Posts Tagged ‘garnishes’

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.

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 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:


This my friends, is a Bloody Mary Donut… 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

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


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.

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


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

Thin Man Brewery

I’m so behind! The Kentucky Derby was held during our vacation, and J looked for a party to take his sister and her boyfriend to. He was also looking for an excuse to wear his fancy linen suit! There were a few to choose from but we decided on visiting Thin Man Brewery.

Thin Man is one of the newest breweries to open in Buffalo, and it’s about to celebrate it’s first anniversary. Named after the first crash test dummy, invented in Buffalo (!), Thin Man features a nice pub menu as well as rotating selection of their beers in their 2 story location on Elmwood. There’s a nice patio too.

Kentucky Derby party at Thin Man!

It was not patio weather however (remember, we were on vacation) so we settled in to a table on the 2nd floor in front of their big “screen” projection, drank some mint julips and beer, and played this awesome game we were introduced to at Gypsy Parlor earlier in the week called Suspend. It’s like reverse Jenga, where you have to balance metal rods on a hook until someone runs out of pieces, and if it collapses, you get all the pieces. Trust me, it’s super fun.

It wasn’t until the end of the evening, after the race was run, where I saw someone at another table with a bloody mary. It didn’t even occur to me to ask if they had one! Well, guess that meant we had to stay for another round.

Thin Man beer and Bloody Mary

Garnished with the typical lemon, lime, and olive the drink also came with bacon nubs! Served hot and fresh, these squares of pork belly were nice and crisp, tasty, though I find big chunks of pork belly to be too fatty for me. Overall the drink was good but a bit heavy on the pickle flavor. It wasn’t very spicy, and it may have had a bit of horseradish in it but it was hard to tell. Not a terrible outing, but not mind blowing either.

Bacon nubs

We bet several horses, several ways, online – and lost EVERY SINGLE ONE! But my dress matched one of the TV announcer’s suit.

Derby attire

Hot Mama’s Canteen

Several years ago when I started drinking Bloodies, I had my first at Essex Street Pub from Roxy, and it was at the top of my list throughout all the drinks I had in Las Vegas in those early days. My 2nd Buffalo Bloody came from Val at Rohall’s Corner. When I ordered my drink, she asked, what kind would you like?

Whaaaaaaaa? Different kinds? She told me how she could make it fruitier, or spicier, or meatier….I can no longer remember my choice, probably spicier, but all I know is that it came close to taking the #1 spot on the list, or at least sharing it. It was delicious. She used Headstone Heat hot sauce, which she also makes and bottles for sale. But then Val left Rohall’s to open up her own bar and restaurant – Hot Mama’s Canteen. Sweet! The only problem, Val is never bar tending anymore, so no more of her amazing Bloodies.

I’ve been to Hot Mama’s many times since they opened, always at night, and they had a huuuuge drink menu, from martinis, to hot drinks, and a whole page of different kinds of Bloodies. However I was never in the mood for one, plus I was scared because it wasn’t Val behind the pine.

We paid Hot Mama a visit this week, and they shrunk their cocktail menu down to one page, but they still include one Bloody type drink: The Deniro.

I must pause to mention, these may be the worst photos I’ve ever taken. I am embarrassed to have to post them. It is seriously dark inside, and trying to use my little led “flash” didn’t help. Ugh. The worst. But here it is.

Terrible photo, tasty drink!

Julia C was behind the bar, and I decided to give her a chance. The Deniro features bourbon instead of the usual vodka, with a splash of beef stock, and tomato juice. For $10 it features a capicola wrapped fire pickle, and you can add a 2nd garnish for an extra $2. I am no bourbon fan, despite J trying to turn me into one, but it lends a sweetness to the drink that is normally lacking. It has a light tomato taste, since it’s not juice heavy, and it finishes with a nice meaty aftertaste. It was a stroonng tasting drink, and that fire pickle was NO JOKE. I love spice, and it was delicious, but it definitely would be far too spicy for many.

