Matt and Steve’s Pickled Garnishes

The lovely people at Matt and Steve’s sent me some of their pickled veggies to try after finding me on Instagram. I am very thankful for their generosity, and was very excited to try their wares.

And why is that? Because I love green beans, and pickled green beans may be my favorite Bloody Mary Garnish (well, maybe after bacon).

Matt and Steve’s Extreme Beans

I was sent a jar each of the classic Garlic and Dill Green Beans, Hot & Spicy Green Beans and Garlic and Dill Asparagus as well as a tin of Bloody Mary rim spice. They advertise big beans with a bold taste, which can be used in other dishes beyond just garnishing a cocktail (check out their recipe page for ideas.)

Given that it’s a work day, I did not yet try the rim spice, as I can’t really be day drinking and then going in to the “office”. Instead of a cocktail, I added some veggies to my breakfast on the porch.

Breakfast! Bagel with cream cheese and home grown radish, and Matt and Steve’s veggies.

Starting with the classic Garlic and Dill, the flavor was really fantastic. Sometimes dill can be overwhelming to me, and this is a nice balanced pickling mix. Like I said, I love green beans, and I plant a ton every year. One of the problems with large beans, is they can be tough, so while the beans maintained a good crunch, some were more chewy than others. No fault of Matt and Steve, it can’t be helped!

The Hot & Spicy beans were also nicely garlicky, as well as having a kick to them. Even if you aren’t into super spicy foods like I am, these are a good spice level to be tolerable (just don’t eat too many, the heat does build).

Enter the asparagus. I don’t have a lot of experience with asparagus in any form. I’ve only had it a few times, and I suppose I find it to be a bit similar to green beans, just with a slightly milder flavor. But maybe I’m way off in this assessment, I’ve never had them side by side to compare….until now! The pickled asparagus has the same garlic and dill mix as the green beans, and they were delicious. They stayed crunchy yet tender in the jar, and were probably my favorite of the 3. I guess I’m a pickled asparagus convert! And they are available in the Hot & Spicy version too. Yum!

Extreme Bean and Asparagoos

If you are in Canada, like Matt and Steve they also have regular cucumber pickles and canned Caesars made with Canadian vodka, tomatoes, spices and Extreme Bean brine! Next time I’m allowed in Canada (go away Covid!) I’ll have to look for some Caesars to take home.

Thank you again Matt and Steve! (If you missed it, I was sent these products, but these opinions are my own.)

Lakeward Spirits

It’s the day before Cinco de Mayo so what better way to celebrate than to talk about a Bloody Mary I had on St. Patrick’s Day!

While Covid still rages, ethnic holiday celebrations have continued to be a bit different. Buffalo cancelled the parade again this year, but since bars were allowed to operate many still had smaller events, like Lakeward Spirits.

Lakeward Spirits is a distillery located in the old Barrel Factory in Buffalo’s First Ward. It occupies the space along with Pressure Drop Brewing, Snowy Owl Kombucha, Buffalo’s Best Cucina, Elevator Alley Kayak and Bar Cultivar (which actually, I’m not sure is open. It is/was a cider brewery, if that is the right term.) The space is awesome, with a great event space upstairs, where they hosted a St. Patrick’s Day party with live music.

It’s very possible that I’ve posted about them before, honestly, I’m too lazy to look in the archives. When we arrived at the distillery, the menu listed a Bloody that seemed new to me. So after our first Irish themed drink, I opted for the Bloody.

You still gotta have the mask in the photo for posterity!

For $9 the Bloody features their Grain Canyon Vodka infused with jalapeno, tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, pepperoncini and pickled vegetables (including my favorite, pickled green beans). I asked for it spicy as usual, and it definitely was. I’m assuming it was spiced up with a basic hot sauce in addition to the horseradish and infused vodka but it didn’t overwhelmingly taste like Frank’s which is always good. I was glad it used regular tomato juice and not a bottled mix, as so many bars do. Solid Bloody, would drink again.

