Gabriel’s Gate

When you think of Buffalo you think of chicken wings – that’s right, “chicken wings” never “buffalo wings”. The “buffalo” is superfluous. And when you think chicken wing, most people think of Anchor Bar, where the famous chicken wing was invented. Now I’m a bit of a bad Buffalonian and I don’t eat chicken wings…I know, the shame! But I have weird things with food and the way it looks and while they smell delicious, and I like chicken and chicken fingers, chicken wings, with bones and skin, they just look revolting and I can’t bring them up to my face to eat. SO! I can’t indulge in my hometown’s most famous food, and I can’t really comment on where the best place is to indulge. But I listen to the debate, and I can chime in with the general consensus that if you’re looking for the best, the best is NOT Anchor Bar (sure, stop in for tradition’s sake). Most people will say Duff’s out on Sheridan Drive has the best, but if you’re staying downtown, Gabriel’s Gate will often make the list.

A recent review of the best wing joints in the country by Dave Infante at Thrillist wrote: “The “2” in the 1-2 Western NY punch that sunk Anchor’s chances at glory is Gabriel’s Gate, an Allentown favorite set up inside an old row-house from 1864. They just do ‘em better — not only better than the original, but better than almost anyone in the country. A single order of medium-heat wings is the move: crispy, saucy, and utterly enormous, these may not be Buffalo’s first… but they’re the ones you need to eat when you’re here.”

Now I mention all this chicken wing talk about Gabe’s Gate because I lost my review of their Bloody Mary 🙁

gabesgate

As you can see from the picture, it’s served in a skinny Collins type glass with…something…probably an olive, on a skewer. I do remember talking to the bartender about the drink, as Jason told him I was going to be doing this blog and I believe he said they use a house made mix. I do remember it being tasty, but that’s about all I can report sadly.

The restaurant is decorated with all sorts of neat stuff, like mounted animals, and is located in one of the original 1864 Tift Row houses on Allen.

Fat Bob’s

Fat Bob’s is a great bbq smoke house in Buffalo, in a little one way alley, with a nice patio in the summer. I had a Bloody Mary here once before that wasn’t great, but I was tempted to try it again now that I was going to write the blog.

fatbobs

They use a house made mix, and of course I asked for it spicy, but it was hardly spicy at all. There was definitely horseradish in it, and that nose spiciness that comes from horseradish and wasabi, but none of that capsaicin tongue spiciness from peppers or hot sauce. It was more liquid-y than most and fairly bland, all things considered. It has a good base flavor though, it seems like a good thing to expand upon. Like add bbq sauce or something, given that it’s a bbq restaurant after all. If I hadn’t asked for it spicy, with the horseradish, it would have just been watery tomato juice. $9. It was still fairly disappointing.

The Gypsy Parlor

We started hanging out at the Gypsy Parlor quite a bit for a while before schedules changed and things got in the way. It’s a neat little place that opened on Grant and became a draw to a neighborhood that didn’t have much.

gypsy

I’ve had a few Bloody Marys at the Gypsy and with the right bartender, it can have the appropriate spice level. This visit, the bartender was Britney, and it wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy, but it wasn’t just blah boring tomato juice either. Her special ingredient was olive juice, but in general it’s just slightly enhanced tomato juice with lemon, lime and olive garnish, and for $9 it’s not worth it. They have an interesting drink menu with other better options to try if you visit.

Lenox Grill

Lenox Grill in the Lenox Hotel on North is more famous for their insane bottled beer selection (365 beers for 365 days) but we stopped in for some late night food for the first time so I had to get a Bloody Mary. Their website claims the best in town for their Sunday brunch, but really, who doesn’t?

lenox

Look at that beer list, there are just pages and pages! Served in a pint glass, the Bloody Mary had your typical small olive garnish with lemon and lime. It was adequately spicy and peppery. It wasn’t super special but for $5 it was enjoyable and I would order it again.

Merge

Merge is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Buffalo with an interesting cocktail menu, as it turns out. I’ve never eaten there, so I can’t comment on the food, and I only discovered the cocktail menu and Bloody Mary when stopping in for a gift certificate, but I was sure glad I found it.

As it turns out, Merge has the best Bloody Mary in Buffalo.

merge

Merge uses a house made mix, made from the bar manager Chris’s recipe, and it’s vegan. What? Bloody Mary’s aren’t vegan? You learn something new every day. I had no idea, but Worcestershire sauce is not vegan, but they use some brand which is, so there you go! The drink included sriracha, with an onion, stuffed olive and celery garnish. It was very spicy with a good tomato taste. It wasn’t too liquid-y and not too thick and ketchup-y. Served in a mason jar, I think it was $9 (we had a coupon, so not sure on the price.)

merge

It was delicious. We don’t go here often/ever because there are so many good restaurants in Buffalo, and we aren’t restricted by being vegan, but we really should, at least just for cocktails.

Mothers

Mothers is an upscale restaurant, that for some reason plays loud club music at night and appeals to a young douchy crowd. Or at least that’s how it seems from the few times I’ve tried to go there. They serve food late though, so we’ve gone a few times intending to eat, but the atmosphere has been a turn off so we’ve never stayed long. It’s one of these places that has a reputation of serving good food and drink, so I had high expectations for the Bloody Mary I ordered.

mothers

Served in a Collins glass, for $6, the drink was disappointing. I tend not to ask the bartenders for details on how they make their drinks, so my reviews are just based on what I think I can taste, and admittedly I am not a foodie or any kind of connoisseur. Just remember that.

