On the Go Spice Mixes

Ever go somewhere and order a bloody mary only to find it extremely disappointing? Think airplanes, or a crummy bar who thinks a bloody is just plain tomato juice and vodka? Or do you have an empty fridge, save for tomato juice and vodka, and really want a good bloody mary? Well have no fear, there are now several companies popping up to correct this problem!

To Go Mixes!

While these two companies might be competing for the market, I will not be pitting them against each other in a battle royale in this post. I’m just going to review them as normal. That said, I received both these samples for free, but in no way does that influence my opinion. Instructions are simple, just pour your juice and vodka in a glass, add the spice mixture and stir.

I’m going to start with Chet’s – The Original Bloody Mary Anytime Bloody Mary Seasoning Mix, since I received that one first….back in September…and I’m just trying it now because, well, I suck.

But this mix doesn’t suck! Packaged in a wallet sized packet, Chet’s includes celery salt, Worcestershire Sauce, distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, paprika, sumac salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, horseradish powder and parsley flakes. There is a lot of spice packed in that little portable package, and you can see the red pepper flakes. There is no suggested drink size on the package, but I was using those little cans of tomato juice, that are 5.5 oz and it was way too much mix for that little can. I added a 2nd can, which maybe made it a little too weak, so go with 8oz. The main flavors come from the cayenne pepper and hot pepper flakes, with a tad of celery salt, but it was not overwhelmingly spicy to me. It has a good amount of spice for those who want some heat, but aren’t like me, who could actually use more. Overall the flavor is good, and it makes for a definite improvement to those crummy bloodies you’re trying to avoid. You can buy Chet’s on his website, available in small portable packets, and in a bulk tin for your home bar set up.

Next up, Devil Dave’s Bloody Mary Sticks. Packaged in a long narrow “stick”, Devil Dave’s includes real shaved horseradish, Worcestershire, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, lime, and spices. It is certified vegan and gluten free, if you’re into that stuff. Instructions suggest mixing the packet with 10oz of juice, and add vodka plus whatever garnishes you want. The mix is left more neutral in the spice department so it will appeal to everyone, and you can always add in more of your own preferred heat. I thought I tasted celery salt, but it’s not listed in the ingredients. It’s got a really great balance of flavors, with no one taste overpowering the others, and like Chet’s, it’ll improve any bloody mary you get served.

Devil Dave’s is not yet available for purchase, as he is launching a Kickstarter on January 1st – National Bloody Mary Day! Eventually you will be able to get the mix in the portable sticks, or as a speed mix for your home bar. You can currently fill out a form for a free sample, but he got so overwhelmed with requests, he ran out of samples and the next batch won’t ship until April. Don’t let that stop you though! There are contests running on Devil Dave’s facebook page and head over to the site to watch for the Kickstarter. It’s worth it!

A 2 Brunch Weekend – Patina 250 and Blu Wolf Bistro

The need to use up the last of the year’s vacation days, and J having weekends off for 6 weeks led to taking a Saturday night off to spend together. That meant 2 days of brunches!

We decided to go to Rochester for the night, but before we left Buffalo, we had brunch number 1 at Patina 250 inside the Westin Hotel. They didn’t list a bloody mary on their brunch menu, and who does that?! With a full bar though, of course, they could make one.

Patina 250 bloody mary

Even though it looks like a pint glass, it wasn’t, and for $11 I felt cheated. It was fairly small and as you can see, not mixed very well. I forgot to ask for it spicy, but arrived with a good amount of heat. The main flavor of the drink was pepper, and a lot of it, with a decent amount of celery salt. It was fairly thick, but after getting it properly mixed up, it was pretty decent.

Simple lemon and olive garnish at Patina 250

We had a fun night out in Rochester, seeing some music and checking out a neat bar called The Spirit Room. The next morning we checked out of the hotel and made our way to Blu Wolf Bistro. I left J in charge of finding us a brunch spot and this was his pick. If it sounds familiar, it’s because they were one of the participants in the Rochester Bloody Mary fest. Their offering was the green bloody mary with the crawfish in it! I was a little scared that their normal brunch bloody would be similar but I didn’t need to fear.

Bloody from Blu Wolf Bistro!

Blu Wolf is a busy brunch place that offers buy one get one Bloody Mary and Mimosas (and you can mix the 2, but you have to pay for the more expensive one, no big deal.) Their menu had a ton of good looking dishes, but we both opted for one of the hangover bowls (it was appropriate ha!)

Nothing staring at me this time!