Lakeward Spirits Bloody Mary

Tomorrow’s Cinco festivities will also be different, and while I’m sure to have some drinks, they most likely will not be Bloody. Until next time…

Krooked Tusker Distillery

September is one of the months where we typically schedule a vacation. Usually the weather is still pleasant, and in normal years, the kids have gone back to school and aren’t hanging around where we want to play tourist. Our original plans for the week we had off was to go to San Francisco. But in the 11 months between booking the vacation and actually taking the vacation, the world exploded. And then the West Coast started on fire. So in the end, it worked out that we couldn’t go cross country, and were forced to stay in our own state.

We had been looking forward to spending some of our time in Napa Valley and sampling California wine, so when it came time to decide what we were going to do, we stuck to the wine theme and spent vacation in the Finger Lakes in NY. I’ve posted about the area before, and we go every summer to see the goats, but this time we wanted to explore some of the areas we don’t typically visit – namely Keuka Lake. We spent 6 nights in the Finger Lakes area, each night in a different town, and on Saturday our friends came down to join us in Penn Yan. After a quick lunch we drank our way south to Hammondsport, visiting several wineries and breweries, and one distillery – Krooked Tusker.

A PSA: Due to covid, and everything being limited, many of the wineries are requiring reservations for tastings. This impacted us a little bit, because a few of the places we wanted to visit were booked. There are so many wineries in the area though, that it didn’t matter that much for us. But just be aware, if you are intending to do some wine tasting, and you have a specific destination in mind, make a reservation.

Krooked Tusker is a distillery on the west side of Keuka lake, outside Hammondsport. They have a nice big covered deck area, and a huge lawn with chairs and games to play. They offer a variety of spirits including a standard vodka as well as infused flavors, corn whiskies, gin and aged bourbons. When we sat down they gave us a cocktail menu to peruse, as well as an option for a flight of straight spirits. One thing not on the menu? A Bloody Mary. We ordered and were enjoying the patio when I spotted a Bloody Mary at another table. Of course, I had to try it.

Krooked Tusker’s every day Bloody

Their standard single Bloody Mary is served with 2 olives in what looks like a sippy cup haha. All their drinks on the patio are served in plastic with lids for safety. But wait…the waitress told us that on Sundays they have a Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar! It was Saturday…we were staying the night in the area…I had no choice but to insist we return the next day for the Bloody Bar.

Build your own Bloody menu

Check out those options! With 4 different mixes, plus their different spirit options, you really can get whatever flavor profile that you want. Add in the garnishes and voila!

Krooked Tusker BYOB

I opted for the horseradish vodka, which I also had the day before, and the classic Bloody mix. I am assuming the mix they used is a Powell and Mahoney mix, since they sell it in their store, but I am not sure. I added in Worcestershire, more horseradish, dill pickles, pickled garlic, cherry peppers, beets, bacon and shrimp. I don’t normally opt for shrimp but it was calling to me.

Krooked Tusker BYOB

The cocktail had a great flavor, if a tad sweet. It had a light spice level that builds. I was a little surprised that there weren’t additional spice options to add to your base mix, like Tabasco or Frank’s, or a dry spice to mix in or add to the rim. If like me, you didn’t opt for an already spicy mix, and/or don’t like horseradish, there was nothing to add in.

I am intrigued by the Ginger/Lemon vodka, and think that could be a delicious option for a future visit. I don’t usually go for whiskey, but I’m assuming the Hellhound Hooch is spicy, which might be great too.

Yes, it was raining, as is typical for our vacations.

All this can be yours for only $12, Sundays only. They offer an early bird special from 11am-noon, where you can get 2 for $20. So either drink fast, or bring a friend but definitely check it out.

Sophia’s and a bonus drink

Remember that 14 day Corona-cation I mentioned in my last post? Well, as I’m sure everyone on the planet knows, that went a bit longer than 14 days. First it turned into 21 days, and then it turned into 3 and a half months. And it was the best 3 and a half months of my life. No responsibilities, no obligations, no forced socialization! This introvert loved it. I went to bed when I was tired, I got up whenever I happened to wake up, I did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I read a bunch of books and did a bunch of crafts. I played a lot of online pub trivia. It was awesome. I wanted to retire at 50, now I want to retire at 41.

