The Griffon Pub

Niagara Falls, NY is a bit of a tragic city. We have this amazing natural wonder of the world, but the area immediately around it is lacking in attractions other than the casino. Go a few miles away and we have an outlet mall and shopping district that finally, FINALLY, after years has more than just Applebees, to eat at. We now have The Griffon Pub. The building used to be this fairly crummy diner that I would eat at from time to time with LeighAnne when we lived near by, and The Griffon totally remodeled it into a comfy gastropub. Since they are more of a pub than a cocktail bar, they have an extensive beer list, they do have a full bar, so I asked for a Bloody Mary to see how they’d do.

griffon

Served in a pint glass for $6, this Bloody was garnished with 3 olives, a lemon and a lime. It was very spicy despite no visible pepper or horseradish, and no Frank’s Hot Sauce flavor either. It was more citrus-y than you normally get, and pretty decent. Given that The Griffon isn’t a cocktail bar, maybe they just have a really good pre-mix.

The Griffon’s menu is fantastic. We went back to back days because we were in the area, and have gone back at least one other time since. There are just so many things we want to order. This time I had the Chicken and Waffle sandwich – holy crap, it was delicious. I had another one at a different gastropub a week later, and it didn’t hold a candle to the one from The Griffon. The staff has been super friendly each visit, and they have always been busy (last visit we had to eat at the bar). Finally something good in the Falls!

Sticky Lips

Jason and I took a night trip out to Rochester, NY to catch some music at Sticky Lips BBQ and meet up with my old friend Eric who lived near by. Everyone talks about Dinosaur BBQ when they talk about BBQ and Rochester, and no one ever talks about Sticky Lips but this was our 2nd time eating at Sticky Lips (now at both locations), and they are fantastic, and I dare to say, better than Dino. I don’t know if Dino has a Bloody Mary or not, but Sticky Lips does.

stickylips

Made with Absolute Vodka, and served in a pint glass for $5, this Bloody had visible pepper and horseradish for spice. The spice level was nice, and was immediately evident but didn’t linger. It was garnished with lemon, lime and 3 olives and had a good standard taste. It was a tad liquidy but it wasn’t really an issue.

I can’t remember what we ate this time, but it was delicious and we were stuffed. We definitely would pick Sticky Lips over Dino for our dining pleasure when in Rochester, especially now that we finally have a Dino in Buffalo.

Smoke on the Water

Staycation brought us to the yummy bbq joint near by, Smoke on the Water, located in Tonawanda right on the Erie Canal. We met up with a few friends for drinks on the patio, and I had heard they offer a bacon Bloody Mary, so it went on to the “must try” list.

smokeotw

Served in a soda class for $7.50, it seemed like a pretty standard mix. I asked for it spicy, of course, and seemed mainly spiced from pepper. It looked like it had horseradish in it but I couldn’t taste it, and it didn’t have an overwhelming Frank’s Hot Sauce taste either, which was good. Garnished with lemon and lime wedge, with a strip of bacon, it was decent enough, but not mind blowing.

They’ve got a great menu, and smoke all their own meat. We didn’t eat there this time, but in the past, it’s been delicious.

Back to The Breakfast Club

May 2014 brought us back to the Adirondacks for Memorial Day, this time hoping for better weather than 2013. It was slightly better. We still got rained on but really only for a day and a half instead of 3, and the temperatures were better. No snow, and we didn’t have to venture into Lake Placid to buy pants and gloves.

But we did still have to venture in to go back to the Breakfast Club for a Bloody Mary again. I had to see if it lived up to the memory of “best ever”

tbcmenu

They had the same menu of Bloody Marys as last year and I ordered the Fire Mary with bacon vodka again – “house made recipe spiced up with red Tabasco, sriracha and green Tabasco”.

tbc1

Still served in the mason jar for $7, this time the bacon garnish was not served in a crisped up slice, but folded up and speared between olives. Not my ideal piece of bacon, as I prefer them to be super crispy well done but it’s still bacon. The Bloody was also garnished with celery, lemon and lime, the 2 olives and had a salt rim.

tbc2

It’s still the best Bloody ever. It has a smoky flavor, a great spice level from the tabasco and sriracha, and a nice liquidity. You’re not drinking ketchup, and it’s not tomato water. A+

We visited 2 other places this trip, which also had Bloody Marys so of course I had to try them.

Delta Blue was a New Orleans/Mardi Gras themed place on the main street through town.

deltablue

It was a pretty standard Bloody. Served in a pint glass for $8, it had an olive and lime garnish. Spiced with horseradish and pepper, it was a tad chewy from the spices, but it had a good liquidity and was drinkable.

A bit outside of town, we met up with some of Jason’s friends for an art opening at Pan Dolce. Bartender Ashley perfected her own Bloody Mary mix using Absolute Peppar and a touch of Mama Walker’s Maple Bacon Liquor.

pandolce

It was a good spicy mix and the maple liquor added a bit of sweetness which made it different than the usual. It had lemon garnish and a celery salt rim. And she posed for me!

