Hot Mama’s – the Return of Val!

When I started my Bloody Mary journey several years ago, there was stiff competition for my favourite local Bloody between Roxy at Essex Street Pub and Val at Rohall’s Corner. But then Roxy “retired” from bar tending to become a nurse, and Val opened her own bar, but didn’t craft cocktails anymore. And while Val’s bar, Hot Mama’s Canteen, still had a good Bloody type drink available, it just wasn’t the same.

But wait! We’ve gone to Hot Mama’s a few times recently to see our friends’ band The Healing Committee play and Val has been there! While she wasn’t really tending bar, she was around and I asked if she could make me a drink I could properly review for the website, and she obliged.

Val’s Bloody!!

Like I mentioned in my previous post about Hot Mama’s, when asking Val for a drink, be prepared to be faced with a variety of options on how she should make it – classic, fruity, meaty etc. And again, I didn’t know what to choose! I let her make the choice, basically going with a spicy classic.

Be careful – if you’re not into spice, make sure you make that clear. Because it. is. spicy! Garnished with their famous Fire Pickle wrapped in capicola the drink is spiced up with 2 kinds of Val’s Headstone Heat Hot Sauce (Mexican Aftershock and All American Sauce) and habanero sea salt (made in house from ingredients that go into the hot sauces).

Capicola wrapped Fire Pickle

Also garnished with an olive and lemon slice, this drink is spicy yet fruity (from a secret ingredient!), sweet and bright, with a fresh tomato taste brought out by citrus, and a tad of Guinness to bring it all together. Made fresh, to order, from a homemade mix, it’s definitely worth checking out. But bring a straw. Hot Mama’s has gone straw-less, and while for basic drinks straws aren’t necessary, for a Bloody it’s kinda needed. Or you can buy one of their reusable stainless steel straws for an extra…$1.50ish…which is then yours to keep and reuse.

Also, if you’re into hot sauces, stop in and pick up any of the varieties of Headstone Heat sauces. In fact, a good day to do that would be June 12th, when you can check out The Healing Committee, be in a video, eat some tasty food and get some great drinks! See you there!

4th Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest

Happy New Year!!!

What?

It’s March?

When did that happen?

Where have I been, you ask? On the couch mostly. I know it’s been months since I last posted but I haven’t really had any drinks to share. J and I did go to brunch at the reopened Providence Social, and I did have a bloody, but it just really wasn’t worth posting about. Then I participated in “Dry January” – that whole thing where you don’t drink alcohol for a month after the holidays. And the February just went POOF in a cloud of smoke. So here we are, March, and March brings the annual Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest, now in it’s 4th year (3rd at Riverworks).

The stars aligned this year and fest veteran Jeff not only got tickets in time this year (thanks to his fiance Kelly) but did not skip town like last year. So the 4 of us made our way to Riverworks fashionably late in order to avoid any massive lines.

This year’s 10 bars again had some repeats (Rusty Nickel, Black Button, Burning Buffalo, Acropolis) and some newbies (Panorama on 7, Soho, Casa Azul, Garage Cafe, Terrace at Delaware Park, Frankie Primos +39), and only one of the n00bs had I tried before (Panorama on 7). So let’s dig in!

Panorama on 7
Ingredients: Tomato juice, lemon & lime juice, pineapple juice, olive juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco, Frank’s hot sauce, horseradish, celery salt, black pepper, garlic powder
Garnish: Mini chicken and waffle slider, chipotle honey drizzle

Bloody Clucking Mary from Panorama on 7

The only restaurant new to the fest that I’d had before was Panorama on 7, but there was no chicken and waffle slider that time! This was the first drink we tried when we got to Riverworks, and it held up as the best throughout the rest of our sampling. It was spicy and tangy, with a great garnish, yet stayed “classic” in flavor. (They ended up winning Best Of this year.)

Rusty Nickel Brewing Co.
Ingredients: House Bloody mix, Maiti flavoring, pineapple juice, sweet jerk salsa puree, blend of hot sauces, RNBC “Tropical Slice O’ That” Beer
Garnish: Celery stick, lime wedge, chilled pineapple cube, sweet gerkin pickle, pickled cheery pepper, pepperjack cheese cube, coconut shrimp, pineapple glazed ham cube, dark sweet cherry, Paula’s toasted coconut donut

Mahalo Nani from Rusty Nickel Brewing

I gotta give Rusty Nickel credit. They’ve been at every fest at Riverworks (honestly, I can’t remember if they were at the 1st one at Shea’s) and they’ve given a different Bloody every year. This year was a sort of Hawaiian take, with pineapple and ham, along with other tropical flavors. The drink was very spicy but also sweet, with their “go above and beyond” garnish like previous years. That said, did I like it? Not really. It may be good to some people, but it was just too sweet for me.