Then it all came to a crashing end with the call to return to work. Booooo! I worked a week before I was put in REAL-not allowed to leave the house-quarantine for 2 weeks when J tested positive for Covid. He’s fine, don’t worry, and I apparently did not catch it. Was I just asymptomatic? Am I super human? We may never know.

But there was one thing that I didn’t do with my time off, and that was drink Bloodies. So I don’t feel totally bad for not updating this blog. I had nothing to say!

I do feel a little bad, because it took 2 weeks to review this Bloody from Sophia’s Restaurant in Buffalo. Sophia’s has long been on various lists of Bloodies to try in Buffalo, but I had only had a taste once before at the Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest. Sophia’s is a morning and early afternoon place, and we simply just don’t wake up in time to go. However we did find ourselves up early one day and J got the idea to get some breakfast there.

Famous Sophia’s Bloody

Garnished with celery, crispy bacon, lemon, lime, olives and pepperocini Sophia’s offers a nice, classic Bloody Mary. Topped with cracked pepper, the high spice level comes from Frank’s, which we all know is not my fav, but it was a well balanced cocktail with a good thickness. If you are a classic Bloody fan, who doesn’t want all the craziness you’ll find in some offerings, head to Sophia’s. Their breakfast was great as well, so you won’t leave disappointed.

While the Covid era is not the best time to be opening a new restaurant and bar, that is exactly what the owners of Graylynn did. Graylynn is a new gin bar and market located on Main St in Downtown Buffalo. I was excited to hear about this place, because I discovered a love of gin cocktails when we were in Ireland. Plenty of fancy cocktail bars, with good gin drinks, have popped up around Buffalo, but no one has quite created what I really wanted in a gin drink. Graylynn’s cocktail menu was immediately appealing, with house made tonic flavors, and a list of their own cocktails on top of your classic gin drinks. We drank most of their current menu during dinner, but I wanted to quickly mention one of them here – the A La Tomate.

Graylynn’s A La Tomate

This is not a Bloody Mary, not even really comparable, but it’s a delicious drink made with Mediterranean gin, fresh tomato, balsamic syrup, lemon and basil. It has a hint of tomato and citrus with the gin, and was super refreshing. As the pick says, it was well done (har har!) Highly recommended when you want something similar to a Bloody, but not full of heavy tomato juice.

PANIC! at the distillery

A week ago when the world was only slightly crazy, and maybe you could still find toilet paper on the shelves, J and I were headed to see Enter The Haggis at Buffalo Iron Works, and with some time to kill before the show we stopped at Hartman’s Distilling in the First Ward.

I am only a week or so late with this review, instead of weekS or months, because I have nothing else to do. That’s right, I am temporarily out of a job due to the Covid-19 virus panic of 2020. My place of business has been shut down since it is a public place with the potential for large gatherings, and we work with dirty dirty cash. There is no way for me to work from home, no way to do my job virtually, so I’m trying to be productive on Day 1 of my Corona-cation.

Hartman’s Distilling is the newest distillery to open in Buffalo, located next door to Resurgence Brewing’s 2nd location in the old EB Holmes building. Whoever owns the building did a fantastic job with the renovation from an abandoned brick shell to brewery, distillery and other offerings. The 2 bars share a nice courtyard that has gas fire pits and games in the summer.

I had seen them advertise their bloody mary on social media, but it was always mentioned as a brunch drink, and indeed was not on their regular menu. But after my first gin based cocktail, I asked if it was a brunch only drink, and lucky me it was not.

Hartman’s Bloody Mary

Hartman’s house made mix features a lot of horseradish. A. Lot. You can clearly see it throughout the drink, and it is the main flavor providing the heat to the drink. But there is also a touch of sweetness and garlic that comes from sriracha, a bit of tang from olive juice, and a touch of heat from chili oil.

