Posts Tagged ‘camp bar’

Yesterday was East Tosa’s annual Chili’n on the Avenue event, featuring both a Bloody Mary competition and a Chili competition.

We’ve chosen to attend this event over events like the Tomato Romp over the last couple of years because we really prefer the intimate neighborhood feel of the Chili’n event and how true each spot stays to the actual Bloody Mary served at their establishment.

However, this year we were a little disappointed in the event. The previous two years, there were four entries in the Bloody Mary competition (Last year: North Avenue Grill, Cranky Al’s, Bel Air Cantina & Red Dot).

This year, the event was moved further east on North Avenue, there were only three establishments participating, and only one of the competitors from previous years (Red Dot, the winner!) was involved.

This year’s competitors were:

-Hue (a new Vietnamese restaurant that opened last fall);

-Camp Bar; and

-Red Dot

When you think of Bloody Marys, you don’t typically think of Vietnamese restaurants, but we gave Hue a whirl first.

There, we found the owner behind the bar, ready to mix up the drinks. The Bloody here was Asian-inspired, containing hoisin sauce, sriracha, fish sauce and some chili paste among other ingredients. It was topped off with olives and Vietnamese pork for the garnishes.

Hue Bloody Mary

This Bloody Mary was the polarizing for the group. Either you liked the unique flavor or you hated it. In speaking with the owner, he told us that his wife had helped him come up with the recipe the night before. He wasn’t sure how many people would be trying his drink, so he was a little unprepared for the rush, but was very nice. When we inquired as to whether or not we would find this drink on the menu moving forward, he was not yet sure.

This was a deal breaker for us… The reason we stopped attending certain Bloody Mary events was because the bloodies strayed away from what was actually served at a restaurant in order to cater to the competition. What we like best about the competition is getting to try a variety of bloodies and then coming back to those establishments later to enjoy them again in the future…NEXT!

We then headed across the street to Camp Bar. We’ve reviewed Camp Bar here twice in the past, once for its Shorewood location and again last fall when Camp Bar opened up in Wauwatosa. We’re pleased to say the bloody mary they entered into the competition was a smaller version of the one they serve on a daily basis:

Camp Bar Bloody Mary

The final stop was at Red Dot, the winner of the event in years past. This Bloody Mary is already one of the tops in our book, so we knew going in, this was a frontrunner. And they did not let us down. We had to rightfully cast our vote for Red Dot’s Basil-Garlic Bloody Mary.

Red Dot Bloody Mary

While we still love Red Dot and they got our vote, the public voted Camp Bar as the new Bloody Mary champ:

Like we said, we have come to like this event far more than others for many reasons, but we do have a few more suggestions for the future, such as getting more bars & restaurants to participate in the event; having those bars/restaurants only use the bloody they actually sell; creating fun ratings cards like they had the first year; and making sure to announce the winners on social media on the day of the event so those who had to leave early are able to find out the results (we only know the winner because we saw a tweet from Camp Bar), plus making an official hashtag for the event.

This year’s set up was different than in years past. As mentioned, it was hosted farther east on North Avenue. This seemed to exclude several businesses. In addition, the Chili was moved to individual tents and more spread out, but they still ran into the same problem they’ve had before: The participants run out of chili as early as 30 minutes into the event. We had purchased tickets and several went to waste because the chili was gone. When we tried to return the tickets where we had purchased them, we were told we were out of luck and that many had the same issue. That really wasn’t a satisfactory answer…. something should definitely be done to fix the issue moving forward. For example, there should be some sort of set amount of chili each participant has to create, or only a limited amount of tickets can be sold…

Just something to think about for future years as we would hate to see this event fail!





Earlier this year, we visited  Camp Bar in Shorewood in advance of their opening a second location in Wauwatosa. We enjoyed their Bloody Mary and eagerly anticipated the opening of the Tosa establishment.