Rusty Nickel always has a creative sign too

Black Button Distilling
Ingredients: Tomato Juice, cucumber, horseradish, habanero puree, Worcestershire, garlic, onion, lemon juice
Garnish: Cucumber chunks, halved grape tomatoes and fresh dill, tossed in a vinaigrette

An in focus photo would not make this any better.

This was my 3rd try of Black Button’s Bloody mix, and I still don’t like it. Had it in their tasting room, had it at last year’s fest, had it at this fest, and it still tastes too cucumber-y/dill-y for me. In case I haven’t mentioned it before (I have.) I HATE cucumbers, so nothing about this drink was appealing to me.

Garage Cafe
Ingredients: Tomato juice, celery juice, GCL Seasonings, sriracha
Garnish: Mini cinnamon roll, sausage, carrot, cheese, olive

The Garage Tune Up Bloody Mary

The first newbie of the day, The Garage is a cafe that opened up in an old mechanic’s shop on Hertel Ave last year. They are famous for their huge cinnamon rolls on the weekends, but I had yet to have one as we’ve only ever gone for late breakfasts during the week. This was my chance to taste test a mini cinnamon roll, and boy was it good. Sadly though, the drink was not great. It was pretty watery and mild in flavor. It acted as a kind of inoffensive palate cleanser between the horrendous cucumber monstrosity that came before it and the “nope” that came after.

Acropolis
Ingredients: Tomato juice, red & yellow pepper, cucumber, carrot, clam juice, olive juice, horseradish, crab meat, garlic, lemon pepper, celery salt
Garnish: House pickled celery and carrot, lemon, pepperoni, dusted with KTB’s seasoning rub

KTB’s Bucking Bloody

Given the many ingredients in this drink, it tasted like water with a bit of horseradish. Contrasting with their previous year’s drink, it’s like they went to the other side of the coin, from too strong, to nothing. Nope. Next.

Burning Buffalo
Ingredients: V8 juice, Worcestershire, horseradish, Tabasco, black pepper, celery salt, smoke
Garnish: Smoked gouda, tomato, salami, pickled celery

Burning Buffalo Bloody Mary

Defending champ Burning Buffalo put up the same drink as last year with a slightly different garnish. Like last year, and like what you’ll get ordering one at their restaurant, it’s a quality Bloody Mary with strong horseradish and a good amount of spice. However, mine seemed a bit too salty, like someone was a little heavy handed with the celery salt.

Soho
Ingredients: Tomato juice, celery salt, Italian black pepper, Frank’s hot sauce, Worcestershire, horseradish, jalapeno juice
Garnish: Spanish stuffed queen olive, kosher dill pickle

Soho Bloody

Certainly the most boring looking of the day, Soho’s offering was a pretty basic, standard, Bloody. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that interesting either. There was a hint of horseradish, but overall pretty plain. Their simple garnish was drowning in the drink, and I’m not sure mine had the stated pickle on my skewer with the olive.

Casa Azul
Ingredients: Charred fresh tomato, jalapeno, sweet Vidalia onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, Worcestershire, Casa habanero/garlic hot sauce
Garnish: Tajin rim, poblano chip mustache

Charred Mary

Casa Azul has great tacos. Casa Azul has great margaritas. Casa Azul’s Bloody Mary would make a great salsa. Because that’s basically what it was: a cocktail that was blended more than a salsa, but not enough to be a drink. The poblano chip mustache was a cute, creative piece of flair, but was pretty stale by the time we got around to their table. I liked the flavor, but like I said, it’d be better left chunky in a bowl with some fresh tortilla chips. (However, in a comment conversation on my Instagram, another fest attendee said their sample was too watery. Perhaps we got the bottom of the barrel after all the ingredients had settled? Would that make it better or worse?)

Terrace at Delaware Park
Ingredients: Tomato juice, Clamato juice, peperoncini juice, lemon juice, horseradish, Crystal hot sauce, Old Bay spice
Garnish: Old Bay spice, poached shrimp, pickled green beans, pickled jalapeno

Shrimp Cocktail

The Terrace at Delaware Park is a great space in the summer, inside the Marcy Casino on Hoyt Lake. We’ve visited for a few tap takeovers, but haven’t been there since they became a fully functioning restaurant. Their drink was thin and watery, but not terrible. It had a horseradish flavor that combined with something else to make it really truly taste like a shrimp cocktail, where other horseradish based Bloodies do not. I think mine only had shrimp and lemon for garnish, as there was no hint of anything green floating around in there.