I was ordering this on a Thursday, and initially it did not have a very fancy garnish, but once J gave bartender Joe my card for this site, he got a little nervous and offered to add the garnish they usually do for brunch. I accepted.

The brunch garnish

The garnish is a simple and classy addition, nothing crazy-go-nuts, just olive, celery, cherry tomato, prosciutto and cheese (usually, but not in mine). For $8 this is a solid cocktail with a good flavor that goes beyond the classic, without alienating bloody mary purists.

And here’s a funny story about bartender Joe. A year or 2 ago we stopped into Hotel Henry for a drink, we were sitting at the bar, looking at the TV and the local news is interviewing someone at the airport. I look at the TV, I look at the bartender. I look at the TV, I look at the bartender. I ask, “Is that you?” Bartender looks at the TV, “Oh yeah, that’s me.” LOL Well I think that bartender is bartender Joe. I could be wrong, but Joe looked familiar, and although we encounter many bartenders in our travels, not many have been on TV at the same time.

Now the question is, what to do with days 2-14 (at least) of my Corona-cation?

Amazing Hazel’s

Happy New Year! My resolution? To be better about writing blog posts. Will I succeed? Does anyone succeed in their resolutions? But I will certainly try!

I feel reaaaaaal bad about this post, because the fine folks at Amazing Hazel’s sent me their Bloody Mary Mix to try back in….oh…. June? And I had every intention of being timely, it just didn’t happen. There were many weekends where I thought, I need to try this mix, Sunday I’m going to sit on the porch, in the sun, and drink a bloody mary. And Sunday came and went until the next Sunday when I thought about it again. And then it was snowing. Where did the time go?!? And now it’s 2020!

And for 2020 I had a brilliant idea: taking the mix to a New Years Eve party! I am so smart.

As an aside, I absolutely love that this was a genuine mistake in the show and they left it in

As some may know, I work overnights. So when I say New Years Eve party, it was more like an early morning New Years Day party. Whatever works, right? So that said, I did not take any pictures of my gorgeous bloody mary, with pepperocini and cheese sticks, cocktail pickles and a stromboli for garnishes. You’ll just have to imagine the beauty while I use some product photos from Amazing Hazel’s.

I don’t know who Hazel is but I hear she’s amazing!

Amazing Hazel’s is an Indiana based small batch sauce company who makes this mix as well as a chili sauce, all based on Amazing Hazel’s recipes that were passed down through the family since the early 1900s. The sauce and Bloody mix are made in small batches by 2 people. That’s right, they have a whole TWO employees! 2 people making all this good-ness!

So let’s get down to it. The initial smell of the mix leans towards the Mexican side of things, with a hint of cumin and onions. The flavor is strong on the tomato, which is always what *I* initially want from my Bloody Mary. If you were scared from how I started that the mix would taste like salsa, don’t worry, it doesn’t. It’s got a nice sweetness that is not overbearing but makes you think of backyard grown fresh tomatoes, and a hint of ginger. The list of ingredients are all healthy real food items like tomatoes and peppers and onions, with no preservatives or fillers, and it is vegan and gluten free.

Amazing Hazel’s new easy pour bottle

The Amazing Hazel folks (the 2 of them) recommend tasting the mix first, before you add any vodka and embellishments, so you can really taste what they have made, which is what I did. My personal opinion, it was a bit too thick for my liking. They make it thicker on purpose so it doesn’t get too diluted once you add your alcohol and ice, but I found I needed to add some water at the end to make it a consistency that I preferred. No big deal, it didn’t effect the flavor at all. There are a lot of floaties in it, so if that is bothersome to you, I still recommend giving this mix a shot and just running it through a strainer. It’s got a great balanced taste that was really delicious.

If you are in the Indianapolis area, you can pick up their products at various stores and fairs, or you can buy online. They have full size bottles as shown above, as well as smaller “sample” bottles and the famous chili sauce (which also sounds amazing). By the looks of their Instagram, they seem to be expanding to spice mixes as well, but they aren’t on offer on their website. Check ’em out!

