About the only thing in the State of Wisconsin that can trump supper club culture is tavern culture. Drinking and socializing is a long held tradition for the residents that derives from our German and Polish immigrants. but Tavern Culture is certainly not drinking to excess. Its about community, enjoying the company of others while imbibing in a refreshing beverage. If there is ever a tavern that exhibits community it would be Tom’s Burned Down Cafe in LaPointe, WI.
LaPointe is a small town located on Madeline Island in the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior. Two miles off the coast of Bayfield, the island is accessible by ferry. LaPointe has a long and varied history ranging from Native American sacred grounds to fur trapping outpost, to summertime vacation spot. Fur and fishing are no longer economically viable for the community, so tourism is its biggest draw.
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Tom’s Burned Down Cafe is an electric mix of tourists and locals combined with political and philosophical messages scrawled over every solid bit of the bar. The cafe has burned down, not once but twice. Instead of closing up shop, though, the owners moved forward by erecting a giant canvas tarp over a makeshift bar. The open air feel is perfect for the island culture and affords benefits such as great views and skirting the regulations of the State’s smoking ban. Oh yeah, the place is also pet friendly, you’ll often see local dogs wandering around the bar. Most weekends in the summer you can find live entertainment and crowds packing the place, having a great time.
Tom’s features a wide selection of regional beers. Everything is in bottles, no taps at this place. I really enjoy drinking a Spotted Cow from New Glarus, one of the southernmost breweries in the state at the northernmost tavern in the state. How else can you make a connection like that but in Madeline Island.
Tom’s is open by 11:00am most days, and my favorite pre-lunch drink is the bloody mary. This bar has the best bloody marys I have ever tasted. They are spicy, but not overpowering. The bartenders don’t skimp on the alcohol, and the garnish is perfect. Instead of a ‘buffet in a glass’ that most taverns treat a bloody mary as, Tom’s prefers to give you a spicy dill pickle and pickled pepperoncini. My recommendation, two bloodys with a beer chaser and you are ready to tackle the day’s activities on the island.
- 2 jiggers vodka
- splash worcestershire
- splash red hot or tabasco
- celery salt
- Tomato Juice or V8 juice
Fill with ice a large pint glass or jar. Add vodka and other ingredients. Top with juice. Stir and garnish with pickle or celery.
What’s your favorite bloody mary bar in Wisconsin? Leave us a comment so we can check it out.