinitas around the same time of the year and found the seasonal Bloody Mary to be the same, so we decided to try another one for the sake of review. We asked the bartender what his favorite was and he recommended the Spicy.

Bier Garden of Encinitas

Holy cow! He wasn’t kidding… this was delicious but definitely lived up to its name. So spicy we could barely finish it! Of the two we tried,  the Seasonal Mediterranean was definitely the best. We’ll just have to keep visiting until we’ve tried them all!

In my last post, I mentioned that I was visiting San Diego and working off a previously established area Bloody Mary Bucketlist of sorts provided by Thrillist.

My next stop was Great Maple.

Let me first just say I was bummed that when I went there I was only planning on having a drink (i.e. I had already had a meal) because their menu looked great and the food looked even better.

Here, I discovered not just a great Bloody Mary, but a whole Bloody Mary MENU (something kind of common for San Diego I would come to find out).  I have to admit, I was a little overwhelmed. So many Bloodies, so little time!



I asked the bartender for her recommendation and she said that the Pickle Bloody Mary was a favorite, so that’s the one I went for:

Great Maple


Mix: Titos Vodka with homemade mix

Chaser: No

Fixin’s: One gigantic pickle

Price: $10

This Bloody Mary was great, but I wish I had the change to try some of the others. Had I been hungry, Johnny’s Hangover Mary, which comes with, basically, a loaf of bread on top. 🙂

Recently, I found myself in San Diego. Before I travel anywhere–for business or pleasure–I make sure I research good Bloody Marys in the area.

Fortunately, I found this guide from Thrillist. I quickly mapped where these locations were in relation to the places I would be going and was happy to discover that four of the six were close by. Game on!

The first stop was Island Prime/C-Level Lounge.

I hadn’t been to San Diego in 10 years and I was really glad I came here right away. This restaurant has an amazing view of the city.

Their seafood tacos were amazing and their bartender was extremely friendly, even giving me a dessert on the house.




C-Level Island Prime Bloody Mary

But what I enjoyed the most about my visit was the seafood Bloody Mary. Made with Svedka and a house-made spicy mix, the giant glass is garnished with olives, onion, lime, peperoncinis, a giant shrimp, and a crab claw.

A drink that comes with a seafood fork? Yes, please!

Mix: Svedka & house-made spicy mix


Fixin’s: Olives, Celery, Lime, Pepperoncinis, Shrimp and Crab Claw

Price: $?