Their standard bloody mary had a nice horseradish flavor, but wasn’t overly spicy otherwise. And that’s ok, since the drinks are made from a big jug of mix to keep up with demand, and you have to cater to the non-spicy brunch crowd. You could probably ask for added spice, but I only had the one so I can’t say for sure. Garnished with a pickle, olive and lime, it was a good classic offering.

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Step Out Buffalo hosted a Makers and Shakers, Boozy Artisan Market yesterday, which featured unicorn mimosas and a bloody mary bar. It was a $5 entry fee, and then $10 for the drink, so after seeing the super long line I passed. The garnish offerings looked pretty decent, if running low, and I did see some shrimp around in other drinks so it may have been worth if if you loaded up on stuff. Maybe next time!

A Bloody Lovers Christmas List!

Do you think Santa drinks Bloody Marys? I like to think so! After a long season of having to crack the whip on all his elves so that the presents are ready for delivery, and then flying around the world for a full 24 hours, he needs to sit back and relax. I bet he gets back to the North Pole, puts the reindeer in the stable, and collapses into his big plush chair with a nice spicy Bloody. And if he spills any, no problem, it blends in with his suit! Santa’s favourite garnish? A candy cane, of course (ew?!)

Children always have a long wish list of gifts they want to see under the tree, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t have fun during the holiday season too. And face it, adults are going to need some liquid relaxation after all the political arguments and family drama.

So for the Bloody Mary lovers in your life, here is a handy list of things they might enjoy. That said, I have nothing to gain from this list, no affiliate links, I don’t know these people. I just thought it would be fun to see what kind of awesome Bloody Mary things are out there. And sure, I’ll take any of them if anyone feels like buying me gifts 😉

For the drinks:


Bloody Mary spice gift box
– $25 – A set of 4 spices to improve your homemade Bloody Marys. Includes celery salt, bacon salt, ghost pepper salt and Berbere, an Ethiopian blend of toasted spices that is traditionally very hot, but made here more mild so everyone can enjoy it. This particular set sounded delightful to me because of variety of flavors it offered.


Bloody Mary Travel Mug
– $8.99 – You’ve seen the travel mugs that say things like “This may be vodka” etc, this time, add the tomato juice! And you can get it personalized, so everyone knows who the Bloody lover in the room is. And if you really want to emulate the true Starbucks experience, you could personalize it with some bastardized version of your name!


Tomato Juice Glasses
– $12 – Not Bloody Mary related per se, but look at these super cute tomato glasses. Not quite shot glass size, but not a full glass, they’re perfect for a beer chaser, if you are one of those kind of Bloody Mary drinkers. Since this is a vintage item, there is only one available, so if you want them jump on them right away!


Bacon Hot Sauce
– $7.99 – LOL Porcus Infernum! Bacon hot sauce with a hilarious name. Can’t vouch for the flavor, but it sounds like a good addition to a Bloody, and if nothing else you can laugh at the name forever. (Other bacon hot sauces also available in this listing).


Bloody Rebellion Spice Mix
– $4.95+ – A nice mix of classic Bloody Mary spices to spruce up your tomato juice at home. Available in a variety of sizes, it comes in a resealable pouch for easy storage.


For the home:


Bloody Mary Bar Sign
– $6.95 – A nice artsy Bloody Mary print for your kitchen or bar area (or bedroom, or wherever!) FYI, It’s an instant download, so you have to get it printed and framed yourself.


Embroidered Bloody Mary Towel
– $15.99 – A cute embroidered kitchen towel with a design from Urban Threads. Choose your color of towel, or if you want the design on some other kind of item, the seller can put it on virtually anything!


Bloody Mary Candle
– $22.95 – Look at this amazing candle! It looks just like a real drink! 7″ tall, the glass can be reused after you burn it, but WHY WOULD YOU? The standard scent is a sweet orange chili, but you can pick another listed scent or work with the seller for something custom.


To wear:

Those that know me know I loooove pins. My purses are always covered in them, but I have yet to sport a Bloody Mary pin. Here are 2 options, both are $10


And if you need something to put the pins on, here are a few shirts

And you can round out your outfit with some jewelry

This seller also has similar designs in earrings and bracelets


For the crafters:


Custom rubber stamp
– $14 – I haven’t used my rubber stamps in years, but if you’re a crafter, you might need this in your collection.


Bloody Mary prayer from Archer cross stitch
– $4 – This hilarious prayer from the show Archer is available as an instant download cross stitch pattern.


Cross stitch kit
– $9.99 – Another version of the prayer, a bit simplified. If you’re a beginner this one comes with everything you need to get started.


Ready made cross stitch prayer
– $20 – And if you’re not crafty at all but still want a cross stitched prayer, you can buy it already made!!