Frankie Primo’s +39
Ingredients:

Garnish:

Drink: When we got upstairs at Riverworks to try the 4 remaining bars, Frankie Primo’s was out of drinks and had a growing line (I had flashbacks to the first fest at Riverworks, felt a tightening in my chest lol). While a few places were quickly pouring a new stock of drinks, or putting together extra garnishes, they were the only ones who were completely out of anything for people to try. They were also moving like molasses in preparing new drinks. So was it good?

Who knows, cuz like annoyed impatient Dumbledore here, we were not about to wait to find out.

We finished up with J’s typical bottle of champagne and glass of orange juice, since once again he did not partake in any Bloodies.

Besides the drinks, there were no DIY crafts this year, but instead they replaced it with some live entertainment. We missed the Bloody chugging contest (gross?!?) but they also had a Make Your Best Bloody contest where people who signed up had 5 minutes to use a host of provided ingredients to make their best cocktail. The trick was, you could only use one ingredient at a time, so no hoarding all the hot sauces or garnishes. You couldn’t take something else til you put back your previous item. I might have signed up to try had I known about it. Maybe next year.

Rusty Nickel always has garnish game.

Get ready, get set….

We had a good time, but mostly it was from hanging out together, and not because the drinks were particularly good. This was the first year where I didn’t drink the majority of what was offered. Previous years, unless something was really heinous (looking at you, cucumbers) I’d finish each drink. But this year I found myself tossing drink after drink. Have I lost my taste for Bloody Marys? (Admittedly, I have not been in the mood for them recently.) Were the drinks on offer that bad this year? Was there a quality control issue, and we were getting watered down drinks because the bars were trying to stretch their mix? I don’t know. I do know, and I’ll say it yet again, that Step Out Buffalo needs to resurrect their cheap Non-Bloody drinker ticket, because $45 for J not to drink any of the Bloodies is just too much, and honestly I might take next year off.

Jeff, Kelly, J and me 2019

The BQC 2018 Christmas Shopping List

Where did the year go? I feel like I just prepared last year’s Christmas gift post! But here it is, Black Friday already, and after a great Thanksgiving dinner at Hotel Henry, it’s time to buckle down and whip out the shopping list.

(Reminder: I do this out of the goodness of my heart, and I do not earn any commission from any of these gift suggestions.)

Uncommon Goods sent me a catalog for some reason. How they got my address, I’m not sure, as I’ve never ordered from them but alas, their marketing worked and I went to their website to shop. My browsing turned up two cute Bloody Mary items:

Bloody Mary Cocktail Branches – $18 – Tired of your garnishes sinking into your drink? Then get this set of two stainless steel picks to hold ’em up. Bonus: They are made here in Buffalo NY!

Bloody Mary Diagram Glassware – $25 set of 2 – In case you forget how to make a classic Bloody Mary, these glasses will help you out (but shame on you for having to refer to them!!)

If you need to clean up after making your Bloody in those fancy glasses, with a ton of garnishes on the branch, here are a few good options.

Perfect Bloody Mary recipe tea towel – $18 – This towel is a super cute hand drawn Bloody Mary recipe (in case you forgot the recipe AND broke your fancy glasses from above). Even if you don’t need a recipe, it’ll look great in your kitchen or bar area.

Fighting Garnishes tea towel – $18 – Sometimes the garnishes just have enough of each other. Hand-screenprinted for your viewing pleasure.

Need something to wear to brunch? I got ya.

Vintage Graphic Bloody Mary T-shirt – $23.50 – soft, light weight and unisex, the perfect gift for everyone!

It’s What’s For Breakfast t-shirt – $22 – It may be what’s for breakfast but we all know it’s also what’s for lunch and dinner too.

Just need something small? Have a few stocking stuffers.

Bloody Mary Keychain – $4.50 – This is such a cute little embroidered key chain, any Bloody love would adore it.

Bloody Mary Bar Print – $5 – Running out of time to get someone a gift? This cute print is an instant download. Just get this pdf printed on a quality paper, get a cheap frame, and voila. Some nice wall art!

Don’t forget to check out last year’s list, or my Etsy Collection, as many if not all of the gift ideas are still available.