Capicola wrapped Fire Pickle

It really was a different drink from your “classic” Bloody Mary, so it wouldn’t be fair to Julia to compare it to one of Val’s legendary cocktails. It was tasty and easy to drink. I would imagine if you want a more traditional Bloody, you could still order one despite there no longer being a full page Bloody menu. Hot Mama’s was having a Trivia Brunch for a while, I’m not sure if they still are, but it’s on my list to get to one day.

The 2nd Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest!

After a successful first outing, Step Out Buffalo brought back the Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest for a 2nd year, this time moving from Shea’s Theater to Buffalo Riverworks. The concept was the same, 10 Buffalo bars prepare their best Bloody Mary for a thirsty crowd.

Once again, the event sold out in only a few days, and Jeff was left without a ticket. I managed to find one for him a few days before so J, Jeff and I headed out to try them all (even J decided to try them, to palate train.)

Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest 2.0

It was a nice day out, but it is still winter in Buffalo, and having to park in an overflow lot down the street, that meant coats. So suggestion #1 to Step Out Buffalo for any future winter events of any kind is: COAT CHECK! It forced everyone to make their way through an already crowded space in bulky coats and jackets, and it got hot and uncomfortable after a very short time inside.

But on to the drinks! The samples were smaller this year, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as by the end of the event last time, I got a bit tired of bloodies (sacrilege!) Tommyrotter Distillery provided the vodka again this year, and 10 different bars were in attendance, which was nice to see. My reviews will be pretty short again.

1. The Grange
Ingredients – Tomato, beet, carrot, celery, saline, horseradish, lemon, Worcestershire, tobacco, jalapeno.
Garnish – watermelon radish, pickle, pastrami

I wonder how long it took them to notice there was “tobacco” in the drink! haha!

With a spice rim, and a garnish of pickled jalapeno, meat chunk (actually pastrami), and sliced beet (actually watermelon radish), the drink had a distinct beet-y taste with a hint of smoke from the meat chunk. It was a tad salty, but a decent offering.

The Grange – Beet Box Bloody

2. Deep South Taco
Ingredients – Tomato juice, black pepper, celery salt, horseradish, Frank’s hot sauce, steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and lime juice, olive brine
Garnish – mini beef and weck taco, (savory churro bites)

Deep South Taco (I’m sorry these photos suck)

Deep South Taco had the best garnish of the day, with their savory churro bites, sprinkled with chili powder, and a beef on weck mini taco. I was glad to see most of the bars stepped up their garnish game this year. The drink was heavy on the horseradish flavor, and was quite good. It was very different (and better) than their bloody I had at the restaurant.

Wikipedia: A beef on weck (also known as beef on wick) is a sandwich found primarily in Western New York. It is made with roast beef on a kummelweck roll. The meat on the sandwich is traditionally served rare, thin cut, with the top bun getting a dip au jus and spread with horseradish.

Deep South Taco – Buffalo Traditional

3. Rusty Nickel Brewing
Ingredients – House Bloody Mary mix, Ms. Brown’s London Porter
Garnish – pepperoncini, pimento stuffed Queen olive, sweet gherkin pickle, pepperoni, candied bacon, Wisconsin cheddar. 

Rusty Nickel had great signage

I grabbed the drink, and my hands were immediately sticky, apparently from the mango habanero puree, but I didn’t taste it since I didn’t quite know what it was, and I try not to lick random sticky things. I’m not a huge mango fan, so it was good that there wasn’t overwhelming mango taste to this sample, but it did make it quite sweet. Not bad, but not my style for a Bloody. 2nd best garnish of the day.

Rusty Nickel Brewing – Mango Mary Hop Trot (we lost our sweet table spot, and had to resort to standing at the stage)

4. Lloyd Taco Factory/Truck
Ingredients – Vine ripened tomatoes 3 ways: roasted, pickled and fresh, red and green bell pepper, serrano chili, carrot, tomatillo, Lloyd rocket sauce spice blend
Garnish: pickled cherry tomato and onion pearl, (cilantro)

Nice day for a….RED WEDDING

With the cilantro garnish, I admit I was scared, as I am one of those genetic freaks who hate cilantro because it tastes like soap. I was pleasantly surprised that there was no cilantro taste in the drink, but a strong onion flavor instead. It was reminiscent of salsa, with good spice, and it tasted super fresh. It may have been my favorite of the day. Jeff hated it.