Last but not least, if you have a bunch of money burning a hole in your pocket, there are these:


Custom painted shoes
– $325 – Whaaaat? Custom painted Bloody Mary shoes! They are pretty awesome and well done, but (message to J) don’t buy me these!! I wouldn’t want to wear them and get them all messed up.

That’s it for now. Feel free to check out my Bloody Mary Goodies Etsy collection, where you will find all these items and more as I keep finding new, cool things to add to it.

I hope everyone gets all the Bloody Goodies they want for the holidays!

Rochester Bloody Mary Fest!

I can’t remember if I had mentioned it in previous posts, but Step Out Buffalo decided to ply their trade in Bloody Mary Fests down the thruway in Rochester. I’ve posted at least one drink I’ve had in Rochester, but despite having several friends there, and going to college half hour away, I have not spent all that much time in the next big city down the canal. When the Rochester fest was announced I bought tickets right away, put in for a vacation day, and made plans to have a great afternoon.

The fest was held in the Main Street Armory, which turned out to be SOB’s best venue yet – a big open space that could set up the bars with enough space to accommodate the crowd, with the other vendors in the middle. There was room to walk around and there weren’t big lines running into other big lines, which made for a much more pleasurable experience than Buffalo’s fest at Riverworks this year. 10 Rochester bars participated, and it was the same format as the Buffalo fests – one ticket per bar, and vote for the best overall, the best garnish, and most creative. They scrapped the fancy online voting they used in Buffalo for good old paper ballots in fishbowls, guaranteed to work (since I wasn’t able to get the online vote to work in Buffalo, this was a good change).

After tickets went on sale, SOB decided to offer designated driver/bloody mary hater tickets for $5 like they did for the first Buffalo fest, so I got one of those for J, leaving me with an extra regular ticket. I knew that someone I was friends with in Rochester liked bloody marys and finally I realized who it was. Nan! So I invited her to join us, and we had a great time.

So in the order in which we tasted them, I present the Rochester Bloody Mary Fest (all vodka once again provided by Tommyrotter Distillery):

1. The Revelry
Ingredients – Whole peeled tomato, celery & cucumber juice, hot sauce, curry tincture, Japanese seven spice, Sal De Gusano
Garnish – Sal De Gusano rim, Thyme, Basil

“Blood Runner” by The Revelry

The cucumber taste was immediately noticeable, so for me that’s usually a no go. That said, it wasn’t too bad. It was definitely the spiciest of the 10 offerings, and it had a good balance of salt to the other flavors. It may have been Nan’s favourite.

2. Orbs
Ingredients – Tomato juice, horseradish and worcestershire, thai basil, black pepper, celery salt, lemon, cayenne, Old Bay
Garnish – Chorizo meatball, pickled purple cauliflower, pepper jack cheese cube.

“Orbs Bloody Mary” by….Orbs.

If there was an award for prettiest Bloody Mary, Orbs would win. They just looked gorgeous. I liked the meatball, it had some spice to it, but the drink itself was primarily flavored with horseradish. It was quite strong, and the mix was very sweet.

3. Honeoye Boathouse Grill
Ingredients – Mr & Mrs T’s Mix, worcestershire sauce, A-1, lime, lemon pepper, celery salt, old timer’s horseradish
Garnish – Thai chili shrimp, fried ravioli, chicken cordon bleu ball, wild garlic boneless wing on one skewer. Shrimp, olive, pepperoni, pepperoncini, cheese and pickle on another skewer.

Holy Garnish for a fest!

“The Boat House Morning Antidote” by Honeoye Boathouse Grill

The Boat House definitely had the biggest garnish (but not the craziest, stay tuned) at the fest. J took the Thai shrimp on the skewer, and the plain shrimp in the drink and he said the Thai shrimp was delicious. We had eaten before we left Buffalo, so I wasn’t hungry, and add in all the drinks and I couldn’t finish my garnish. The drink was very sweet again, with a good tomato taste, and it was better than just plain Mr and Mrs T’s. Their sign mentioned 2 other garnishes, a Hawaiian Shrimp skewer with the Thai shrimp, blackened shrimp and pineapple, and an antipasto skewer with spinach artichoke crustini, but I don’t think they were serving either of them. Everyone had the skewer that we got.

4. Cub Room
Ingredients – Fresh horseradish, lemon and lime juice, red wine and cacao nib reduction, house steak sauce, house habanero hot sauce, celery salt, tumeric, Worcestershire, chipotle peppers, kosher salt, black pepper, tomato juice
Garnish – Bacon blue cheese and date meatball.

