You say tomato, I say Bloody Mary.
Steny’s, on the corner of 2nd and National, is one of the spots I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. Whenever I read a “Best of” lists, it’s always listed. Friends have been recommending it to me for years. They claim to be the #1 Bloody in Milwaukee, I’ve been curious if it would live up to the hype. So, alas, we finally went.
After I ordered, the bartender pulled a pre-made bloody mary out of a cooler, covered by saran wrap. The straw was even in the glass already, the tip of the paper wrap was still there for sanitation purposes. I thought it was really interesting. Clearly, Steny’s has made their fair share of Bloody Marys. Do they really make that many in a day where they feel the need to pre-make them?
Mix: The place opened in 1985, and it’s said they have never changed their recipe. The bartender was tight-lipped on what’s in it, and I wasn’t in the mood for pressing him. However, I found a tip online that said they use Clamato juice, instead of tomato, for a lighter taste. Good marketing, Mr. + Mrs. Steny. The lighter the bloody mary, the more customers can consume. The mix certainly had a lighter feel than that of one at a Lowlands location. Clamato juice is made from tomatoes, onions, celery, clam juice and other spices (the clam juice is undetectable). Personally, I thought the mix was very good. It was a little spicy but didn’t kick too much. The flavor was great & I would have had two if time allowed.
Garnish: Steny’s isn’t messing around. They garnish their famous drinks with one olive, one pickle spear and a rim of celery salt. Part of me love the over-the-top garnishes (they’re just so fun!) but, at the same time, knowing the history of Steny’s, they’re like “we’re not f-ing around, Milwaukee”. They focus on the mix and that’s that.
Chaser: Yes, a small garnish was included. I got my choice and went with High Life.
Buzz: No buzz from one Bloody Mary, even on an empty stomach and quickly slurping it down. Perhaps I would have caught one on #2. See what I was talking about with marketing?
Size: A bit smaller than most, 12 ounce mug
Cost: You guys… $4. Four. Normally $5, but served at $4 Saturdays and Sundays from 11AM to 6PM. That price can’t be beat.
Bottom line: Steny’s isn’t messing around. With the recipe not changing since 1985, they know what they’re doing. Although they’ve won a ton of contests for best in the city, I encourage you to try it for yourself. I liked it a lot and will certainly go back. I do have other favorites though. Sorry Sten-man.
Certainly, one thing I’ve learned from this quest is that every bartender, at every establishment, makes things differently. Just last week, someone reached out to me stating a recently reviewed bar (who was rated pretty well) was far from the recipe I spoke of. By premixing all bloody marys, Steny’s really has consistency down. No matter who makes it, you’ll always get the same drink. For this, I’m a fan.