Happy Holidays and have a Bloody for me!

Chill 443

I am so bad at updating in a timely manner. My deepest apologies for all of you many readers who have been waiting for more bloodies.

For all those who have been waiting with baited breath, here you go. Chill 443 is a new restaurant that opened inside the Wyndham Garden hotel in Niagara Falls, NY. The building recently went through a renovation to turn the icky Days Inn with a Denny’s downstairs into the fancy Wyndham with Chill 443 for your drinking and dining pleasure. We started going late in the summer as they started hosting Trivia With A Twist pub trivia nights. They are a new company out of Ohio who just expanded their trivia services into WNY. I must toot my/our own horn here and admit that we take first place quite often. Often, as in, every time we’ve gone. So we keep winning gift certificates, and keep going back. Plus the food is decent, the beer selection is good, and they give a discount to locals.

Our last visit I noticed they had a fully stocked selection of Bloody Mary garnishes, so I asked our friendly bartender Richard Phil (he looks like a Richard!) to make me up a drink.

Chill 443

Chill features a house made mix that they spike with vodka to preserve. It was garlicky and spicy with a secret ingredient: pineapple. I’ve had a few others with pineapple before, and if done right, it does provide an interesting addition to the overall taste. Too much makes it too sweet for me, but this one had the right balance. Garnished with 2 strips of crispy bacon, 3 olives (one stuffed with blue cheese), and pepperoncini this cocktail was much better than I was expecting from a hotel bar on a Wednesday. Bravo to Phil (who also made me a great bourbon cocktail because I wanted to try walnut bitters, and I don’t even like bourbon.)

Stop in and check them out if you’re near by. And if it’s a Wednesday, prepare to get your butt kicked 🙂

St Louis Take 2

This is Josephine:

Josephine, also known as Jojocat 5000

Jojo is J’s cat, but she’s been living with me since July because we decided to take the big step and live together. 😮 Now my cat Mr Kitty and Jojo didn’t really get along, but it wasn’t a big deal. But then Jojo got outside 2 days before we were supposed to go visit my aunt in St Louis. J decided to stay home to find Jojo, so I had to go to St Louis alone.

I drowned my sorrows in Budweiser, 4 Hands, and Urban Chestnut beers, plus bloodies!

West End Grill

My aunt and uncle took me to West End Grill and Pub during my last visit, their favorite local hang out, but this time we went for some pub trivia. My aunt and I were joined by a few of her friends, and we won a few rounds, but came in 2nd overall. Along with my dinner, I tried their Bloody Martini. Served in a stemless martini glass, with a salt rim, it was a good standard bloody. It may have had more alcohol than usual, given that it was a martini, but apparently I did not take any notes, and now I don’t remember!

While I didn’t research new places to get bloodies at this time, we still stumbled upon a few during our travels. We caught lunch at Half and Half, and ordered this beauty.

Half and Half

Honestly, I was not expecting that much, as it did not have any description, but it arrived with a fried pickle! That was a nice surprise, along with the fact that it had a really great taste. Good tomato flavor, with a bit of a tang, and the right amount of spice it was really well balanced and enjoyable.

My last night in St Louis brought us to Evangeline’s, a Creole/Cajun restaurant also near my aunt’s house. We only stopped in for drinks, but since I was a tad hungry I decided to go for the Cajun shrimp spear in their Creole bloody mary. I’m not usually a huge fan of shrimp, but when it’s flavored like coconut fried shrimp, or these Cajun shrimp, I’m down. It was listed at $4 extra, so I was expecting 3 shrimp. Instead it was actually $6 extra dollars, and came with 6 big shrimp!

Evangeline’s

For $9 without any shrimp, it was also garnished with pickled okra, olives, and a spiced rim. The drink had a lot of spice and tartness, and made for a solid drink.

Unfortunately I came home from St Louis and Josephine was still missing. A few days after I got back I spotted her in the bushes of a nearby house, which led to us creeping around the neighborhood with flashlights at 3am and waking up the guy in the house where I saw her. The next day we borrowed a cage from the SPCA and set it up at another house where we thought we saw her. J went to retrieve the cage before bed and Jojo was on our porch! But she ran away again. 🙁 The next 4 nights brought us a new pet.

Not Josephine.

Meet Poppy the Possum. Every night, what seems like the same baby possum has been caught in the trap. So I’ve named it Poppy and we keep letting it go farther and farther away. FYI possums like sardines. Ugh. Josephine, come home!