“Hair of the Wolf” by Cub Room (Apparently I forgot to photograph my sample)

Like Orbs, the Cub drink’s main flavor was from horseradish. It was a bit watery, and despite the long list of ingredients on their sign, it didn’t taste like much. I don’t know how that’s possible, now that I’m looking at the list, but it really didn’t have a strong flavor and I didn’t find it spicy. The meatball was a classic style meatball, and wasn’t bad.

5. Blu Wolf Bistro
Ingredients – Beef stock, green tomatoes, pork rub, tomatillo, garlic oil, hot sauce, cucumber, lime, green peppers, pineapple, jalapeno, roasted garlic, horseradish, baby spinach, cilantro, celery seed, black pepper, dark chili powder, cayenne, Worcestershire
Garnish – Wild boar, cream cheese jalapeno popper, CRAWFISH!!!

“The Celtic” by Blu Wolf Bistro

And the award for most horrifying Bloody Mary goes to *drum roll* Blu Wolf Bistro!!! IT’S STARING AT ME!! IT HAS 8 LEGS and CLAWS!!! Holy crap. I can handle peeled shrimp, but not ocean critters that still have their exoskeletons on (plus a friend once told me crawfish taste like garbage). I was never going to eat it, but had I wanted to, I wouldn’t even know where to start! As for the drink, it was the first green bloody of all the fests. It had a half spiced rim, and itself had a good amount of spice. It was a tad thick, and I can’t say I loved it. It was strong on the tomato flavor, where as my homemade green mix made mostly from tomatillos was tart and better in my opinion. This mixture might be better suited for a gazpacho.

6. Bitter Honey
Ingredients – Tomatillo, peach cordial, habanero, lime
Garnish – chili salt, habanero coin, dehydrated peach, lamb jerky

“Not So Bitter Bloody Mary” by Bitter Honey

Right after the first one, we had another green bloody mary. This one made entirely of tomatillo, I find it hard to consider it a bloody mary. It was delicious, but it tasted like lemonade. It was fruity and sweet, not at all savory even with the meat chunk. I couldn’t detect any spice to it, and maybe they ran out, but the only part of their listed garnish that we got was the lamb jerky. It was refreshing, and I had a 2nd one before we left to reset my mouth from all the tomato, but if I had ordered this expecting and really wanting a savory bloody mary, I’d be sad. It’s totally marketable, but just under some other name.

7. Roam Cafe
Ingredients – House made fresh tomato/veggie juice, fresh horseradish, celery salt, cracked black pepper, hot sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire
Garnish – Pork belly, pickled pepper, Hoisin cucumber

“Belly Up” by Roam Cafe

So even though this drink had an evil cucumber garnish, it was my favorite of the fest. They made the entire mix fresh from scratch with all local ingredients, and you could tell. It tasted nice and fresh with a good balance of flavors. It tasted a bit meaty, and it didn’t have a ton of spice, but it was a solid offering, and it was my vote for Best of Rochester.

8. Black Button Distilling
Ingredients – Original mix, tomato juice, cucumbers, distilled vinegar, sugar, salt, horseradish, fresh garlic, Worcestershire powder, habanero puree, soybean oil, lemon juice, dried onion
Garnish – Pepperoni, cheese curd, olive

“Black Button’s Bold Bloody Mary”

Having just had Black Button’s mix at their Buffalo location, I don’t have much else to say about it. I still don’t love it, and I still can’t quite pin point why, except for the cucumber. If you want more, check out the full review.

9. Nosh
Ingredients – Yellow tomato puree, ground tortilla, onion, garlic, bay, corienader, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, salt, sugar, kimchee spice, Worcestershire, horseradish, olive brine, celery seed, dijon, sriracha
Garnish – Chorizo deviled egg

“Devil’s Dawn” by Nosh

I feel like I would have enjoyed this one more had I drank it earlier in the fest, as by the end you get pretty tired of drinking bloodies (yeah, I know!!). It was a thick orange color and featured a deviled egg that was nicely flavored, apparently with chorizo, but I thought it was from chili powder. The drink itself had a smoky flavor, as if from smoked paprika, but that wasn’t in the ingredients list either, ha! It wasn’t very spicy, but it had a decent flavor.

10. Hogan’s Hideaway
Ingredients – Smoked tomato puree, tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, olive juice, salt, pepper, lime juice, dijon, Tabasco, smoked ice
Garnish – Smoked bacon crumble, smoked salt rim, kale chip

“Smokey Mary” by Hogan’s Hideaway

Sourced from all local ingredients, and smoked this one was a close 2nd on my favourite list from the fest. They use heirloom tomatoes, and while it smelled smoky, it didn’t translate into the drink too much. It was spiced from the horseradish, but I didn’t get much pepper spice from the Tabasco. It might have had too much salt, but it could have just been salt that fell into the drink from the rim. I would do without the kale, as the chip didn’t hold up and just got soggy, and then got in the way of my drinking.