Lloyd’s Red Wedding

5. Sear
Ingredients – Fire roasted tomatoes, chipotle peppers, tomato juice, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper
Garnish – house-made salsa verde with parsley, rosemary, garlic, olive oil, black pepper, salt and chorizo sausage


Sear had someone live blow-torching their chorizo sausage garnish – badass! The drink wasn’t equally badass though. It had a decent smoky taste, but it was fairly thick from using mass produced tomato juice, and the addition of what I thought was pesto, but apparently was salsa verde, gave it a flavor that was too much like pasta sauce. It was a tad oily from the garnish, so I didn’t want to finish it all. The chorizo was good though!

The SEARious Bloody Mary

6. Winfields Pub
Ingredients – Fresh squeezed tomato, Winfield’s bloody mary spices, house mango shrub, Krista’s Jerkalicious sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce
Garnish – Pickled beets, pickled mustard seed, mint

Winfield’s Pub

Another bloody with mango, this drink was, again, a sweet take on a typically savory drink. Watching them put the drink together, I thought there was cranberry jelly and shredded carrots in it, but apparently it was mango shrub, and pickled beets? I swear it was carrot. It had a good tomato flavor, but it wasn’t for me.

No photo because it was very hard to move around upstairs at this point, and the drink wasn’t particularly visually interesting.

7. Billy Club
Ingredients – Housemade roasted tomato juice, lemon and lime juice, housemade pickled jalapeno brine, Lea & Perrins, pepper, celery salt, Frank’s hot sauce
Garnish – Lemon, housemade pickle

Billy Club

We recently had dinner at Billy Club, and it’s one of the restaurants that I’d call….hipster pretentious. Not to say it wasn’t good, but it is a restaurant that serves lots of small plates, and in the spring will surely offer ramps – WHICH ARE NOT A MEAL – and it really bugs me. Ahem, I’m sorry, long story*. Ok I’m back now. Billy Club ran out of garnishes by the time we got upstairs to give them a try, but by the sound of it, we didn’t miss that much. The drink was very pepper-y and vinegar-y. It wasn’t bad, but it was nothing special.

A 2-fer – Billy Club “Pour Choices” on the left and Colter Bay “What the Weck” on the right

8. Colter Bay
Ingredients – Tomato, olive and pickle juice, beef consumet, horseradish, mustard, Worcestershire, caraway, celery salt, Tabasco, salt and pepper
Garnish – Crouton, horseradish pickle

Colter Bay

The What the Weck bloody had a fennel and salt rim, the ingredients in “weck”, which was a great addition to this drink. It had a super strong horseradish flavor, but it had a weird after taste, maybe the beef consumet? It had too much debris though, it would have been better with a bit less.

9. Pasion
Ingredients – Tomato juice, cucumbers, red pepper, basil, celery salt, Worcestershire, lime, pineapple red wine vinegar, green tabasco, classic tabasco, tapatio, horseradish, salt and pepper, jalapeno, bitters
Garnish – Mini cubanos


Pasion is probably my favorite restaurant in Buffalo right now. It’s a Latin American restaurant, and when we go there, we order so many small plates, we never end up wanting our entree. By the time we were ready to try their bloody, they had a crazy crowd. I doubled up on the above 2, while Jeff waited to get his and J’s sample from Pasion. They had gotten theirs by the time I joined the crowd, and they both said it was worth the wait – they thought it was the best. I was excited! The mini cubano slider was delicious. But with all that build up, the drink ended up being a let down for me. I couldn’t tell why, but seeing the ingredients list, it was probably the evil cucumber. It was a bit fruity, with some spice and a spice rim. It grew on me, the more I drank, but I was sad to conclude that it wasn’t my favorite.

