For those who can’t start their morning off drinking mimosas without ending up with a headache by noon, bloody marys are the answer for you. They offer the right amount of booze and bite to start off any Sunday on a high note.
Though the tomato-y treat is available at nearly all the local burger places here in Madison, not all of them are up to par with others. The bloodies below will please any morning boozer, depending on how they are feeling on a given day. For the ambitious, this list can be used as a tour guide to sample some of the standout bloodies in Madison, whether that be over the span of weeks or hours.
For the hungry: The Nitty Gritty’s Brunchzilla, $15
Why get brunch and spend a fortune on a meal and pricey bloody when the Nitty has consolidated the two into one genius and gigantic spectacle? The Nitty makes one impressive bloody with the perfect amount of spice and flavor, always with a beer chaser included, no matter the size. Their largest choice of “Liquid Brunch,” as they call it, is a full liter bloody mary and is topped with all the typical toppings. But in addition to the pickle, olives, beef stick and so on, it is also topped with a mini Gritty burger and comes with a full pint of beer as a chaser. A nap is almost required after this monster so if you’re attempting to tour all these bloodies in a day, make this your last stop or split it with a friend.
For the hungover: City Bar, $5.50
This bloody is for the painfully hungover who refuse to throw in the towel. Descending into the basement darkness makes the walk over in the harsh sunlight worth it. This bloody is house-made and mysteriously addictive. The bartender will formulate the bloody to your desired spice level and garnish with no-frill toppings — lemon, lime, olive, pickle and no more is needed on this perfectly concocted bloody. It won’t be until patrons trek back up the steps and emerge into the world that they will realize just how much vodka that perfect bloody concealed. They are generously mixed and can cure even the worst hangover, all in the comfort of a cavelike atmosphere.
For the risk-taker: Umami Ramen and Dumpling Bar, $7.50
Umami is a sleeper hit when it comes to bloodies. It’s probably not one of the top options when deciding where to go for a breakfast cocktail, but the cozy atmosphere and unique take on the classic offer the perfect place for a morning drink. Umami is better known for its steamed buns than breakfast, but this bloody’s garnish of Chinese sausage, pickled garlic clove, olive, Thai basil and, finally, a flavor-infused quail egg will quickly change that reputation. Patrons can choose their level of spiciness and enjoy either the charming interior of this former Willy Street home or the outdoor seating. The servers here know the menu inside and out so if there are any questions they will help lead you to a successful morning buzz.
For the choosy: Café Hollander, $8 – $11
Though Café Hollander isn’t the closest to campus, it’s worth it to split an Uber with friends and make the trip. Their selection of bloodies are made from scratch with an original mix and house infused vodka, creating a fantastic base for all their bloodies. There are six different ones to choose from, ranging from peppercorn-infused vodka with carrots and jalapeno-stuffed olives, to basil-garlic infused vodka with a caprese skewer and balsamic grilled asparagus. Each bloody is perfectly mixed and garnished to please any palate. The Dutch-inspired restaurant has bikes hanging from the ceiling and huge sunny windows, creating a fun atmosphere to help you wake up while the bloodies start your day off on the right foot.
For the local: The Old Fashioned, $7
The Old Fashioned manages to set itself apart from the countless burger joints in the area by sourcing all of their ingredients from inside Wisconsin. This same discipline is carried over to their bloody, creating a drink wholly the epitome of the state, for when it’s too early to have the restaurant’s namesake cocktail. This bloody is filled with a big slab of jerky, pickled eggs, Brussels sprouts and, of course, cheese curds. These classic toppings create a long-lasting bloody with some substance behind it to keep you fueled for more of the weekend activity that Wisconsinites love most — drinking.
For the undecided: DLUX, $8
DLUX’s bloody mary bar is sure to overwhelm with its huge spread of options. To start, patrons have the option of regular or jalapeño-infused vodka. Following that, they have the choice of DLUX’s regular bloody mix or a spicier version with more horseradish. The option of veggies like cucumber, celery and artichoke hearts follow along with salami slices, beef sticks, bacon and more. Pickles and blue-cheese-stuffed olives are only some of the brined options, and the choice to add a plethora of hot sauces is also available. Most DIY bloodies here end up looking like some sort of trophy for who can fit the most skewers of toppings on top, each one perfect for their creator.