The official winners were:
Most Creative:
3rd – Blu Wolf Bistro (my vote, I think)
2nd – Nosh
1st – Bitter Honey

Best Garnished:
3rd – Blu Wolf Bistro
2nd – ORBS Restaurant and Bar
1st – Honeoye Boathouse Grille (my vote)

Best Bloody Mary:
3rd – Orbs Restaurant and Bar
2nd – Black Button Distilling
1st – The Revelry
(My vote was for Roam)

As a whole, Rochester had a great bunch of bloodies to offer. I liked that it was an open space with room to move, but they didn’t have the “distractions” of the Buffalo fest, like the pinball or craft groups. They had a photo area with props, but no dedicated photographer taking photos there, just people using their phones. If SOB combines the larger space of Rochester, with the added fun of Buffalo, next year’s Buffalo fest could be the best yet!

Me, J and Nan 2017! (boy this photo has weird coloring that I couldn’t fix)

Until next time, Cheers!

Roost

I’ve made it back from Ireland, and it was fantastic!!! We spent a week going from Dublin, up to Belfast and Giant’s Causeway, then down the Wild Atlantic Way to Galway. We got to see so much awesome scenery, and cute little pubs, and for me, a cool U2 exhibit in Dublin.

Countryside at Newgrange – Knowth passage tomb – Cliffs of Moher – Dark Hedges – Giant’s Causeway – Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Ireland is just a gorgeous country. As soon as you get out of the city it’s all farmland, with sheep and cows everywhere, and then little charming town after charming town. I loved it.

I was only able to have one bloody while there (when in Ireland, you drink Guinness!), at a fabulous place called 37 Dawson St in Dublin.

Irish Bloody!

It had a classic Bloody Mary flavor, with crushed ice on top. Solid. My other attempt at a bloody in Belfast was thwarted by laws that don’t allow alcohol to be served before noon. Boo!

But we’re not here to talk about Ireland, we’re here to catch up on a cocktail from before the big trip, at Roost in Buffalo.

Mural at Roost

We met up with a few friends for a double date at Roost a few weeks before the trip. It’s the end of summer, tomato time, and Roost was offering a special cocktail using their bounty of heirloom tomatoes. I didn’t realize it when I ordered it, but it was a fresh made drink, and not a standard bloody mary made with a house made mix.

At the bar at Roost

We watched the bartender throw tomatoes and ice in a blender and blend away. Talk about fresh! It was a frozen drink, spiced with Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, pepper and lemon, and garnished with a tomato wedge.

Fresh and frozen

Made with tequila, it was delicious! It wasn’t very spicy, but dear lord did it have a lovely refreshing fresh taste. Unfortunately Roost changes their menu every month, and since this was being made with the last of their tomatoes, it won’t be available again until next year.

But never fear! They make a standard bloody as well, which my friend ordered, and reported that it was delicious as well.

Standard bloody at Roost

Check it out at dinner, or their brunch, which I hear is fantastic.

Black Button Distilling and VUE

I have gotten behind again, and I’m about to leave for Ireland (!!), so I’m going to combine 2 drinks into one quick post. First up: Black Button Distilling.

Another pub trivia night brought us to Black Button Distilling, which is based in Rochester NY, but has an “outpost” tasting bar in Buffalo. Upon walking in, I immediately saw their bottled Bold Bloody Mary mix for sale.

BOLD Bloody Mary mix from Black Button Distilling

I wasn’t going to order one, because I didn’t much feel like drinking, but I got one anyway. Using their 20 plate vodka and Bold mix, which was created from the owner’s Grandma’s recipe, this $9 cocktail was a bit sweet with a hint of horseradish.

Black Button Distilling

Garnished with lemon and lime, it had a decent amount of spice to it, but it had a flavor I didn’t love. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I drank it anyway, and decided to look at the ingredient list on the jar, and it turns out there are cucumbers in it. That must have been it! I can’t say it stood out strongly as cucumber but it just gave it a general flavor I didn’t care for. I’m sure it would be tasty to someone without such an aversion to cucumbers as I have.

My Bloody with our buzzer. We did not do well.

If you don’t have time for a cocktail, you can stop in and pick up a jar for $10.