La Sangre de Pasion

10. Sophia’s
Ingredients – Vegetable juice, Frank’s hot sauce, A1 sauce, Worcestershire, olive brine, celery salt, black pepper
Garnish – Lemon, celery, olive, pepperoncini, tabasco (?) onions, bacon

Do you really think they had tobacco onions?

Sophia’s was another one that had a big crowd, so we skipped it to try upstairs, and came back to it at the end. By the time we did so, they were out of bacon. Booo! With a spiced rim, and pretty standard garnishes, Sophia’s was the most classic drink at the Fest. Had we known, we should have started with this, and judged all the variations after, especially J since he was palate training. It was very tomato-y and had a very strong celery flavor.

Sammy’s Simple Bloody Mary

If you got tired of drinking (ha!) this year’s fest featured some fun distractions. 2 local craft party companies were set up – Studio Hue and Buffalo Collective – offering quick crafts for $5: DIY flasks and custom pint glasses respectively. If crafting wasn’t your thing, SPACE brought several pinball machines, all with free plays, and Fabubus mobile spa was set up outside. There were snack tables set up with cheese and fruit, food available for purchase from Riverworks, and a couple vendors including ADK Blood Mary Tonic, which we picked up to review at a later date.

There was no panel of judges this year – so I didn’t get to be one. Instead they opted for public voting on the Tattle app. Unfortunately, none of us could get it to acknowledge that we were, indeed, at the Fest, so we were unable to vote. My votes would have been Lloyd for best, Deep South Taco for best garnish and Rusty Nickel Brewing for most unique. The actual winners were Sophia’s for best, and Deep South Taco for best garnish and most unique.

With the fest held in a larger location, that also allowed for a larger crowd. We intended to go a little later, in hopes to avoid having to wait in long lines for our samples, as last year it thinned out a bit after the first hour. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and we were often stuck in immovable crowds, unable to get a sample, and unable to get to a different restaurant. Riverworks is oddly shaped, so while they tried to put the restaurants back to back to provide crowd movement, it didn’t quite work out. I don’t have a suggestion to make it better, though, either. We skipped Sophia’s our first time around the main floor and headed up stairs because by the looks of the balcony railing, it looked to be empty. Wrong. Upstairs it was worse, as it was an even smaller space, with the same number of restaurants set up – plus the photo “booth” and 2 craft areas (and VIP. Yes, there was a VIP area, but we did not choose that route this time. I’m not sure it would be beneficial, as you still have to wait in long lines to get your samples, and then get back upstairs to a more open area to sample in peace). The crowd didn’t thin out until about 3:30, and by then many of the restaurants had run out of garnishes, and you wouldn’t be getting their best.

All that said, we still had a great time, and enjoyed all the different offerings. By the end, we were a little bloody mary-ed out, so we finished the afternoon with mimosas!

I have more photos from the fest to share, but I’ve been writing this for 2 hours, and I need to get ready for pub trivia!

J, me, and Jeff – Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest 2017

*When we were in NYC for Hedwig and the Angry Inch and got stuck an extra night due to our flight being canceled our group had dinner at a restaurant in Brooklyn. There were 7 of us I believe, and we ordered the entire menu – mainly small plates, one of them being ramps. I didn’t know what ramps were at the time, but I quickly found out, they are not food. A plate with 5 pieces of, essentially, grass, is not a meal! It’s a garnish! It’s what you add to real food to season it! It makes me so angry! The other small plates were at least real food, but no where near enough to feed 7 people satisfactorily.

Super Sunday Brunch at Fat Bob’s

The Superbowl has come (and gone) and being from Buffalo, by default I have to hate the Patriots. So booo on that admittedly incredible comeback. In reality, I am not a football fan (Go Sabres!), but I am a brunch and bloody mary fan, and Fat Bob’s Smokehouse was having a Super Sunday Brunch with a “build your own bloody” special. Sign me up!

