Archive of ‘Cities’ category

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!

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

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!

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