The Bloody Trail – A Book Review

The Bloody Trail, In quest of the best Wisconsin bloody Mary’s

Author: Susan Fiebig

Publisher: Orange Hat

The Bloody Trail Book Review
The Bloody Trail, Susan Fiebig

When I heard that a fellow Wisconsinite had written an entire book about her travels in search of good bloody Mary’s, well I had to read it. What Susan Fiebig has created is a travel guide. Her passion and appreciation for a quality bloody Mary experience shines through in this 44 page guide to her favorite spots around the state to enjoy the queen of cocktails.

One might be tempted to call this a coffee table book because of its light nature and abundance of pictures, but make no mistake: this book is built to travel.  Filled with photographs of the drinks, sketches of the establishments themselves, and detailed descriptions of the experience at each of the eleven bars and restaurants, the book will inspire you to follow her footsteps. I’d advise mixing a bloody Mary before you start reading. Your mouth will water as you take it all in.

Bloody Mary Score Card
Bloody Mary Score Card


Susan, “gets it,” when it comes to bloody Mary’s. After a little historical background of the cocktail, the author dives right into laying out the criteria for rating a bloody Mary. You may or may not agree with how each item is weighted, but one must appreciate that she captures the important points and gives them their due.  The glass, rim salt, how the drink is mixed, how it is garnished, presentation, taste, and the all important Wisconsin standard, the beer chaser, all are taken into account.

Susan and her partner rate these cocktails at least twice.  More than just an excuse to drink more, she wants to allow for minor variations from forces like a new bartender or one having a bad day.  While she doesn’t divulge exactly how many different bloody’s were considered before selecting these top eleven, it’s clear that she draws from a large sample.  (My kind of lady!)


The meat of this guide, comprising over half of its pages, is eleven critiques.  Each of the bloody Mary’s gets a two page write-up.  It includes a detailed description of the drink itself, how it was rated, a photograph of the bloody, a nice description of the bar or restaurant in which it was served, and sketch of the building by illustrator Jesse Roelke. (This was one of my favorite parts of the book. Points for unique artwork!)

We won’t spoil anything by sharing the top eleven, but a map in the book shows a geographic spread ranging from Madison to Sturgeon Bay, to Milwaukee.  Susan’s quest is only beginning with this first guide.  The last section of the book invites readers to join in the creation of the next edition.  Six scorecards are included in the appendix. Readers are encouraged to take the guide-book out into the field and join in the research.  She even includes a postage paid post card for your top choice to be included in the next edition.  My head has been throbbing all week as I tirelessly pursue this challenge.

I highly recommend picking this book up and getting involved in Susan’s quest -a quest that holds purveyors of bloody Mary’s to a higher standard.  When the bloody Mary bar is raised, we all win.

Learn more about the author, her quest, the book, and how to buy it on her website,  The Bloody


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