Update: Cask and Cow

When we first visited Cask and Cow in Lewiston NY, they were still only “soft opened” and their menu hadn’t quite been set yet. I still had an excellent bloody mary though. Now, almost exactly a year later, J wanted to check out the food menu so we took a trip to see them, and see their new bloody mary.

Updated Cask and Cow bloody

Now featuring a cheeseburger slider, and bacon with citrus slices and olives, it’s still a great drink. Check them out!

Las Vegas!

And we’re onto Las Vegas! We are forced to book our vacations at work months and months in advance, so we pick weeks at random, and then work around what we end up with. This year, we took the 2nd week of June, and in a nice coincidence my favourite band ever, Nine Inch Nails, scheduled a concert in Las Vegas at the end of our time off. Decision on where to go = made. Plus we got to visit my bff and her family, and another friend flew in a few days after us for the concert so good times were guaranteed. But it IS Vegas in June….hot hot hot.

I’m usually not a pool person, but knowing it was going to be sweltering, I required we book a hotel with a nice pool so we ended up staying at The Plaza at the end of Fremont Street. We booked a really expensive ($35/night lol) room with a view down the Fremont Street Experience, and I got to relax at the rooftop pool every “morning” while J slept.

Lucky for me, the restaurant in the hotel lobby is known for having an excellent bloody, so let’s begin! (Ok, so lies were told. My first bloody of the trip was on our Southwest flight, and it was terrible. Thankfully I remembered to bring Devil Dave’s pocket spice in my purse, which was a huge improvement.)

Hash House A Go-Go @ The Plaza Hotel ($12? $14?)

Hash House A Go-Go

Yes, it’s a chain restaurant, and we try not to do chains, but I couldn’t pass up a giant bloody right downstairs from our room. They had several options for bloodies, but I went with their Johnny’s Famous BLT Mary. Garnished with lettuce, tomato and bacon, and a smoked bacon and salt rim, it was supposed to also come with toast but mine did not. That was ok though because I wasn’t actually going to make it into a sandwich, and my breakfast was GIGANTIC. According to their site, ingredients include house vodka, house bloody mix, Louisiana hot sauce, fresh horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce. This drink was huge and luckily had a good flavor mix. The horseradish was strong and it was very peppery. Definitely worth drinking (and eating).

Triple George Grill, Downtown Las Vegas ($15)

Triple George Grill

By far the classiest bloody of the trip, in a classy restaurant. Triple George was on my list to check out, and it just so happened to be across the street from the Downtown Grand casino which we had visited to cash in our free slot play. Garnished with celery, shrimp, cheese, onion, olive and bacon this bloody uses Hablo Diablo mix and is spiced with Tabasco. It had a really good tomato flavor with a nice tang, and my favourite, really crisp bacon!

Immediately after Triple George Grill we moved on to…

Chicago Brewing Company @ 4 Queens Casino ($40)

I had to do a bit of research for this one, because I knew I had seen an advertisement for someplace in Vegas with several insane bloody offerings. In all the “Best of” articles I had looked at, none of them mentioned this unknown place. I asked a few internet groups, and finally someone suggested 4 Queens. And yes, that was it. Check this shit out:

How is this place not on every single “Best of” list?!?!?!

o.m.g.

As they say in gambling, go big or go home. So go big I did. Of course, I had to get Queen Mary, which is a combination of all the other ones. It is now my most expensive bloody mary, at $40, but 1. it’s now also the biggest at 50oz with 4 shots of vodka 2. you get to keep the glass and 3. it’s a meal.

I had asked for it spicy, I’m not sure if I got the ghost pepper mix, because while it was indeed spicy, it wasn’t unbearable which I would expect from ghost peppers (plus I don’t actually like the flavor of those ridiculously hot peppers, and this didn’t have that burned smoky flavor). Regardless, beyond all the garnishes, the drink was actually good!

Garnish crazy!

Because of all the garnishes, it takes 20 minutes to arrive. No problem! Patience is a virtue! And look at everything you get. If you can’t tell, there’s a filet mignon slider (Adam ate it and reported: “That meat cookie was legit!”), chicken finger, bacon wrapped jalapeno stuffed with a mozzarella stick, more bacon, mini deep dish pizza, celery, cheese, peperocini, cherry tomatoes and a sprig of rosemary. If you leave it on the table, you have to stand to drink it! It was fantastic.

I took a bloody mary rest after that behemoth, but the trip wasn’t over yet!

The concert was at the Hard Rock Casino, which also happened to have another bloody from various “Best of” lists, so before the show I had to try it.