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Up next is VUE, the roof top bar at the just opened Curtiss Hotel. The Curtiss Hotel is in a gorgeous old building that sat vacant for years. Located downtown, the bar has great views of City Hall, the Statler, the Liberty Building among others.

Roof top view at Curtiss Hotel

VUE has 3 bars, and the nicest thing, is that there are roofed areas, that are still open and airy, so you can enjoy the lounge even if it was raining. There is a big fire pit as well as other heaters around for use throughout more of the year, though probably not once the snow starts flying.

We approached the bar looking for a cocktail menu, but they didn’t have one…here is a fancy new bar with no cocktail menu? I know it’s a relatively new lounge, but even the simplest menu of classic cocktails would be something. They’ve been open all summer! That was a bit of a turn off, but they say one is coming.

Since there was no menu, I wasn’t really in the mood for anything, so J just ordered me a bloody.

And here is a bad photo.

It’s hard to photograph a drink, at night, with a cell phone, on a light up bar.

I’m not sure how much it cost, but our order of one bloody and one Basil Hayden’s on the rocks was $27. The drink itself was fairly decent, garnished with 3 olives, and no fruit. It was quite spicy, and very pickle-y, almost too much so. Sipping it caused a bit of mouth puckering haha. There was a lot of debris, including pepper and horseradish, but not so much that it wasn’t enjoyable.

Definitely check out VUE, as it’s a great space to relax in, and get a bloody if you like, but I hope they come up with a cocktail menu soon so I can check out something else.

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I have one more review in the back log, which will have to wait until after Ireland. And hopefully when I return, I’ll have a bunch more to write up. Cheers!

Recipe: Green Tomatillo Bloody Mary – 2 ways

I’ve been living in my house for 9 years next week, and one of the best things about owning a house with a nice yard is the ability to have a garden. Besides the “regular” veggies like tomatoes and peppers, I usually plant broccoli, green beans, onions, and cucumbers – even though they are evil and I hate them. Once in a while I plant tomatillos, the main ingredient in salsa verde and other Mexican cuisines. My first foray into tomatillos was an heirloom purple variety I had picked up while visiting friends in Toronto. At the time, no one local was selling started tomatillo plants, and I don’t have good luck with starting seeds on my own, so they were my only choice. They did well, but the fruits tended to fall off before completely ripening into purple, so anything made with them turned into a kind of yucky brown. But they tasted good! They reseeded on their own the following year, but after having so many, and little to do with them, I took a few years off from growing any. This year a local nursery was selling seedlings of the more common green variety so I picked a few up.

Tomatillos (and the last of the beets)

I still don’t know of many things to do with them aside from salsa verde, and a few recipes for soups and stews from Pinterest, but I’ve heard of people using them for Bloody Mary mixes, so I thought I might as well give it a shot. If you haven’t had tomatillos before, they have a bit of a tart taste, which should make for a delightful mix.

The internet provided me with some guidance, and I built my own recipe combining 3 (here, here and here). Some had cucumber (again, evil!), some had cilantro (also evil!), but the basic ideas were the same, and I decided to take 2 approaches – one roasted, and one “plain”.

Tomatillos!

Tomatillos have husks that begin to peel back when the fruit is ripe. Under the husks, the fruit has a stickiness to it, which you probably want to wash off (I did). I cut 5 tomatillos in half horizontally and combined them with olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl to prepare them to grill. Then came the hard part – starting the charcoal. I don’t think I’ve used my grill since the last grilled bloody mary I made, and I always have trouble. I used the charcoal chimney and got it going pretty quickly. While the chimney did it’s thing, I focused on the non-grilled mix.

Lemon Drop cherry tomatoes

I prepped the rest of my ingredients, including lemon drop cherry tomatoes from the garden. It’s best to use yellow or green tomatoes in the mix, so your coloring doesn’t turn into that blah brown I spoke of before. When adding all my ingredients into the blender, I couldn’t find my horseradish. I know I had some, I’m POSITIVE I bought a jar for the last recipe, but it seems to have disappeared. D’oh! So off to the store I went, while the charcoal chimney did it’s work. Once I got my last ingredient, the mixing is easy, and it was time for some grilling.

Grilling veggies

Starting with the cut sides down, I roasted the tomatillos and jalapeno 5 minutes on each side. The tomatillos got pretty soft, so in the end I lost some of the “guts” of the smaller ones. Once time was up, I just threw them all straight from the grill into the blender with the rest of the ingredients and mixed them up.

Gorby and Boris enjoying some tomatillo bloody mary mix.

As you can see, the coloring between the roasted mix (in the Gorbachev shot glass) and the non-roasted mix (in the Boris Yeltsin glass) is a bit different, with Boris being more green. I taste tested them without any alcohol, since I had to go to work.

