Shortly after we marked the end of our active parenting years, our daughter Katherine gave us a little pep talk from her apartment located a maddening 2,078.4 miles from home.
“You should call these the Bloody Mary years,” she said.
Her idea to rebrand our empty nest life in that kind-of-Wisconsin way sprang from a Christmas tradition we added once we realized the people our Christmas stockings represented had all grown up. We started toasting Christmas morning with a Bloody Mary bar.
For us, Bloody Marys tasted like celebrations, football games, tailgates and, sometimes, a lazy Saturday afternoon pitstop in a tiny country bar.
We’ve added a couple of Christmas stockings in the years since that first Bloody Mary bar, and we’ve subsequently suspended that tradition. Our Bloody Mary years have become Bloody Mary moments. But, we’re still always grateful for the opportunity to slowdown and sip/munch our way through them.
In the spirit of Bloody Marys (the drinks and not the queen), here are our top three Bloody Mary places. If you dispute our No. 1 choice, I’ll have to say “Off with your head!” We’d love to hear your favorite places too.
For the best Bloody Mary in Wisconsin and, probably, the world, you need to make your way to Advance and belly up to Take a Chance, the most unassuming bar around. There, Delores will whip you up a spiced-to-order concoction that includes horseradish she gets from the farmer down the street. She’ll add cheese and sausage sticks too, along with pickles, olives, pickled mushrooms, pickled asparagus and a fresh lemon slice. At $4.50, it’s a bargain but that’s not why it’s No. 1. We’re only ranking on taste here, and Delores’ Bloodies are the best.
For a photo worthy Bloody in another unassuming town, we recommend pointing your GPS to Dundas and 2 of a Kind, a bar famous for its loaded Bloody Marys and its homemade soups. I gave away the pickled egg, onion rings and most of the mozzarella whips from my drink and I still walked around feeling like a human stuffed olive for the rest of the day. The 2 of a Kind Bloody Marys start with a homemade mix and end with a tasty cheeseburger on top. Come hungry for this one.
On sunny Saturday mornings during the Appleton Farmer’s Market or Mile of Music, it’s nice to sit outside Basil’s Pub and sip one of their Bloody Mary varieties. They offer flavored vodka and a range of spiciness, along with all the traditonal accoutrements. We like the taste of these Bloodies, but, even more than that, we look forward to the opportunity to enjoy them with friends, family and people just wandering by who stop to say hi.
The older I get, the more I appreciate moments like the one right after I take a sip of a Bloody Mary, I breath in gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy the drink , the football game it preceeds or the occasion it marks.
Here’s to Bloody Mary moments and the promise of more Bloody Mary years!