McClures Chips

Another one of my favorite things, potato chips!

mcclures

During the NYC trip, walking by a corner store I stopped in to see what kind of weird chips they might have, and voila there they were. McClure’s Bloody Mary chips (and spicy pickle, and garlic dill – also purchased). I’ve been hanging on to them since, waiting to get together with my usual “weird potato chip eating” friend LeighAnne but schedules weren’t working out and I couldn’t wait anymore.

So here I am, live blogging! My first!

I wouldn’t say these taste at all like a Bloody Mary, but they are definitely spicy. They are spicier than most spicy chips I’ve ever had. They are definitely tasty, they have a bit of a pickle-y taste to them, since McClure’s is first and foremost a pickle company. There’s a lack of tomato flavor that is the biggest issue holding them back from having a definite Bloody Mary taste. But they are good. I’d buy them again if I saw them, because I’m a sucker for spicy.

Jason bought me several jars of McClure’s Bloody Mary mix but I have yet to try them as since July our work schedules have been super weird and we haven’t had much down time for cocktailing at home. He has several other mixes he’s collected for me to try as well, winter project? Too bad I’m the only one of our friends that really likes Bloody Marys or we could have a taste testing party.

Black Swan

Day 2 in New York City we went to Brooklyn to meet someone, and they took us to lunch at the Black Swan after it was mentioned that I enjoy a good Bloody Mary. Called the Bloody Swan, this is what I want from a Bloody Mary!

blackswan1

Look at that wonderfulness! $10 for a pint of Bloody Mary with a beer chaser. None of that $25 wine glass nonsense from the night before. Ok so there were no wasabi peas, but check out the garnish!

blackswan2

Cheese, onion, olive, pickle, shrimp, lemon and bacon! A chili powder spiced rim! Delicious! The Bloody was very spicy and had a good tomato flavor with a nice citrus hint. Clearly not just tomato juice from a can. Dear lord this was one good Bloody Mary. The taste alone easily put it in my top ten, add the garnishes for extra points.

And my jalapeno mac and cheese was to die for too!

King Cole Bar

And this brings us to New York City. We took an overnight trip to NYC to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the greatest rock opera ever made, on Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris, and I wasn’t going to miss the chance to have a few good Bloody Marys. So I hit the internet to find a “best of” list for the Big Apple. Unbeknownst to me, there is a bar in Manhattan that claims to have invented the Bloody Mary – King Cole Bar.

From their website – “In 1934 St Regis bartender Fernand Petiot introduced the “Red Snapper”, which was soon to be known as the Bloody Mary. Petiot began working on the vodka and tomato juice cocktail in Paris in the late 1920s before coming to the St Regis New York. The famed cocktail as we know it was created when Serge Obolensky, a well known man about town, asked Petiot to make the vodka cocktail he had in Paris. The formula was spiced up with salt, pepper, lemon and Worcestershire sauce, but since “Bloody Mary” was deemed too vulgar for the hotel’s elegant King Cole Bar, it was rechristened the “Red Snapper”. While the name might not have caught on, the spicy drink most certainly did and over the years it has become the signature cocktail of the King Cole Bar. We are pleased to present our World Collection of St Regis Signature Bloody Mary Blends celebrating the regional influences of the original recipe created by Fernand Petiot. All are prepared with the freshest homemade mixes, and each salutes tradition with its own unique twist.”

With limited time in the city, we couldn’t hit up the vast number of places offering delicious Bloodys, but it turns out the King Cole Bar was on our walk from the apartment we rented to the theatre, so we had to stop in. Even though the reviews warned that you were going to pay for the history behind the drink, and I was aware that this *is* Manhattan after all, I felt like I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to have a Bloody Mary where it all began.

The bar was very busy and we almost walked out since there was no place to sit, or even stand, but somehow the waiters found us a tiny table and 6 chairs to jam us into a corner, despite us looking like glam rock freaks among all the suits having cocktails on the way home from work. (Hedwig *is* a rock opera if you didn’t catch that part.)

So…the Bloody.

kingcolebar

There it is in all it’s glory…A Bloody Mary…in a wine glass…with only a lemon for garnish…for $25. Twenty Five Dollars. In a wine glass. Did you miss the price. $25.

Ok fine. Like I said, it’s Manhattan, there is a history behind it, though it was far too busy to get the history, I understand you pay a premium. But for 25 damn dollars I want a Bloody Mary that is a bit bigger than freaking wine glass. The only saving grace is that it came with a bowl of wasabi peas (and almonds, not pictured). For $25 I was eating all the wasabi peas, which we did, and they brought a 2nd bowl, which came home with us in my purse.

The taste you ask! Was it the most mind blowing amazing Bloody Mary I’ve ever had? Did the taste wipe away the bad taste that came with the price? Was the first the best? No. At best it was average. I asked for it spicy, and my notes say it was, but it came with an overwhelming taste of celery which I’m not fond of.

If I was going to make a list of the most overrated Bloody Marys I’ve ever had this would surely be at the top. If you are a sucker for history, sure, take a trip to King Cole Bar and order the Red Snapper, but if you are truly looking for only the best tasting, or most creative garnishes, give this one a big old pass.

For fun, here’s the rest of our bill

receipt

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.

1 8 9 10 11 12