I have had Fat Bob’s standard bloody before, and having re-read my review to refresh my memory, it wasn’t fantastic. It was a good start, with a tasty house made mix, but lacked anything to make it special. Enter their BYOB menu.

Fat Bob’s BYOB menu

So many choices! Where does one even begin?

At the top I suppose. Priced at $6.50 to start, my assumption is that if you didn’t choose a vodka (or other liquor) for an additional dollar, you would get well vodka and not a Virgin Mary. I was overwhelmed with all the choices for additional flavors, and extras to add. With so many choices, J decided to create one for me as well.

Double Fisting!

My creation:

  • Ketel one
  • Fat Bob’s hot sauce
  • horseradish
  • home made bacon
  • jalapenos
  • pickle
  • pepperoni
  • cheese cube

My BYOB creation

Once again, their mix had a good tomato flavor, and adding in their hot sauce and horseradish turned what was formerly a bit of a let down into a great, SPICY, tasty drink. Usually I’m a fan of my bacon being super crispy, nearly burned, but when it’s house made and thick, I’ll accept limp bacon. It was delicious (I had some more from the buffet too). Sadly, unless I somehow missed it at the bottom of the glass, my pickle and pepperoni were forgotten, but I got the standard celery (which was listed as an add-on) lemon, and lime garnishes.


J’s creation:

  • Tito’s vodka
  • Fat Bob’s hot sauce
  • Cajun seasoning
  • crushed red pepper
  • A1 steak sauce
  • bitters
  • cayenne pepper
  • grilled cheese
  • shrimp skewer

Garnish game!

It’s really neat how the “same” drink can turn out so very different. This cocktail had a sweet taste to it, along with more citrus notes. It was spicy, but it was hard to tell if it was spicier than my creation, as my tongue was already burning. I didn’t feel like it was overwhelmingly Cajun, but perhaps the flavor got overpowered by the hot sauce and other additions. Topped with half a grilled cheese sandwich and 4 shrimp, it also had the standard lemon, lime and celery garnish.

Grilled cheese FTW!

For anyone who was overwhelmed by the BYOB choices, they still offered “classic” bloody marys with a variety of liquors to choose from.

I forced J to try both, as I continue to palate train him, and he didn’t hate them! Our waitress came by and saw me with both drinks though, and she was concerned that he didn’t like his. J told her I had a blog, and they were both for me, and then the catering manager came to talk to us, and they’re going to read this post, and man, that puts the pressure on to 1. write a post worth reading and 2. not be mean. Luckily, both drinks were tasty, and other than a few missing garnish choices, I have nothing bad to say 🙂

I honestly don’t know if Fat Bob’s offers brunch normally, but if they don’t, they should keep this BYOB menu available. I imagine it can get annoying for the bar tenders, but they have a good base mix to start from, and with all the choices on the list, a guest can create the perfect drink for them.

2 shots of my drinks from the Fat Bob’s Instagram, taken by Cory Watson. I was the first to get a grilled cheese.

New York Beer Project

2 years ago one of my friends and co-workers invited me to be a part of our company’s trivia team for Cradle Beach’s “Buffalo’s Smartest Company” fundraiser each spring. Our company won a few years ago, but as they like to pick on me, we haven’t won since I joined the team. 🙁 I like trivia, and showing off weird knowledge, even if I do feel pretty stupid now that I’ve finished my first season playing Learned League (I came in 18th of 24, and had several competition days where I scored zero, boo!) So of course, bar trivia is a good mix of smarts and spirits, and we will attend different styles at different places around Buffalo, the most recent one occurring at the New York Beer Project in Lockport, NY.

J and I headed over there a bit early, as we had nothing else to do, and good thing we did! We were told it started at 9 but when we got there at 8:30, it had already started. We joined in late as The Dirigible Plums, as we waited for our other friends to show up, and the quiz master gave us a free 10 points to make up for missing most of the first round.

We’ve visited NYBP before and tried all their beers, but J got a flight again, and I decided on trying their Bloody Mary.