Mr Lucky’s @ Hard Rock Casino ($22)

Mr Lucky’s at Hard Rock Casino

Normally this would be in competition for a garnish award, but the Queen Mary is going to be hard to top. However Mr Lucky’s gave it a valiant try. Garnished with a waffle breakfast sandwich, deviled egg, shrimp, beef jerky, bacon and pickle, I had another meal on my hands. The breakfast sandwich was delicious, but the deliciousness stopped there. The drink itself had no flavor and no spice. This bloody was on many of the “Best of” lists, and if your basis for a good bloody is the garnishes, then fine. But if you want your drink to actually taste good too, this one is not for you. You do get to keep the glass though!

Last but not least, we needed to find some lunch on our last day, so we checked out another one from my research list.

Park on Fremont ($12)

Park on Fremont

Park on Fremont is a super cute little hipster restaurant and bar, with a nice patio (but it was tooooo damn hot!) It had been on my list as a possible brunch spot before we decided on going to Drag Brunch at Senor Frogs, so I was glad to be able to check it out before we left. The menu had so many delicious looking meals, and 3 different bloody marys. I went with the Derby Breakfast Club, which used their house made mix muddled with bacon and smoke, with more bacon garnish as well as a pickled egg. It had a great flavor from the muddled bacon with a good pepper and spice flavor, but I can’t say I enjoyed the pickled egg.

The Queen City meets the Queen Mary

**
The trip, and most of the drinks, was great. It was fun to catch up with my bff, and hang out with her kids at the pool. The concert was pretty good, and drag brunch was faaaabulous!

Yaaas queen!

Quick Hit: The Tabernacle

I can’t believe it’s the end of June already! Where did half the year go? With the long winter, and late spring, it feels like it should only be the beginning of May. But alas, here we are, June. And June means vacation. And vacation this year meant Las Vegas. But before we get to Las Vegas, I have a quick review of The Tabernacle at Sweet_ness 7.

The Tabernacle is a new addition to the back of Sweet_ness 7 cafe on Grant St in Buffalo. They bought the building behind the cafe and transformed it into a modern day chapel. And in great story you can read in full here, their line cook, WHO NEVER PAINTED BEFORE, took over and is solely responsible for all the painting in the space.

The Tabernacle

This space is truly incredible. To think the artist had never painted before, and he filled this entire space with wonderful paintings, it’s amazing!! I sense a career change!

Seriously…he never painted before…?!?!?

We visited later in the evening, after dinner, so we did not partake in any of their food menu, but I had to try the bloody.

Look at this space!!!

Garnished with 2 cherry tomatoes, olive, lemon and lime (they were out of celery), this drink did not have any ice, which was unusual. The house made mix was peppery and a bit sweet, with heat from horseradish. It’s a decent offering, worth checking out.

Tabernacle Bloody Mary

Coles

It’s been a while, again, but I just haven’t been ordering any bloodies lately. We haven’t really gone anywhere new, where there’s a bloody I haven’t tried. But we made it to Cole’s on Elmwood the other night for Geeks Who Drink trivia, and I used one of the bonus question drinks I won on their bloody.

I have had one before, years ago before the blog, and real late night when it was far too busy and full of college kids. Yuck, college kids! I can’t say it was very good. But I hear raves about their bloody, especially during brunch, so I tried it again.

Cole’s Bloody Mary

J always hands out my card to bartenders, to let them know about this site, but then they get all nervous. The bartender gave me my drink, and was antsy to find out what I thought. My initial thought was that it was a bit sweet. He tasted it, and thought it wasn’t very spicy, and I agreed so he took it back to add in more.

Garnished with lemon, lime and olives, the final product was still a bit sweet but it had a good amount of spice. It was a good classic flavor, exactly what you’re looking for in a bloody.

Cole’s also has awesome jalapeno popper wonton things. Check em out!

3rd Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest

Hello faithful readers, it’s been a while, but I have not forgotten about you (thank you, both of you – if you get the reference you’re awesome!) I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been busy doing something super fun, but that would be a lie. It’s simply winter, where it’s dark and cold and you just want to sit on the couch and catch up on tv. And you want to detox from the holiday season, which is mainly the reason that I hadn’t had a single bloody mary in 2018…until now! The Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest was upon us once again, at Buffalo Riverworks for the 2nd year in a row.

