Posts Tagged ‘new york city’

Russian bar vs Russian bar – NYC

One more time, J and I went to NYC to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway. I couldn’t not go after they announced that the original Hedwig, John Cameron Mitchell, was reprising the roll. !!! It was something I didn’t think I’d ever see, and now that I have, my life is complete. He was phenomenal, even performing injured, in a knee brace! Gah. So good. If I lived in NYC I’d go catch him again for sure.

I digress.

So I tried to pre-plan more than the previous 2 trips, and figure out a place I’d like to go for a Bloody, and places for us to eat dinner so we weren’t all “I dunno” when it came time to eat. Browsing on Yelp, I came across the Russian Vodka Room, which just so happened to be across the street from our hotel. How convenient! Reviews and a glance at their website told a story of several different house infused vodkas, and specifically a horseradish infused vodka. My friend Carolyn had recently linked me to a horseradish vodka, which definitely sounded good for making Bloody Marys but the big liquor store in the area didn’t carry it. Now was my chance!

After the show we made our way to the Vodka Room and met my friend Anthony for a few drinks. J had the Sweet Doggy (Red Grapefruit Infused Vodka, Red Grapefruit Juice, Brown Sugar Rim, Mint), Anthony tried shots of their Peach & Apricot, and Ginger vodka, and we all split a flight including Cherry, Strawberry, Cranberry for sure, then maybe Pineapple and Red Grapefruit (we can’t remember and neither could the bartender), and I made J also get the Garlic Pepper and Dill against his will. And of course, I had the Red Bastard – the horseradish vodka Bloody Mary.


A lemon and lime garnish for $10, holy moly, that horseradish vodka was good. Super strong flavor in a basic Bloody mix. There didn’t seem to be any additional spice from hot sauce or pepper, just the infused vodka, in which you could see little bits of horseradish floating around. It was a simple drink, but full of flavor. Definitely recommended if you’re a horseradish fan.

Once we got the flight, and had all tasted the Garlic infusion, I added that to my drink (J was pretty disgusted by it I think haha I thought it was really good). It was half gone already, so it ended up turning into mostly a garlic drink. A small bit would be a nice addition to the Red Bastard, but perhaps not a full shot, because it was very very strong. The other flavors were decent, especially the Strawberry, Cranberry and Ginger. The 2 we couldn’t remember what they were, were not obviously any flavor, one seeming to be just vodka, the other just indistinct. I’m not a big Cherry fan, but J is and he liked it.

It just so happens that there was ANOTHER Russian bar across the street. While the Vodka Room, which is advertised as a restaurant and piano bar, and did indeed have someone playing piano, was dark and cozy, fairly classy with some Russian art, the bar across the street – Russian Samovar – also a restaurant and piano bar, was the opposite. And while the probability of us having missed a large section of the place is high, we didn’t see any part of it that looked like the photos on the website, and it was a bit dive-y. Nothing wrong with that, by the way, I’m just totally shocked looking at their website because it looks so very classy, and well, it wasn’t. They did have a piano, but no one was playing (it was after midnight for the record), they had modern pop music on and Bruno playing on tv. Both bars had giant jugs of their infused vodka around the room, with Samovar decorating them with military caps.

The infused vodkas offered were mostly the same between the 2, with Samovar having some additional ones like Tarragon, Pear, Plum and Coriander to name a few. It was late-ish so we didn’t try any of them, J just getting a Cherry vodka and soda, which tasted like cough medicine, Anthony getting one of their mixed drinks on offer, and of course, I got their horseradish Bloody Mary – the Bloody Dasha.


Garnished with lemon, lime and 3 olives for $12, it might have looked nicer because of the garnishes, but it didn’t hold a candle to the Russian Vodka Room’s drink. There was more tomato taste than horseradish, you could barely detect the horseradish at all. It wasn’t anywhere close to being awful, but I had just enjoyed an almost overwhelming horseradish vodka drink, so it was a disappointment. It was so subtle, it might be better for someone looking for just a tiny extra something in their Bloody Mary, whereas the Vodka Room’s drink would be for the hard core spice/horseradish fan.

If you’re asking me which one I’d go back to for a Bloody Mary, it’s definitely the Russian Vodka Room. But to be honest, I’d probably walk across the street to Samovar after to try some of their other flavors and drinks too. I’m equal opportunity!

NYC Again

J and I returned to New York City again, to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch…again…We couldn’t help it! They announced that Michael C Hall was going to be staring, I couldn’t miss that. And then, of course, they announce that the original Hedwig, John Cameron Mitchell himself will be returning to the role, so yep, we’re heading back again in March.

But that’s ok, I got to try a few more Bloodies. This was another quick overnight trip, and this time we drove so we didn’t have all that much time in the city, and not wanting to drive anywhere, we stayed in the general midtown area. I didn’t research any places to go ahead of time, and once we got there and I did some Googling, most places that turned up were brunch places, or not within walking distance.

The first Bloody Mary was courtesy of The Carnegie Club – a cigar bar. Blech! One has to make sacrifices for their others.


Pass. $12 in a Tom Collins glass. Garished with 2 olives and a lemon. It was plain tomato juice with some hot sauce. It had no flavor at all, but it did have a lot of vodka. The photo does look like it has some kind of seasoning in it, like pepper, but it really had zero flavor, so it might as well not been in there at all. No thanks.

After The Carnegie Club I was starving, so Google-ing “late night eats in NYC” brought us to Empanada Mama. Holy moly! A whole menu full of empanadas stuffed with all sorts of deliciousness. And they happened to have a Bloody Mary on the menu. I honestly didn’t want it, a margarita sounded much nicer but J made me.


$7 served in a rocks glass. Garnished with just a lime. There was visible pepper and spice, in a house made mix. It was very tasty, though a bit chewy due to all that spice. It didn’t mix well, the spice kept sinking to the bottom and I had to stir it up each time before I drank any. It had a citrus bite to it and a good spice level, and I didn’t even ask for it spicy (I forgot and the server didn’t ask). It’s hard to pin point a specific reason why it was so tasty, but it was good. Though I still think a margarita would have been delicious 🙂

We also stopped into an Irish Pub across the street from the Belasco Theatre right after we left Hedwig, and figuring they wouldn’t have had a Bloody Mary, I ordered a Guinness. J then asked where we could get a good Bloody, and the bartender said they had one. And not just a crap one like you’d guess, but a house made mix. Color me disappointed in my Guinness, but I didn’t want to have another drink there. The bartender let us taste the mix, which had a lot of potential (although straight mix in a glass was like drinking Ragu haha). Perhaps in March we’ll have to stop in and try it (and figure out what the name of the place was).

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!


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!


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.


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