Non-roasted: Very tart with a good hit of horseradish, and nice tongue tingle from spice.
Roasted: Still tart, but with a sweetness to it brought out from the grilling. Given the rest of the recipe is the same, the spice level is comparable.

The non-roasted mix produced more, filling 2 medium size mason jars, while the roasted mix only produced slightly more than one jar, and it was less thick. I didn’t lose that much tomatillo to the grill, so I’m not totally sure why they were so different. Both mixes are fairly thick, and there are a lot of little seeds in tomatillos (and tomatoes of course), so they could stand to be strained, but that’s up to you (I will be straining it eventually).

In the garden

In the end, I prefer the roasted version. The non-roasted version is much more tart, and the grilling cuts that nicely. The grilled version is much more trouble to make, so if you’re short on time, or you’re like me and often fail in grilling, the non-roasted version is still tasty. You could probably roast the tomatillos under the oven broiler too, if you don’t have a grill.

Either way, it’s nice and refreshing and you can alter it however you like. If you like cucumbers or cilantro, go for it, but remember it’ll taste quite a bit different. Add more peppers or hot sauce if you love the heat, or leave them out completely. When you make your own mix, you can do whatever you want! Enjoy!

Tomatillo Bloody Mary – 2 ways

Ingredients

  • 5 tomatillos – husked and cut in half horizontally
  • 7oz yellow or green tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp celery salt/celery seeds (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp favorite hot sauce (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup water

For the roasted mix: Halve the tomatillos and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast with the halved jalapeno for 5 minutes per side.

For the roasted and regular mix: Combine all ingredients in a blender, and puree. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. If the mix is too thick, add more water, and/or strain through a fine mesh strainer. Chill mix before serving. *Remember* grilled items WILL BE HOT, so BE CAREFUL and let cool before blending.

Garnish as desired, and enjoy!

Grilled beets

Since the grill was going, I grilled the beets as well. Why not?

Cask and Cow

This week I was really excited, because we were going to Artpark in Lewiston to see Garbage and Blondie on the Rage and Rapture tour. I had first seen Garbage open for U2 on the Elevation tour in October 2001 (which is one of my top 5 concerts ever), and they were so impressive, I’ve been waiting all these years to see them again. I love Shirley Manson, I wouldn’t mind being her! And Blondie, she’s a legend, and while I may not be familiar with her catalog, her big songs are inescapable.

Lewiston’s Center Street is full of little shops and restaurants, including several new ones. Before (and after) the concert we stopped into the new Brickyard Brewing Company, next door to the original Brickyard restaurant. The restaurant is a BBQ restaurant, but the brewery has a completely different menu of gastropub style foods. We tried the fried gnoche (excellent!), fried green tomatoes, shrimp po boy, a fancy grilled cheese sandwich, and on our return visit, the bacon nan. Everything was delicious, and they offer a chicken and waffle dish that I must try at some point, I just wasn’t hungry enough for it that day. We tasted 9 of their beers, and were happy with all of them.

Upon walking back to my car to head home, I realized I was parked across the street from Cask and Cow, a new restaurant that I had “liked” on facebook, but had no idea where it was located. It is so new, it was actually their first day open! By this point it was midnight, so the kitchen was closed, but we relaxed at the bar with a few drinks. J gave his usual spiel, asking the bartender Sarah (spelled wrong!!! No Hs needed! 🙂 ) if she could make me a bloody. This got her nervous and she almost didn’t want to do it!

Cask and Cow’s Bloody Mary

Served in a pint glass rimmed with smoked paprika and kosher salt, the drink was garnished with lemon, lime and 3 olives. Sarah won points by asking if I preferred Tabasco or Frank’s Hot Sauce, since I never want Frank’s! It was very spicy, with a strong tomato flavor, and it was a good classic Bloody Mary. After a few sips Sarah (god it’s so hard to type it that way!) realized she forgot her secret ingredient!! So she took it back!

Oh no she forgot the secret ingredient!

She added her secret and asked what I thought before she told what it was. It didn’t change it with any strong flavor, like say pickle juice or horseradish would, but it definitely cut the strength of the tomato flavor. What was the secret? A splash of pineapple juice. After knowing what it was, I could detect a slight sweetness to the drink, and the cut in the acidity of the tomato created a good balance of flavors.

