Bloody good

If you live in Minneapolis and appreciate a good Bloody Mary, there’s a strong chance you’ve got a pint glass from the Uptown Bar & Café in your cupboard.

Even if you’re not from around here, you might have come across one of the glasses somewhere. The Uptown Bar & Café’s day manager, Mike Staab, said he’s seen them as far out as Chicago, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. The glasses can probably be found the world over.

That’s what happens when you sell 1,600 Bloody Marys a week and give away a pint glass with each initial purchase, which the Uptown Bar & Cafe has done for more than two decades.  

“I think we lose a little bit of money giving the glass away, but it’s good advertising, too,” Staab said.

That’s true, but making a fantastic Bloody Mary is probably the best way to get the word out, and Uptown’s renowned dive bar, breakfast joint and music venue delivers on that. Well, sort of, since they only partially make the drink.

The bar’s best-selling beverage (the only other drink that comes anywhere close in sales is PBR) actually comes from a mix. But it’s not just any mix. It’s a secret blend — and for good reason.

Consistency and spice are important features in a Bloody Mary and this one gets it right. It’s thick, but not grossly so, and it’s got a good zip that won’t leave you breathing flames.

If you want something with a little more kick, bartenders will add a teaspoon of grade-A horseradish. But the drink really doesn’t need it, and the Uptown Bar & Café’s sales are proof enough that whatever is in the Bloody Marys besides the shot of rail vodka (customers can request otherwise), it’s a winning combination.     

Staab said the bar used to have a contract with the mix maker that didn’t allow the blend to be sold within a certain-mile radius. That contract is dead, but the secret is still locked up as tight as ever.

“I just don’t want the other restaurants using it,” Staab said. “It’s a very good mix.”

It’s so good that it deserves a special pickle, which Staab orders exclusively from Vienna (the brand). The bar goes through eight five-gallon buckets of the pickles each week. It’s the only garnish. No beef sticks or celery here.

Other non-secret details are a glass rim topped with lime juice and celery salt and a three-ounce chaser of Grain Belt Premium beer.

One Bloody Mary at the Uptown Bar & Café will cost you $6.25, which gets you a glass. Refills are $4.95. The free-glass special runs until 9 p.m. daily, Staab said.

So if you’re looking for a morning or afternoon drink that’s a step above the average cocktail, or if you’re just in need of some glassware, this Bloody Mary is a satisfying option — one that has deservedly gained recognition well beyond Minneapolis.

“I don’t want to change it one bit,” Staab said. “That’s why I keep the same mix. I keep the same pickle even. I don’t want to change anything about it.”

Reach Jake Weyer at 436-4367 or [email protected].


Uptown Bar & Cafe

3018 Hennepin Ave.