It took us over two weeks to get in–each time we thought about heading to Camp Bar, we found it overflowing with folks eager to try out the newest place on North Avenue. While we were happy to see them doing brisk business, we didn’t want to squeeze in at the bar or bump elbows with our neighbors for our first experience there, so we stealthily waited until a Packers Bye Week and headed over to check it out.

There, we had our pick of tables, the chance to sample the Bloody Mary and the opportunity to speak to Brad, the manager for a bit.

Camp Bar Bloody Mary Wauwatosa

Yes, I can now confirm: East Tosa is getting another great Bloody Mary to join the ranks of Juniper 61, Red Dot and the like!

Mix: Homemade

Chaser: Yes–a Rhinelander Shorty!

Fixin’s: Cheese, pickle, asparagus, olive, beefstick, pepperoni

Price: $8 (They also have a 22oz version for $10; they are $6.50 and $8 respectively on Sundays)

While chatting about Bloody Marys, Brad convinced me to try one of their Specialties as well. While their Bloodies are good, Brad admits their Old Fashioneds are really what they pride themselves on. Indeed, they have several special “Signature” versions on their menu.

I tried “The Stevie…” Ginger Brandy and Orange Bitters… out of this world! All old-fashioneds are $5 on Fridays, so you can guess what day I’ll be coming back next time!

Camp Bar





After dinner and drinks at the Hubbard Park Lodge, we decided to check out Camp Bar, also in Shorewood.

Camp Bar is a unique place with a lodge/”up north” type atmosphere. It was recently announced that Camp Bar is opening a second location in Wauwatosa, so I wanted to check it out in advance of it coming to my ‘hood.

Camp Bar

…And I’m pleased to report that East Tosa is getting another great Bloody Mary to join the ranks of Juniper 61, Red Dot and the like.

Mix: Homemade

Chaser: Yes–a Rhinelander Shorty!

Fixin’s: Cheese, pickle, asparagus, olive, beefstick, pepperoni

Price: $Unknown

I am told that Camp Bar also features a 22oz Bloody Mary for $8 on Sunday (or mini- Marys for $6.50, but where’s the fun in that?). I can definitely see this becoming a great spot to watch the Packers games this fall. I can’t wait until August.

Last Saturday, I attended the East Town Association’s Heat it Up Event, a Bloody Mary & Chili tasting at Cathedral Square Park in downtown Milwaukee. I had first attended this event last year and this year did not disappoint.


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’s much easier on 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 $25 this year, but for that price, you UNLIMITED get samples of 19 different Bloodies and 13 chilis.


Heat it Up offers the awesome combination of Bloody Marys AND chili.The samples are ample-sized and, even though only one place 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 – Nines at the River Club
2nd Place Chili – Burke’s Irish Castle
3rd Place Chili- Maxies Southern Comfort

1st Place Bloody Mary – Miller Time Pub*
2nd Place Bloody Mary – Camp Bar
3rd Place Bloody Mary -Buckley’s Restaurant & Bar

*Also got my vote!

I didn’t make it to each place, so I’ll give you a few highlights of the Bloodies that stood out in my mind:

1) The No.1 Bloody, from Miller Time pub (pictured top left row, above), was my favorite as well. A beefstick, shrimp and jalapeno popper among other items make this a meal in itself.

2) Burke’s Irish Castle (pictured middle right), was made with tomatillos and Irish Whiskey. Definitely different and not half bad!

3) McBob’s (bottom left) also used Irish Whiskey. This popular late night Reuben joint also includes a mini reuben in its Bloody.

4) Millioke (not pictured) used a “pizza flavored” Bloody Mary mix. They had a piece of cheese, pepperoni and an olive as fixin’s, plus a sprinkle or Parmesan. Different for sure— and very good.

5) Blue Jacket (not pictured) used gin and bitters. I’m not a fan of gin, so I definitely didn’t gravitate toward this one, though I gave it the old college try.

This event is an incredible 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!