New York Beer Project Bloody Mary

Served in a hurricane glass for $10, the NYBP had some garnish game going on – cheese cubes, pepperoni, pepper, bacon, shrimp, and olives on a skewer. The drink had a good amount of spice, good tomato flavor, with a hint of pickle. It was a decent offering from a brewery, and I’d have one again if I wasn’t in the mood for beer.

We ended up winning trivia night, by a lot. Guess we didn’t need those free 10 points!

Twelve Whiskey Barbecue

Last October we headed to Arizona for the Phoenix Taco Fest, and this year we decided to go down to Pittsburgh for their first Taco Fest at Hop Farm Brewing Company. Because who doesn’t like tacos? (Admittedly, I did not like tacos or Mexican food until the last 10 years. But you can forgive a child for not being an adventurous eater, right? Now, I’d say it’s probably my favorite style of food.)

I contacted a friend in Pittsburgh to let her know that we’d be in town, and she sent me a photo of a wonderful looking, massive bloody mary, and plans were made to meet at Twelve Whiskey Barbecue for brunch.

Jesus. Christ.

Jesus. Christ.


Look. At. That.

A different view of the magnificence.

A different view of the magnificence.

Presenting the Big Azz Bloody. Where do I even start with this thing? Well let’s start with the price. $15. $15!!! For all of that!!! That seems totally completely reasonable! Considering I didn’t need to order any food to go along with it (well I ordered 2 fried eggs because it was breakfast and all), it was a cheaper brunch than usual all things considered.

Served in a larger than normal mason jar, this thing was loaded with goodies. For the big stuff, there was a full grilled cheese cut into 4 triangles (as it should be!), a chicken finger, a slider, and waffle fries. For the little stuff, there were 2 slices of sausage, a pickle, olives, jalapeno slices, a celery stalk and cocktail onions.

A close up look.

A close up look.

I was really so overwhelmed by the garnishes, that I don’t have a lot to say about the drink itself. My immediate reaction to the first sip was that it was very tomato-y. There was a bit of spice to it, and it was definitely drinkable. (They also offer an ordinary bloody mary that I would imagine contains the same mix.) As expected, putting hot garnishes on a cold drink, they did not stay warm, but that’s ok, they were all good.

I am almost sad that the drink was such a meal, because I’d have liked to try some of the dishes on their brunch menu, but I just knew I would not need to be eating anything else with this massive cocktail. And as it turned out, by the time Taco Fest rolled around later that afternoon, I was still not hungry, so add that to the rain (because, of course), and long lines at the event, the fest wasn’t that exciting. :/ I managed to stuff some tacos into my face, and they were decent, but by then it really started to pour so we just couldn’t enjoy it. There is potential there, as every Taco Fest has potential, but it just didn’t do it for me this time around.

Belsito Buffalo

Browsing through Facebook the other day, I saw mention of a wine bar in J’s neighborhood that we never noticed before – Belsito. After some investigation, it looked good, so I suggested we stop there between our tour of the SS Columbia and heading to the Erie County Fair for the rest of the night. We must have walked and driven by this restaurant 1000 times, and never noticed it was there, but I’m glad we finally found it.

I wasn’t expecting to have a bloody mary when we decided to go there, and J suggested a bottle of Proseco before I noticed the cocktail menu. It had been a while since I had a good bloody (no thanks to Templeton Landing!), so I gave it a shot.

Belsito Bloody

Belsito Bloody

I forget how much the drink was, $8 or $9, the bloody comes with 3 mozzarella stuffed olives, and a few basil leaves. I loved the fancy ice, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that kind of ice in a drink, and it’s fun! Their bloody featured local Lockhouse vodka, and a house made mix. It was quite liquidy, but it was nice, since it’s summer and I didn’t really want a heavy drink. It was really mild on the spice scale (once again I didn’t ask for it spicy, I wonder what they would have added), and it had a good tomato flavor. It was quite refreshing, which you can’t always say about bloody maries.

Mozzarella stuffed olives

Mozzarella stuffed olives

I felt obligated to eat an olive, since it was a key part of the drink. Unfortunately I still don’t like olives.

