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

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