I tried to be proactive and buy tickets for Jeff and his girlfriend, since he misses out on tickets every year, and then he turns around and goes off to Mexico! So this year J and I were joined by an old friend and her boyfriend, and since last year was a bit of a massive cluster of packed be-coated bodies, I wanted to go a little later to try to avoid it all. Thankfully Step Out Buffalo provided a coat check this year, and perhaps because they offered a special noon early entry ticket, when we got there a bit after 1, there was a good amount of room to move around, no long waits for drinks, and we even snagged a table to use as a home base. Score! Once again 10 different bars were gathered to provide us their best – er, well 7 different bars. 3 were participants the year before, and of the remaining 7, 4 of those I’d had before. So although the returning bars offered a different drink this time, there really were only 3 cocktails that were completely new to me, which adds to my sad feeling that this year was a little underwhelming.

Black Button Distilling
Ingredients: Tomato juice, ground up pickles, horseradish, garlic, habanero peppers, Worcestershire, lemon juice, salt, pinch of sugar
Garnish: Black olives, Colby Jack cheese, tortilla chip

Black Button Distillery

I have no notes on this drink, basically because I still don’t care for their mix, and thus I have nothing to say.

This Little Pig
Ingredients: House roasted tomato confit, tomato juice, fresh squeezed lemon juice, celery salt, fresh ground black pepper, A1, Worcestershire, garlic concentrate, pickled dill bean juice, fresh horseradish, house smoked meatball
Garnish: Dilly green bean, bell pepper, bacon glazed with brown sugar and Frank’s Hot Sauce

This Little Pig (has a terrible blurry photo grr)

Gorgeous and delicious garnish (I’m a sucker for green beans), with a mini meatball hidden at the bottom of the cup, this was an early favourite and ended up being my choice for best of the day. It had a strong horseradish flavor, and a good amount of spice. My only complaint is that it was a taaaad too thick, with a lot of debris. A bit more blending would make it pretty perfect. I am not familiar with this restaurant, but this drink makes me intrigued.

Delicious, delicious bacon wrapped green beans from This Little Pig

Thin Man Brewery
Ingredients: House beef stock, lemon juice, house pickle juice, Worcestershire, celery salt, black pepper, sambal, tomato juice, Thin Man Black Francis stout, horseradish
Garnish: Maple and rosemary glazed fried pork belly, spicy pickled green bean, carrot, onion (however the girl at the booth said it was sriracha glazed pork belly and I believe her.)

Thin Man

The 2nd repeat of the day, I had tried Thin Man’s bloody last year while there watching the Kentucky Derby. It was rather mellow and a tad sweet from the addition of their stout. It wasn’t very spicy, but a decent offering, and a different choice if you are tired of bloodies that are overly harsh with pickle juice flavors.

Merge
Ingredients: Fire roasted tomato, onion, pepper, jalapeno, ghost pepper, carrot, cilantro, raisin puree, salt
Garnish: Pomegranate paprika salt, smoked carrot, tofu jerky, almond “ricotta” stuffed olive, beet pickled cauliflower

Merge

Merge is/was high on my list of top bloodies ever, and definitely best of Buffalo. However this offering was not what I had in the past, and I don’t know what they offer at the restaurant anymore. This drink was ok, but I certainly hope they still offer their classic version. This one was very sweet, which I realized later came from raisins…which I hate. Given all the peppers listed in the ingredients, it was not very hot. Merge is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, so the jerky was tofu, and was delicious. If you weren’t told it wasn’t meat, you wouldn’t know.

At this point, walking back to the table with my Merge drink, I was distracted by this:

Whaaaaat?

This my friends, is a Bloody Mary Donut…..you read that right, a Bloody Mary Donut. I don’t know what’s really on it besides bacon, but Fry Baby served up this creative and delicious piece of food art along with their plain, maple bacon and…another kind of donut. Is it tomato frosting? Maybe! Probably! Is it celery drizzle, not totally sure, could be citrus. But I do know it was tasty.

Breakfast is served! Merge bloody mary with bloody mary donut and plain donut from Fry Baby

Acropolis
Ingredients: Salt, pepper, celery salt, Worcestershire, Frank’s, sriracha, lemon juice, pickle juice, Weber’s horseradish mustard, horseradish and tomato juice
Garnish: Feta stuffed queen olive, pepperoncini, lemon and bacon

Acropolis

This was a strong flavored drink, and a bit too much. The spiced rim plus the flavors in the drink made it a bit too salty with an overwhelming celery flavor. It did have a full slice of bacon, which is always appreciated! With less salt, it would probably be a solid classic cocktail.