It was a really nice day out, and the patio along the street was comfortable until our pizzas arrived, along with the bees and forced us indoors. Belsito is a nice spot, worth another visit for sure.

Speaking of Lockhouse Distillery, they are debuting their bloody mary mix with a party tomorrow. I’m excited! Review to come!

Washington DC!

In the middle of last year my friend Cassie moved to Washington DC for a new job, and my first thought was 1. I should go to a Sabres/Capital game in DC some time, and 2. DC has a Bloody Mary Fest!! I had my first random vacation week booked for the end of April, and their Fest is some time in the spring, but I waited, and waited, and waited, and WAITED for them to announce the date hoping it was magically during the week I already had off, or if not, a week I could switch to, but I finally gave up and booked a flight to visit her. What takes them so long to figure it out?! Ugh.

But I wasn’t going to let the lack of a Fest deter me from having a selection of DC’s Bloody Marys. I asked the Bitches who Brunch on Twitter for recommendations, googled the hell out of it, and gathered a list of places to potentially try. First up was Founding Farmers.

The Bitches pointed me in the direction of last year’s Fest winners, which included Founding Farmers with their chicken and waffle garnish. Whaaaaat? Unfortunately when I tweeted the restaurant about the garnish, it was something special only for the fest, but their menu looked so good we went there for breakfast my first day in town before heading down to the Williamsburg area for the day.

Founding Farmers Bloody Mary - no chicken and waffle garnish :(

Founding Farmers Bloody Mary – no chicken and waffle garnish 🙁

For $12, Founding Farmers bloody featured their house made mix with habanero infused vodka, and is served every day, not just for brunch on weekends. It took a little while for me to get my drink, our food had already arrived, but the waitress claimed it was because they had made a fresh batch of their vodka and she wanted to make sure I had the new stuff. Ok, cool. There was only a lime for garnish, with a spiced rim and visible spice in the mix. It was really delicious, a bit tart, a nice pepper taste, and a tiny bit of smokey habanero flavor. The heat level was purely from the infused vodka, with no hint of any vinegary hot sauce thankfully. Very good, I recommend it if you are in the area of one of their 3 locations.

After breakfast we drove to the Williamsburg area to try to see the load of giant President heads sitting in a field, which we failed at, and to visit the Historic Jamestowne site (not the Jamestown Settlement museum and reenactment site, which you reach before you get to the National Park, and probably tricks everyone like it tricked us. Luckily they gave us a refund when we realized we were not where we wanted to be. It’s probably a perfectly nice place to visit, but we wanted to see the actual colony that they are still conducting archeological digs at.)

Jamestowne, Arlington, Arboretum

Jamestowne, Arlington, Arboretum

Saturday turned out to be the big day – 3 drinks at 3 different places. We decided on trying the Evening Star in Alexandria for brunch, because their bloody features a bit of grilled cheese sandwich and bacon for garnish. The restaurant was really cute, decorated with all sorts of things made from erector sets, and fun shadow box “alternative art”.

Grilled cheese garnished bloody!

Grilled cheese garnished bloody!

Costing $7, this bloody comes in a fancy little glass with their fun little garnish. I didn’t know how big the sandwich piece was going to be, but I thought it was fair, especially for the price (which I thought was fairly cheap.) Upon taking a sip I was immediately hit with pickle flavor, but while I’ve complained about strong pickle flavor before, it wasn’t bad. It was balanced nicely with the other flavors in the drink. There was a decent spice level, nothing overwhelming, and visible pepper in the drink. The garnishes were cold, but that was to be expected.

Bacon garnish is always welcome.

Bacon garnish is always welcome.

I enjoyed the drink, but I can’t really say the same for my breakfast. I ordered the breakfast burrito, which wasn’t at all spicy, was smaller than expected, and didn’t have much of any taste. It came with a salad, which is always a let down hahaha. I was hungry very quickly afterwards, but that turned out to be a good thing.

