Posts Tagged ‘travel’

St Louis Day 1

I have returned from St Louis, unscathed. The trip was a bit touch and go for a moment, as the verdict in the Michael Brown case was initially going to come in the day I was traveling to the city, and some…trouble…was expected, but the verdict was postponed so, game on!

I was going to post from the road, but it seems the tumblr android app does not allow for posting photos inline, so I decided to just save it all for when I returned.

So let’s go!

I had some free drink tickets for Southwest Airlines that had expired in December 2013 that I brought along with me, because I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask if I could use one. They’ll say no, and I’ll have my water and continue with my craps class homework, or they’ll say yes and I’ll have a dreadful Bloody Mary. At first the flight attendant said no, but on second thought, I guess because I did ask, she said yes, and took all 5 of my tickets in exchange for one Bloody Mary.

southwest

There we go! An airplane Bloody Mary. Made with Mr and Mrs T’s Bloody Mary mix and Finlandia vodka with a lime garnish – a bigger slice of lime than you get in most bars. It was pretty dreadful of course. You have to be pretty desperate to order one on an airplane, but I figured it had to be done for the sake of the website. It was pretty damn strong though and gave me quite the headache almost immediately.

My aunt and uncle picked me up at the airport, we caught some dinner, and in the evening headed to the first destination on my list of Bloody Mary bars I wanted to try while I was visiting. I had googled “best bloody mary in St Louis” and Sub Zero came up. Voted the best vodka bar in America, they have the largest selection of vodka in the country and boast a menu featuring all sorts of creative cocktails and several different kinds of Bloody Marys.

subzeromenu

They don’t make their own Bloody Mary mix, they use Zing Zang’s, but I had only just recently heard of this brand so I was interested to try it. They don’t seem to sell it around here, or at least not where I’ve looked. The best of list recommended their Pepper-infused Mary featuring their house made 4 pepper infused vodka.

subzeropeppers

subzero

$9 in a pint glass with a salted rim. Garnished with 3 olives and a lime wedge. The Bloody had a strong celery taste and was very salty, and very pickle-y. It had a good strong spice level with visible black pepper. It was a bit thick and needed some chewing. It was good, but I didn’t find it mind blowing. I think the Bakon Bloody might have been a better choice, but I stuck with the Pepper-infused since the article had recommended it. If you go here you won’t have gone wrong, but I think I expected more. And if you like vodka, this is the place for you. They have a club which keeps track of all the different types of vodkas you drink, and you earn points and prizes including a jacket when you’ve tried all the vodkas they offer.

Before the night was over we also stopped into their favorite neighborhood restaurant, the West End Grill and Pub, for a quick snack and one more Bloody Mary.

westend

This Bloody was quite the opposite of Sub Zero’s. Served in a pint glass with 2 olives and a salt rim, the flavor and spice came strictly from horseradish as opposed to peppers or hot sauce. It was very liquidy, but not too much so, and since I like horseradish I found it to be quite good. I found a couple limes hiding at the bottom as well.

And so ends day 1. Stay tuned!

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!

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

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…

First discovery of Bacon!

A big group of us rented a house in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks for Memorial Day in 2013, planning to do some hiking, cookouts, fires, etc. Being May and all. Only it rained for the first 3 days…I mean, r.a.i.n.e.d. Monsoon. The Ausable River, which the house was on, flooded and part of the street was impassable. It was also cold (it snowed 4 feet on Whiteface Mountain!). So we were generally unprepared for the weather, including pants and jackets for some of us. I tagged along with Jenn one day as she went in to Lake Placid to buy pants and we discovered The Breakfast Club, and more importantly their menu of Bloody Marys in the window. We detoured in and I discovered the #1 Bloody Mary on my list to this day.

breakfast club menu

I really wanted the Fire Mary since I like mine spicy but how could I resist my first opportunity to get a Bacon Mary?? The bartender overheard my dilemma and suggested a marriage. The Fire Mary with bacon vodka and the bacon garnish. Heaven!

Breakfast Club

I may be a weird Bloody Mary lover as I can’t stand celery or olives, they are wasted garnish on me, but give me that bacon! It was a nice crispy well cooked slice sticking out of the mason jar, with a great spice level. Oh my god, it was good.

We went back to the house for the night, but the next day brought another trip to the Breakfast Club with the group, because we (I) had to try more of the menu. Between the group we ended up trying the Mexican and Asian (and maybe the Smokey too) as well but nothing compared to the Bacon+Fire. Top ten! Top 5! #1!

Breakfast Club

Vegas

Even though it wasn’t our first vacation after the quest began (that would be New Orleans, where I had my first Bloody Mary with a pickled green bean garnish) the tasty Bloody Mary quest really hit its stride when Jason and I went to Vegas. It was about a year after this new mission began, and where better to search than Vegas? We headed out west to attend my old friend Adrienne’s wedding, and spent a nice few days hanging out with my oldest friend Eric, Adrienne and her husband-to-be, and another friend who happened to be stationed at the air base at the time.

Again, since I didn’t think this was going to be “a thing” I don’t really have reviews of these early drinks, but I do have photos! Not good ones, but photos!

First up, Rush Lounge at the Golden Nugget.

Rush Lounge

Then, a chain, but that was the only place to eat, out where Adrienne lived…Buffalo Wild Wings…and somewhat sadly, I remember it being pretty good.

Buffalo Wild Wings

I mean, come on, it has a giant pickle!

Next, Jerry’s Nugget. Way off strip, I actually don’t even know where it is…Henderson? Laughlin? Ok not that far, but it is FAR, and we only went there because we had free play coupons we were cashing in everywhere. This was by far the worst one, basically tomato water, very small, thankfully it was free. (And I can say now, it had more garnish than my upcoming NYC Bloody!)

Jerry's Nugget

The PBR Rockhouse at the Planet Hollywood Casino. It looks like a pink fruity drink here, but it’s definitely a Bloody Mary. You can see some spice down at the bottom.

PBR bar

#5, the Goretorium. Definite points for the best atmosphere, but beyond that, I have no idea what it tasted like.

Goretorium

And the last, Hennessey’s, an Irish Pub, which I think advertised the best one in Vegas. But I don’t remember!

Hennessey's

Crisps!

Bloody Mary Crisps

Besides Bloody Marys I have a thing for strange flavored potato chips. I found these while on vacation in the UK in 2011, which is actually before my Bloody Mary search began. They just sounded interesting at the time. These were at the Lovibonds brewery in Henley-on-Thames which my friends took me to while I was visiting for the night. My facebook post said they were very good but honestly I don’t remember.

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