Rusty Nickel
Ingredients: Tomato paste, Worcestershire, lime juice, spice, extractives (is that a word? it was on their sign) of celery, pickle juice, pepper, celery salt, 3 different hot sauces, chipotle mix
Garnish: Chipotle lime seasoned pickle, Ru’s pierogi, custom chipotle lime meat stick from Get Linked, celery, lime, cheese cube, black olives

Rusty Nickel

Another repeat from last year, but with a completely different offering, they won the well deserved Best Garnish award. Ru’s Pierogi are delicious, and I believe this one was their stuffed banana pepper pierogi. I lost my cheese cube, but with all that other amazingness, who cares? The drink itself smelled spicy, like cayenne or taco mix, maybe chipotle. It tasted good, however maybe it was just mine, but it was a little chunky and it needed to be chewed. All it needs was a good straining and it would be a great offering.

Garnish game on point!

Colter Bay
Ingredients: Tomato, Mexican hot sauce, taco seasonings, cayenne, smoked paprika, cumin
Garnish: Taco Bell hot sauce packet, dorito rim

Colter Bay

Welp….no. I try to be nice in my reviews, even when I don’t like something, but this was awful. They offered a beef on weck cocktail last year, which had issues but was decent. This year they went with a Doritos Loco theme, and it failed miserably. I couldn’t figure out the terrible chemical taste until I read the sign and saw “Taco Bell hot sauce”…that’s exactly it. My cup lacked a dorito rim, which while it wouldn’t have improved the drink, still would have tasted fine on it’s own. We didn’t realize at the time, but you were supposed to also take a 2nd cup of a turquoise/green liquid shooter to drink after. No idea what it was, but nothing could improve this drink.

Burning Buffalo
Ingredients: V8 juice, Worcestershire, horseradish, Tabasco, black pepper, celery salt, smoke
Garnish: Fresh mozzarella, tomato, salami, pickled banana pepper

Burning Buffalo

Burning Buffalo was another recent favorite from last year, and their drink at the fest didn’t disappoint. They ended up winning Favorite Bloody, and I can’t begrudge them that. It was similar to This Little Pig’s, as it had a strong horseradish flavor. A solid choice for sure.

Billy Club
Ingredients: Tomato juice, lemon juice, lime juice, Lea and Perrins, Frank’s, sriracha, jalapeno brine, onion, salt, garlic salt
Garnish: Lemon and olive

Well, that looks boring Billy Club.

There was a small olive hiding at the bottom of this tiny sample. Boring. Come on now, even if you don’t go all in with pierogi and meat sticks, you can put in a little more effort than throwing an olive in a glass. Their drink last year also lacked garnish, though they supposedly ran out last year. If that’s the case, you should learn from your mistakes! The drink was a simple classic offering, with a good tomato flavor, not bad at all.

Rowhouse
Ingredients: Wood grilled roma tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, V8 juice, cold pressed bell peppers, carrots, celery, beets, fresh garlic, onion, black pepper, smoked paprika, celery salt, Broadway Market horseradish, Worcestershire, Tabasco
Garnish: Cheddar bacon puff, celery with herbed cream cheese and micro greens

Rowhouse

The staff of the Rowhouse table dressed up in a 1920s theme, with pin stripe suits and flapper dresses. I wish I could have given this drink a better shot, but I found it very hard to drink with the microgreens in it. The little puff was good, a bit smoky, and the drink seemed like it was ok. I just was tired of chewing chunky drinks. Rowhouse is a neat space on Delaware, surely we will get there for brunch sometime, and I’ll try the bloody again for a proper review.

Besides the 10 bars, Studio Hue was set up once again offering DIY coasters for $5, and several other vendors were around offering different hot sauces, bloody mary mixes, shrub, and gorgeous cookies:

Unfortunately, I don’t know who was selling these beautiful cookies.

If you got bored, there was an escape room mobile truck outside, and if you were really adventurous and willing to freeze your face off, you could try out Riverworks’ new grain elevator zip line. Personally, I’ll wait until summer for that!

Like I mentioned earlier, this year felt a bit underwhelming. I believe the price went up again, with no option for a cheaper “designated driver” ticket, and while the returning bars did offer different bloodies this year, there was nothing that seemed really new. The sample sizes seemed rather small, some just a few sips. The coat check and space was a vast improvement though, so A+ for that. We still had a good time, but something felt missing this year.

Maybe it’s because my friends wouldn’t get in the photo with us. 🙁

Me and J, Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest 2018

1 2 3 11