On the way to the restaurant we drove past Arlington Cemetery, and while the National Arboretum had been the goal for the day, we decided to visit Arlington as well. Very nice, solemn spot, and we had perfect timing to witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As a “newer” country, without a monarchy or anything like that, it sometimes feels like we don’t have much heritage or ritual, but things like the changing of the guard makes you realize that we do.

We started the drive to the Arboretum and looking at the map on my phone I realized we’d be driving right by one of the other bloody mary spots on my list – Buffalo and Bergen inside Union Market – and it was one of the ones with the most potential. I made Cassie detour to the market for me 🙂

Union Market was super cool, if not super hipster, with a ton of little food booths. So many choices that looked delicious, I’d definitely frequent the market if I lived near by. But this trip there was only one destination and one thing to be ordered – the Lox’d and Loaded Bloody Mary from Buffalo and Bergen.



Oh holy Jesus, look at that bloody! A bloody mary with an everything bagel sandwich featuring cream cheese, onions, capers and a giant serving of lox, finished off with a lemon and pickle on top, and a large slice of lettuce underneath to keep the sandwich dry (brilliant!!) At $19.50, this is the 2nd most expensive bloody mary I’ve ever ordered but given the fact that the sandwich alone would have been $10.75, it was totally reasonable. After being overwhelmed by the sandwich (which was delicious – first time eating lox, and it was pretty good) the drink had a very spicy, fresh taste. It was clearly spicy from Frank’s hot sauce, which made it a bit too vinegar-y for me, but it was do-able because of a hint of horseradish and bit of pepper. Clearly the best garnish I’ve had in my bloody mary drinking career.

We finally made it to the Arboretum with an hour to explore, so we didn’t get to see that much, but it has a ton of potential for future visits. There are a lots of little paths into the various garden areas, plus with Cassie and I taking tons of photographs of the various flowers and plants, we’d really need all day there.

That night we went to Okra’s in Manassas to see Cassie’s friend play jazz, and since there was a bloody on the menu, guess I had to order it. Called the Proud Mary, it had no description in the menu, but I made sure it was actually a bloody, and the waitress said it was, but spicier. Game on.

Proud Mary keep on burning!

Proud Mary keep on burning!

Garnished with 2 olives and a lime, it had a Cajun garlicky spiced rim. Served in a hurricane glass, the drink had a heavy celery taste, and was not too spicy despite what the waitress said. There was a lot of cracked pepper in the drink, and no vinegar taste. It was drinkable but fairly basic. I ordered the Pasta Diablo, which was delicious, and the jazz was good even though I know nothing about jazz haha.

Sunday we visited the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum in VA, an extension of the museum on the National Mall, which features the Space Shuttle Discovery…!!!…Oh man, it was awesome to see the shuttle in person, plus other legendary air craft like the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, which was ridiculous, and the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb.

OMG THE SHUTTLE! (and the SR-71 and Enola Gay)

OMG THE SHUTTLE! (and the SR-71 and Enola Gay)

Monday I was on my own as Cassie had to work, but I made the most of it even if I didn’t get to have any more bloody marys. I began my day by visiting almost every memorial beginning at Einstein and Lincoln, and ending at Jefferson and Washington before crossing town to go to the National Zoo. According to my fitness tracker I took nearly 28,000 steps and walked 12 miles. I was just about dead by the end and happy to sit on a plane home, even if I did have to go through a torrential downpour to get to the car, including walking through a river to put my luggage in the trunk, and stepping into a virtual pond where the water was over my sneakers, filling them enough that I could pour the water out. BECAUSE IT WOULDN’T BE ONE OF MY VACATIONS IF I DIDN’T GET COMPLETELY SOAKED AT SOME POINT!!!

Jefferson Memorial, and Washington Monument in the mist.

Jefferson Memorial, and Washington Monument in the mist.

My fav president FDR, and the Jefferson Memorial

My fav president FDR, and the Jefferson Memorial

I had a great time visiting Cassie, and a few nice cocktails. I’d call that a successful trip.

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