***

(If you missed it above, I mentioned that they sent me this mix. But the opinions in this post are my own etc etc etc.)

Quick Hits

I suck.

I know it, you don’t need to point it out.

I have a motivation problem. In that, I have none. On top of that, I haven’t had that many cocktails to post about. It’s not that I’ve run out of places with Bloody Marys to try, it’s that 1. we haven’t gone to any of these new places and 2. I haven’t been in the mood. And then I have to review it, like it was my (unpaid) job, and I just don’t want to.

I suck.

So I’m going to clean up my back catalog of drinks, and hopefully, get back into the mood.

Sun Burmese (Williamsville)

First up. Sun Burmese restaurant in Williamsville, NY (I do not know if they offer this at their other locations, though I would imagine they do). They make the drink with a house made mix spiced with wasabi, topped with pepper and a dried lime. There was other “heat” adding ingredients besides the wasabi, and while it was a small drink, it was tasty and worth a try.

Mesque on Hertel Ave

Next, Mesque on Hertel Ave in Buffalo. Mesque is my favourite cocktail bar in Buffalo. We only “discovered” it 2 years ago, although it’s been there for as long as I remember. It is just easy to miss, as it’s known as a soccer bar…I don’t know about you, but I don’t expect a soccer bar to have high end cocktails, I expect it have beer and cater to fans of Man U et al. But I was wrong, very very wrong. They have a rotating seasonal cocktail menu featuring some very creative drinks. One of their previous fall drinks was an Indian masala spiced drink, and one of their spring drinks featured peas. And it was amazing. I finally tried a Bloody there, because I saw it advertised as one of their game day specials ($7.50 on a Match day, $8 normally). The bartender and GM, Dylan, came to Mesque from Panorama on 7 who won this year’s Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest, so I knew it would be a good drink. (Panorama was my pick as #1 this year, and I enjoyed their drink when I had it in the restaurant. Sadly, Panorama kept Dylan’s plaque!) The drink was very spicy and heavy on salt and pickle, maybe a bit too much for some, but a nice outing.

Nosh – Portland, Maine

We did some traveling in September, visiting my friend and former roommate in her new digs in Portland, Maine, and taking a few days to go to Orlando for Universal Studios. Florida didn’t turn up any Bloodies (who wants to drink a tomato cocktail in 95 degrees, sitting by a pool?), but I managed to find one in Portland. Nosh was right across the street from our Airbnb, and open late, so we stopped in one night for a snack and cocktail. Garnished with lemon and lime, I found some olives at the bottom. The spice level was mild, and relied on fresh cracked pepper. Nothing special, not bad. Just a basic, classic bloody.

Portland was very cool, and pretty hipster-y, so I was surprised at the lack of bloodies at the places we went. I thought they’d be all about sticking lobster claws in tomato juice! I was even willing to get one, considering I don’t like lobster, and I don’t like my food looking like the animal it used to be. Haha. Missed opportunity Portland!

So that cleans up my back log of cocktails (for now). I do have 2 gifted mixes to get to, and I will aim for next weekend. I feel bad that I haven’t talked about them yet, like I’m taking advantage of these companies. I assure you, I intend to talk about them in a timely manner, I just suck, as I said.

A trip to Columbus

As eluded to in my last post, we took a quick trip to Columbus, Ohio to stay at The Doghouse – Brew Dog’s newly opened beer themed hotel. Brew Dog is a Scotland based brewery who has offered Kickstarter type private equity sales to raise money for their various projects. J initially bought in years ago on their 2nd offering because he wanted the special beers mailed to him, and a membership card with his photo on it. No one knew that Brew Dog would take off as it did, and, well….just google it. As they expanded their brewery, they made the jump across the pond to Columbus, where they opened another brew house, and an attached hotel. J bought into the hotel fundraiser as well, and received 2 free nights at the hotel in return.

