On Saturday, I attended the East Town Association’s Heat it Up Event, a Bloody Mary & Chili tasting at Cathedral Square Park in downtown Milwaukee for the third year in a row.
Heat It Up takes place in a fenced in area in Cathedral Square Park. Each establishment has a table under a tent and participants line up in front of each one to claim their samples. You don’t get to experience the actual atmosphere of the restaurant (and they don’t get the benefit of you potentially buying additional food/beverage), but it is easy for the participant. You maximize your tasting time and you’re surrounded solely by people who share your passion.
Heat It Up went up in price to $30 this year ($25 last year), but for that price, you UNLIMITED get samples of 16 different Bloodies and 17 chilis.
Heat it Up offers the awesome combination of Bloody Marys AND chili.The samples are ample-sized and, even though only a couple of places offered a beer chaser, excellent. In my opinion, they are a fair representation of each establishment’s actual Bloody….BECAUSE THEY ALLOW ACCOUTREMENTS (unlike the Tomato Romp).
Each participant is allowed to vote for one chili and one bloody mary. Thus, the announced winners were as follows:
1st Place Chili – Miller Time Pub*
2nd Place Chili – Burke’s Irish Castle/Maxie’s (Tie!)
3rd Place Chili- Saz’s
1st Place Bloody Mary – Benelux
2nd Place Bloody Mary – Miller Time Pub*
3rd Place Bloody Mary -Maxie’s
*Also got my vote!
This year, weather was a bit of a factor. It was the first very cold day we’ve had in quite some time and there was a threat of rain in the area, so our group blew through the event, making it to ALL stations in record time. Yes, that’s right, we sipped each Bloody Mary and tasted each chili in under two hours.
Thus, the experience wasn’t quite as enjoyable as years past, but that was not the fault of the event organizers by any means.
In our rush to circulate, it was hard to keep track of everything, so we’ll give you a few highlights of the Bloodies that stood out:
1) The No.1 Bloody from 2013, from Miller Time pub, got my vote again this year as well. A beefstick, shrimp and jalapeno popper among other items make this a meal in itself.
2) St. Francis Brewery
Their “Packers Bloody Mary” was green, using tomatillos, and included an entire (cold) Klement’s Sausage and a Wisconsin Cheese Curd. Good in theory, but didn’t quite do it for us:
It’s no surprise Benelux won. They, along with their Lowlands Group counterparts, excel at Bloodies in Milwaukee.
This isn’t the Bloody I am used to getting at Maxie’s (usually it contains a shrimp and is spicier), but this was pretty good, as well.
5) Wicked Hop
Wicked Hop dazzled here, I thought. They’re one of the best bloodies in Milwaukee already, so I was surprised to see they didn’t even rank here. Odd.
This one was made with sake as the base (aka a “Bloody Geisha”)…Let’s just say that isn’t for everyone.
Note that 3 of the 5 establishments I called out in last year’s review (McBob’s, Millioke and Blue Jacket) did not return to this event in 2014.
This event is a great deal and was sold out again this year. I highly encourage you to check it out next year—and to stop in to each of these establishments to do you own tastings in the meantime!