The drink was basically tomato juice with Worcestershire sauce and probably spiced with Frank’s (which as far as hot sauces go, I don’t care for). The spice level was minor, not what I prefer, and only garnished with lemon and lime. There was absolutely nothing special about it, and got big enough for the price.

I realize drinks like this will vary by bartender so I shouldn’t be completely biased to Mothers. But given that I don’t particularly like Mothers in general, I see no reason to try it again.

The Birth of the Bloody Queen City

So the Spring of 2014 brought the idea to start this blog. Probably over a bloody mary. Who’d have thought! I have a history of having problems coming up with names for new projects though, and after enlisting help from a few friends, LeighAnne came up with The Blood Queen City! Perfect! So I started making an effort to take better photos (which I have failed at, cell phones and low light just don’t mix, I don’t care what the ads say), and making notes so that when I eventually got a blog up and running I’d have more things to say about these delicious cocktails.

I’ve collected many over the intervening months as I waited to get a header graphic together, until finally I went on vacation and procrastinated updating a different website, and put together this one (ha!).

Now that I’ve gotten the old posts from vacations out of the way, we can move on to more recent drinks, with hopefully more insightful reviews, and more to come.

Stragglers

A few I found on facebook.

2013-14 was a long, cold winter. We had a dinner date with a group of friends to celebrate a 1 year wedding anniversary only a blizzard hit, so we ended up waiting for our southtown friends for quite a while at the bar. Ok.

seneca

Nice big shrimp garnish, in this Bloody Mary from Seneca Niagara Casino. I don’t like seafood, but I’ll eat a shrimp garnish from time to time.

Then another blizzard hit up in my neck of the woods, shutting down pretty much everything, yet we still ventured out of the house to the 2 places that were open Target and Tully’s, which had the biggest Bloody Mary I’ve ever seen. I’m not entirely sure the size of the glass, 22 oz I think, and for $4.75….FOUR SEVENTY FIVE! Jesus Christ, how does this place stay in business?! And why do we never go here?

tullys

Chicago part 2

We took a foodie tour of Chicago one afternoon which took us around for a few hours, getting to try local foods like deep dish pizza, local candies, etc. So the next day we took an architectural history pub walking tour, leading us to…more Bloody Marys that weren’t on the planned “best of” list.

Bringing us to Brehon Pub. This Bloody ended up being the best of the trip, I think they put pickle juice in it, and had a nice spice level. It was smaller than most of the others, but given that it was a pub tour, that was probably a good thing!

brehon

Also on the pub tour was The Green Door, which was the coolest place we went to the entire trip. They had a speakeasy in the basement that was completely intact from the days of Prohibition, so cool. The tour guide arranged for us to see it, awesome. And the waitress was from Buffalo, we are everywhere.

green door

Last but not least, from the best of list, was the Twisted Spoke. The review raved about a “sandwich in a glass”, so it was a must visit. (They also are voted as having one of the best rooftop bars in the city, however it was October, not prime rooftop bar weather sadly, even though people were doing naked yoga on the roof of our apartment building.)

I tried 2 from Twisted Spoke’s menu of several (website currently down, so I can’t view their list *sadface*). First was the Smoking Selma – chipotle, sausage, onion, pickled garlic, cherry pepper with a Genesee cream ale back. Ha. Genny Cream Ale. I had to ask the bar tender if people seriously drank Genny in the Midwest. Genny is a joke beer in NY, it’s not even a hipster beer like PBR here, but it must be out there. When I ordered my 2nd Bloody, I told him to keep the Genny but he gave it to me anyway.

twistedspoke1

As my friend Cassie put it, that’s not a drink that’s a soup! I wish I was doing reviews at the time so I could say something more about it, but…next.

The Road Rash Mary. As the review states a “sandwich in a glass” containing salami, onions, green olives, peppercini, parmesan, a splash of Guinness to hold it all together and a beer back.

twistedspoke2

All and all a good and delicious trip, but honestly, I took a break from the Bloodys after that!

Chicago part 1

Moving right along with the vacation posts before getting back to Buffalo, Chicago in October 2013. This was the first vacation where I investigated bars to go to specifically for Bloody Marys. There were quite a few, so we ended up visiting the ones that were most convenient to where we were for other activities (mostly).

First up, The Rock Bottom Brewery. Not on the list of “Best Bloody Marys in Chicago” but we happened to go there, and they happened to have one on the menu so….

rock bottom

Next up, from the Best Of list, Schubas Tavern. The review read “Schubas has been my favorite Bloody in the city for almost 10 years. Nothing fancy about the mix—it’s salty and smokey thanks to Worcestershire, and spicy via horseradish, tabasco and cracked black pepper. It’s served with wedges of lemon and lime, which brighten the salt/spice and make the thing virtually refreshing. I also love the accompanying spear of olive, salami and a cube of jack cheese — it’s basically a brunch appetizer and it’s often on special for $5.” I received this:

schubas

Not quite a match, but again, since I wasn’t planning a blog, I don’t have a review. I don’t remember the taste. There is just a distinct lack of olive, salami and cheese there…

Next on the list, The Corner Bar. Again the best of list provides a review that doesn’t match because they list a specific bartender, but I do remember this one as being quite good. It was the best of the bunch at that point, and the cheapest (always good!) And The Corner Bar is definitely a corner bar. It is in a neighborhood, and is not a place a tourist would typically go. That is not saying it’s bad or dangerous at all, it’s just your neighborhood local joint.

corner bar

I was admittedly getting a tad tired of Bloody Marys at this point but moving on…

We were in Chicago to see Cowboy Junkies at City Winery, and there it was, a Bloody Mary on the menu…ok..fine…

city winery

Stay tuned for Part 2…

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