We don’t get out to Lewiston too much, even though it’s not far away, but we’ll have to go back soon to try the menu at Cask and Cow, as well as the chicken and waffles at Brickyard Brewery. And the show?!? It was great! We were too far away for me to get really excited and into it, but Garbage looked and sounded great, and Blondie, at 72 years old (!!) still rocked it. It was my first time for an outdoor concert at Artpark (I graduated high school in the auditorium, as well as seeing concerts and plays inside, and selling my art at ARTsPARKed) and it was a great space, like a natural ampitheatre. I’d definitely go again for a band I want to see.

*update* Cask and Cow is now featuring a fancy Bloody Mary with a slider garnish. Guess that means I’ll have to go back!

Deerhead Lakeside Restaurant

It’s July, and that means baby goats at Lively Run Dairy! So we made ANOTHER trip out to Cayuga Lake to visit the goats, and taste some wines. (We skipped the 15 scoops of ice cream this time!) The goats were awesome, of course, and there was even a baby that had been born an hour before we got there!

Mama and her 1 HOUR old baby!

It was a wonderful time, and I highly recommend it….again…. 🙂

We visited 3 wineries, Thirsty Owl Winery, Hosmer Winery, and Buttonwood Winery. After our tasting at the last one, we opened up our picnic lunch on their covered porch, as it was raining, and they didn’t mind people hanging out even though they were closing. Another couple was enjoying some wine on the patio as well, and it turns out they own the Deerhead Lakeside Restaurant in Seneca Falls.

After finishing our meal, chatting with them, and finding out they offered a bloody mary we decided to stop by and try it out. Taylor was behind the bar at the restaurant, which has a great view of the lake out the back of the dining area. We told her owners Craig and his wife (I’m sorry I forgot your name!) promised she’d make me a good drink, and she took on the challenge.

Deerhead bloody mary!

Served in a stemless hurricane type glass, the drink had a spiced rim and was garnished with celery, lemon, cherry tomato and freshly cooked shrimp. It had a very tomato-y taste, and was very spicy! Taylor may have used a pepper vodka in it – I remember it being discussed but I’m not sure if it was used – and she added horseradish and lemon to compliment the shrimp. It was a tasty offering, from a menu that had many good looking drinks. If we lived closer, or didn’t have to drive anywhere, we’d drink the menu.

Garnish game!

Since we had just eaten our picnic sandwiches, we weren’t hungry and didn’t try any of their food but the menu had many creative looking dishes, as well as standard plates. I look forward to visiting it again in the future, on another trip to see the goats surely!

Nietzsche’s and a mix review

I’ve made it to the last of my back log of drinks!

First up – Nietzche’s. Nietzsche’s is a dive bar and music venue on Allen St in Buffalo. We are frequent visitors on Wednesday nights to hear our friend Kathryn Koch play her music, among other nights for music J likes to hear, as they have live music 365! Kathryn and I joke that we are friends because we hate the same things, but Bloody Marys are one thing we both agree on – they are delicious.

In all our visits to Nietzsche’s I never once thought to order a Bloody. Mostly because they are not the type of bar to make one, and I didn’t think they’d have the ingredients. However on this particular night, someone else at the bar asked for one, and I was amazed to see it was something they could make. That meant I had to have one too.

The other reason I never ordered one is the bartenders. Wednesday nights used to have Nancy behind the bar, and while we loved Nancy, she didn’t seem the type to do much more than pour beers and Jack and Cokes. Then one day Nancy wasn’t there anymore, and Dana took over. Dana is a great bartender, someone could be whipping up $12 craft cocktails full of things you’ve never heard of before, and she could be trusted to make me a good Bloody.

If you turn the lights off in Nietzsche’s it doesn’t get much darker

This pint glass drink, garnished with lemon and lime, was fantastic! She was out of some ingredients, so someone from the bar went across the street to get her some spices. The drink was spicy from Worchestershire, citrus-y, and garlic-y, and Kathryn agreed that it tasted the way a Bloody should taste. Dana said she needed dill, but too much might have ruined it a bit for me. It was a great and unexpected cocktail from a bar not particularly famous for mixed drinks.

**

We stayed in one night during vacation, and I decided to try the ADK Bloody Mary Tonic that I picked up at the Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest a few months ago. They offer a spicy and regular version, and I tried the spicy this time.

My awesome hand painted Bloody Mary glass!

I realize I did not take notes on the mix, as I thought I’d be able to remember how it was. I didn’t think it would take me this long to get around to writing about it. I’ll leave it at this – it is a decent offering for a jarred mix, but nothing super spectacular. I finally got to try my meat straws too (they work!) along with some bacon and spicy green bean garnish. I didn’t find it all that spicy, so when I had it again a few weeks later I jazzed it up with some other hot sauces from the fridge. Give it a try if you see it in a store.

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