The hotel is outside of Columbus, but you could stay in the hotel with the attached restaurant and be perfectly happy. We upgraded to the Brewmaster’s Suite, which featured a big garage door window looking down on their sour beer facility, an in room tap, and 2 (two!) beer fridges (including one in the shower). You received free welcome beers upon arrival, and while the restaurant and bar closed at 10, the fully stocked lobby bar remained open for hotel guests only until 1 or 2am. With fun art on and around the building, a large dog park across a little stream, and adjacent to bike paths, it was a nice spot and we enjoyed our 2 nights there.

With our one full day in the area, we went into Columbus to visit a few other local breweries and check out the Short North Arts District, which had a place called Philco with a bloody mary I wanted to try. So after lunch at a brewery and stumbling upon a really cool duck pin bowling bar, we went out to find it.

“Philco” bloody

We sat at this old fashioned bar, which didn’t appear to have a cocktail menu, and ordered a bloody. It had a lot of visible pepper in it, but it was pretty watery with a strong sriracha sauce taste. Garnished with an olive, lime, and little pickle there may have been some pickle juice in it. At first I was kinda disappointed. There wasn’t a whole lot of tomato flavor, plus the liquidity of the drink, and I wondered why it had been on a list of bloodies to try in Columbus. But as I drank it, it actually grew on me and I ended up being pretty satisfied.

By this point we were kinda full of lunch still, and flights of beer and cocktails, so we walked around the neighborhood and made it down to the North Market. I really wish I was hungry because there were so many awesome looking food vendors of every kind of ethnicity, plus other booths selling other mostly food items to buy (salsas, hot sauces, jellies, etc). Even though I was full, I couldn’t pass up getting some Jeni’s ice cream, so I made some space in my wooden leg that’s reserved exclusively for ice cream and dug in.

After stopping into another brewery we made our way back towards the car, and I realized the bar we went to first WAS NOT PHILCO! I could have sworn I had seen the sign, and that was the place, but I was mistaken! The place we first went to was called Press Grill! Well, they DID both start with a “P”!

Having found Philco, which was just a few doors down from Press Grill, we had to go in and try the bloody. Omg, so full! Philco is an upscale old diner, with a few booths and counter service. They were closing soon, so I was very happy I had realized we had been to the wrong place just in time.

The real Philco bloody

Garnished with a Gorgonzola olive, lime and a spiced rim, I forced down the olive because I feel bad leaving fancy stuffed ones in the glass. Gross. The real Philco bloody had a proper thickness and a decent amount of spice. Made with a house mix, it had a solid classic flavor with a hint of pickle juice tang.

Olives, bleccchh.

For $9 the drink was kinda small, but the bartender gave me the extra in a small glass, like places will do with milkshakes, so I forgive the price (though I don’t know if that’s normal behavior, so don’t expect it).

Bloody Mary with a Blood Mary chaser.

Even though we really only had one full day in Columbus, it looks like a pretty neat city. I had passed through the area many years ago en route to Cincinnati, purely because of taco trucks (it’s where I had my first, and best, al pastor, which I wanted to get again but didn’t have the time), and visited the zoo, but there is so much else to discover. RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni, Nina West, is from Columbus and there were photos of her and references to her all around the Short North district. A friend (Hi Scott!) is moving there soon and had mentioned several places to check out, had we had the time, including a bar he thought I’d like, Oddfellows, which we did make it to. Crazy art on the wall, pizza food truck outside, and we walked right into weekly trivia. Loved it. I wish Columbus wasn’t a solid 5 hour drive, because I’d love to check out more of the area.

In local Buffalo bloody news, there have been a few new bloody destinations in the area I hope to get to soon…if I can ever get up early enough for brunch!

Sidelines – A diamond in the rough

As has been recent tradition, Mid-June brought a week of vacation. We didn’t have real plans, just a few nights out of town. We spent a night on Seneca Lake so we could go see the goats at Lively Run Dairy and have some wine, and we planned 2 nights in Columbus Ohio at the Dog House – Brew Dog’s beer hotel. The rest of the time we just hung around town, relaxed, saw some music etc.

