Archive of ‘Cities’ category

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

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.

**
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!

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.

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