Smile Politely

Exploring Bloody Marys in C-U, part two

One of the few cocktails that can boast nutritional benefits, constitute as a meal in a glass, and serve as a hangover cure, the Bloody Mary has long been the chosen cocktail in the brunch of champions. The variations are endless. In part one, Merry touched a bit on the drinks’ historic origins and dove into five local establishments with Bloody Marys on the menu. In part two, I explore five more spots serving up this classic cocktail.

Destihl serves up a fun Bloody Mary ($8.75). I love that it comes with a beer chaser (did this concept of beer chaser + Bloody Mary truly originate in Wisconsin?) and a generous helping of garnishes. Granted, I don’t like many of the garnishes that accompany this type of cocktail (my husband reaps the benefits of my disdain for olives and pickles), but I enjoy seeing it all piled on top. You can choose from any of their beers on tap to be your 4oz chaser. Destihl makes their mix in-house and the bartender poured a tiny bit of it for me to taste first. It was spicy enough for me as is, but my husband asked for it extra spicy, which the bartender said they accomplish by using Absolut Peppar vodka instead of regular. The mix itself still packed plenty of kick, there’s just a tiny bit of horseradish used, and had a bit more of a shrimp cocktail sauce flavor than straight up tomato juice, which wasn’t bad at all, just different. There was good consistency too — not too thick, but not too watery. We also tried a different version using bourbon (Bulleit) in place of vodka called a Bloody Derby. You can definitely taste/identify the alcohol much more and it gives it a slightly sweeter taste. I still prefer vodka, but it will satisfy the bourbon lover looking for something different.

On Sundays, Esquire offers what they call a ‘tall fancy’ ($6.25) or a short ($4.25) Bloody Mary. The tall comes with Lawry’s seasoning around the rim, celery stick, and a long skewer of garnishes (pickled mushroom, cherry tomato, pepperoni, and a cheddar cube) while the short comes with a lime wedge. The mix is Zing Zang and they use Tito’s vodka or Absolut Peppar if you prefer it spicier. Their menu consists of traditional pub fare such as fried mushrooms and burgers which all pairs nicely with a very basic Bloody Mary. I wouldn’t come here for the Bloody Marys, but if you find yourself here and are craving one, they make one that will suffice. They are, however, known for their pineapple-infused tequila, which is delicious in a margarita.

Huaraches Moroleon
Huaraches might not be the first place you think of for Bloody Marys; heck, you might not even realize they also have an extensive breakfast menu (it’s glorious). I encourage you to go, and sure, get their Bloody Mary ($7.50 for two), but I propose you try a little something different here and ask for a Bloody Maria instead. It is a Mexican restaurant after all, and they have a pretty decent range of tequilas which you can also see on the shelves in the kitchen. My husband would even go so far as to say for you to use a Mezcal (which they also have), but the smoky flavor is a bit much for me. Since I like a really citrusy Bloody Mary, that citrus flavor also pairs really well when it’s made with tequila. And what I really like about Huaraches Bloody Mary/Maria is the salted rim. It’s got a kick of citrus from SaLimon powder combined with salt and chili powder and comes with a lime wedge. Their version of this cocktail was simple and straightforward (they use a purchased mix and the garnish was minimal), a good consistency, and was heavy on the citrus. Served in a short glass, this cocktail pairs well with most all of their breakfast options.

Every Sunday for brunch, Bloody Marys and mimosas are half price ($4.50) and Bellinis are $5 at Silvercreek. While I’m a sucker for anything made with Champagne (or just straight up Champagne), we stuck to the task at hand and ordered two Bloody Marys. The mix here is made in-house. While the bartender may not have divulged all of her secrets, she did reveal that she uses Zing Zang as the base and builds from that — you can expect a healthy amount of freshly minced garlic, celery salt and freshly ground black pepper. For the rest of the ingredients, you’ll have to rely on your own sense of taste. The flavors here are incredibly good, but if you’re a spice lover you’ll need to ask the bartender to wrench that up by several notches as it is a very mild Bloody Mary. Here they used Finlandia vodka and topped it with a generous amount of garnishes: one large dill pickle spear, one blue cheese olive, one pimento stuffed olive, and lemon and lime wedges.

V. Picasso
I haven’t eaten brunch at V. Picasso for quite some time and going there again recently for this article made me think, “why the heck not?” Their brunch menu is amazing and prices are much better than I remember. On top of all that, their Bloody Mary ($4) was seriously one of the best I’ve had in a while. Their mix of choice is Cutwater Spirits (formerly Ballast Point Spirits) Spicy Bloody Mary mix. While I’ve always been a Zing Zang lover, I may have to make this my own mix of choice as well. The flavor was great — a skillful spice blend with lots of horseradish, a nice, earthy tomato flavor, and there’s even a small touch of amber ale. Interestingly enough, the spice level worked well for us both. My husband usually prefers a fairly spicy Bloody Mary while I prefer mine more on the medium side, but this appealed to both of our palates. We went in expecting to partake in the Bloody Mary bar but the host informed us they had abandoned the concept. Needless to say, we still enjoyed our Bloody Marys made to order. They kept the garnishes simple with just three pimento stuffed olives and a lime wedge. The rim was slightly seasoned with what we thought was Old Bay seasoning and, unless requested otherwise, they use Tito’s vodka. Great flavor, price, service, and atmosphere. We were delighted. 

Of the places listed here, I’d have to say Destihl and V. Picasso are at the top of our list. The ingredients used really stood out above the rest and left us wanting more. While all the restaurants stayed close to the traditional flavors and garnishes you can expect to find in a Bloody Mary, I like that they all varied slightly from one another and supplied their own take on the cocktail recipe. Where do you find your favorite Bloody Mary?

All photos by Bobbie Bonebrake.

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