Now it’s been 2 weeks since we visited Sidelines Sports Bar while off of work, and I had all the good intentions in the world to post in a timely manner. I downloaded and edited my photos, I basically knew what I wanted to say, but then I suddenly had no time to write anything up.

I was all set to go when I woke up to no internet in the house. Cycled the power on the modem and router, all the usual stuff, and had to call the cable company in the end. Of course, they say nothing is wrong on their end, it must be my modem. So I drive out to their store to get one of theirs, I am told it should work right when I plug it in, except of course, it doesn’t. Another phone call, still nothing they can do on the phone, they gotta send out a guy. So this turns into 2 days without home internet, and 2 more days of not posting this review. (It turns out SOMEHOW my cable got disconnected AT THE POLE.)

Then it was my birthday, and finally nice weather where all I wanted to do was sit on the back porch. And my normal work hours. And, I won’t lie, Wizards Unite, the Harry Potter augmented reality game finally came out lol. I just had no time to sit in front of the computer and type. And while it is nice out today, I knew I HAD to write this review, so I’m outside on the back porch on the laptop, typing this up even though all I can see is my own reflection in the screen.

Sidelines! Sidelines is a typical “old fashioned” neighborhood sports bar in Buffalo. We had only been there once before when we were out early in the 2018-2019 hockey season and we wanted to find a place to watch the Sabres game. It’s a good enough place. They had a menu with the usual bar food – wings, fingers, fries etc. There was no hint that they served brunch, or that they had a BUILD YOUR OWN BLOODY MARY!

o.m.g.

I only found this out on accident when browsing #bloodymary on Instagram (I was epically bored) and they had a post with the above photo. I thought, no chance was this in Buffalo, but it totally was!! This is the kind of thing I’ve been waiting for in Buffalo. The kind of drink promised by Templeton Landing but not delivered. The kind of drink offered by Fat Bob’s once, but not since (that I know of).

It’s not a Build Your Own bar like I had in Arizona, where you are literally mixing yourself a drink, but it’s a list of ingredients that a professional bartender will put together for you. I like that better, because they have skillz. Take a look at what Sidelines was offering.

So many choices!

For a base price of $8, you can pick from a variety of vodkas and tequilas, choose your base and spice level, pick some add in flavors, and choose from a standard list of garnishes. Then if you want to go crazy bananas you can add in a variety of larger garnishes for an additional charge and create yourself a whole brunch meal.

I went with a medium base, because I was adding in Tabasco, horseradish and jalapeno juice and I didn’t want it to be tooooo overwhelming. I am not picky about my vodka but J always orders Tito’s so I just chose that. From the complimentary garnish list I picked pepperoni, bacon, pickle and lemon and lime wedges. To round out my meal in a glass I added a hard boiled egg, chicken won-ton, pizza log and chicken finger.

My Sidelines masterpiece

Arriving in all it’s glory with a spiced rim, the bacon was nice and crispy, the won-ton delicious and everything else A+. The chicken finger was doused in Frank’s hot sauce, which I didn’t expect, but it was fine if not a bit unnecessary (I did order actual breakfast as well). The drink itself was in a larger glass, not your typical pint glass, and had a good flavor.

Color me impressed. This is not the kind of drink, or brunch as a whole, that you would expect from a neighborhood sports bar. This is a definite Best of Buffalo recommendation from me, as you can be as simple or crazy as you want. If you don’t get enough meal in your glass, or like me, you are with a Bloody hater, they offered a nice brunch menu as well. My drink ended up being $18, but you can stick with the basics for $8 and still get a fantastic cocktail. For $24.50 you can get EVERYTHING. And I would imagine if you wanted to double up on a certain garnish, they’d do that too.

I believe brunch is only on Sunday, but don’t quote me on that, just go see them!!

Up next, Columbus Ohio!

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!

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