|2014 East Side Tomato Romp|
|Blogs - Alcoholmanac Blog|
Written and Photographed by Cameron Teske
Birthdays, anniversaries and even the first day of the NFL be damned—the East Side Tomato Romp is the greatest day of the year! For eight years running, this Bloody Mary festival has been a wildly popular contest for North Avenue bars to show off the art of concocting the perfect blend of tomato juice, vodka and spices.
Fourteen bars participated at this year's event on Saturday, September 13. All were required to use the same chosen base vodka, Skyy, and serve the same official chaser, Milwaukee Brewing Company’s Outboard. No complaints there!
Tomato Romp 2014 Play-by-Play
10:00am. The buzz surrounding the registration table in front of Beans & Barley has become an annually familiar sound that can only mean one thing—hundreds of people are preparing for a Bloody-Mary-filled day. Some groups are strategizing how to make it to fourteen bars in the 4-hour allotted time frame. After overhearing some quick calculations, there’s a simple answer: 17.15 minutes per bar. Alarms are set. Others soak up the last of the summer sun. Today has become a symbolic transition into autumn in Milwaukee. The smell of pumpkin wafts from coffee cups throughout the crowd. Others nurse hangovers and grab a quick, greasy breakfast from the McDonald's down the road, passing time until they can snatch at the hair of the dog that bit them the night before. The crowd disperses. Bartenders make last minute preparations and watch the clock tick down the final seconds.
11:00am. The first official Bloody Mary of the 2014 Tomato Romp is poured. I chose Hotch Spot to kick off my annual fest. A good first choice. Starting the morning with some spicy zing in my cup sets the bar (pun intended) for the rest of the day. We move on to the next venue, grab a Bloody and a chaser, enjoy and analyze the tomatoey cocktail, and repeat for the next few hours.
Some of the Bloody Marys are sweet with what I deem to be a hint of maple syrup (G-Daddy’s BBC), some have a smoky flavor (Replay), and others go heavy on the chili powder (Hooligan’s). My personal favorite was served at Divino, where they used a vodka that had been house-infused with basil for three days. All of them unique, all of them delicious!
3:00pm. Ballots must be turned in to tally up the crowd favorite. Judges deliberate on their final decision. Rompers continue visiting the local establishments. Bars wait in anticipation of the announcement of who will be crowned the 2014 Tomato Romp Best Bloody Mary.
4:00pm. Attendees gather in anticipation as the big announcement is made … Yield Bar sweeps the 2014 Tomato Romp, winning over the people to earn crowd favorite and impressing the judges to be awarded the Best Bloody Mary. According to The East Side Facebook page, Yield’s Patrick Kapple infused the vodka with homegrown peppers from his own garden. That’s how to drink local!
Another successful Tomato Romp. Until next year, Rompers, keep supporting these East Side establishments.