Summer Fridays: Refreshing bloody mary remixes

While any two are hardly alike, we’re always looking for ways to mix up the bloody mary. Literally and metaphorically.

It’s summer. It’s (sort of) hot. Why not enjoy your favorite bloody in solid form? Or icy form? Genius ideas we only wish we could take credit for.

Without further ado, we leave pay tribute to the bloody mary lovers who tried it first.

Bloody Mary popsicles

This is bloody effing genius. We imagine this would be the talk of any outdoor brunch or early afternoon summer BBQ. There are a handful of variations on the Pinterests, but we’re most intrigued by this variation that is made with ginger-infused vodka, fresh ginger, limes and even celery sticks. If we make nothing else new this summer, it’s got to be this.

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Photo and recipe by Fork and Beans

Fresh frozen bloody marys

We recently discovered the slightly savory Negroni slushy at Parson’s (at least the other half of us did). Quickly do you remember the brain freeze you used to get when you were a kid. Except this time with booze. We’re intrigued by this frozen version of our favorite drink. Let the slushy obsession continue.

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Photo and recipe by Cookie and Kate

Bloody mary shots

No two words evoke painful hangover flashbacks quite like “jello shots.” This version seems slightly more grown-up and sophisticated than the Dark Eyes-filled strawberry ones you slurped down on spring break of yesteryears. It even includes celery. That means it’s healthy, right?

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Photo and recipe by IMPROV Kitchen

The summer’s already half over, and we clearly have more work to do. Like post more often. Slackers.

Tell us if you happen to try one of these ice cold summery concoctions. Until next time!

-A & E

 

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Bloody, Homeslice

As you may recall, a few months back, we partnered with Thrillist to bring you Chicago’s 10 most ridiculous bloody marys.

On that list was the “Bloody” at Homeslice, an oversized bloody mary that comes topped with a cold slice of Hawaiian pizza, pepperoncini and pepperoni.

Well, we love bloodies. And cold pizza—even when we’re not hungover. Who doesn’t? We had to give this one a try. We didn’t brunch at Homeslice but this dashing combo provided the perfect afternoon snack.

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First things first, we couldn’t help but chuckle when the server asked us if we wanted a “Low Life” to accompany it. Errr, you mean a High Life pony?

Beyond the pizza garnish, the bloody itself is quite delicious. Not too spicy, but just right, with notes of celery salt. While the bloody mary was tasty, the cold pizza garnish stole the show. The sweet pineapple tangoed with the saltiness of the Canadian ham to be tangy and perfectly balanced. The pizza was cold, but the crust remained vigilant against sogginess. All in all, a solid hangover cure and delicious drink in one.

Will we be back for the pizza? You bet your low life we will. :)

Bloody, Homeslice: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 3.5

Spicy: 3

Treats:4

Creativity: 3.5

Overall: 3.5

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Cheers to Chicago’s First Bloody Mary Competition

We basically died and went to bloody mary heaven yesterday.

The inaugural Chicago Bloody Mary Competition, held at Park West, featured bloody marys from 15 bars and restaurants from around the city. Your event ticket got you a 3 oz. bloody mary sample from each spot, passed brunch snacks, plus a chance to win raffle prizes and vote for the cocktail that would rule the city.

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Jam Productions is known for putting on concerts. So, why bloodies? Between sips, we were able to sneak in a quick chat with Brian Ferber, the brainchild behind the competition and event producer at Jam Productions.

“There’s something broader than the bloody mary—it’s what Sunday Funday has become. People in Chicago like drinking during the day probably more so than going to clubs late night. I think it’s more relaxed. It’s Midwest. It’s Chicago, ” said Brian.

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There’s so many different things that could be done with the bloody mary. I felt like there was something there to tap into and bring that community together. I was blown away by how fast our inaugural event sold out.

With so many bloodies under one roof, we can see why tickets went so quickly. We could easily write posts on each of these amazing bloodies, but here are the highlights.

Bub City

This BBQ joint has been on our radar for some time. So much work, so little time. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek here. This bloody has a robust flavor and includes an interesting mix of spices and rubs you might guess from a BBQ spot. This one won for garnish hands down with its blue cheese-stuffed olive, pepperoncini, cheese, adorable mini celery stick and more. Word on the street is there’s a garnish bar at the restaurant. We’ll see you soon, Bub.

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Three Aces

We haven’t formally reviewed Three Aces but half of this duo has had the bloody, so we knew it was good coming in. What sets this one apart are a few unexpected ingredients like bacon sriracha, fish sauce, garlic and hops pickle juice and Revolution Eugene Porter. The pickled veggie garnishes were well received as well. As if Three Aces’ patio wasn’t reason enough to go.

Headquarters Beercade

Their Slip n Slider bloody mary, which comes topped with a White Castle slider and was featured on our Thrillist list for most ridiculous bloody marys, didn’t make an appearance. However, we give major props for Headquarters’ for taking a unique spin—a green roasted tomatillo bloody mary that included cilantro, lime, green apples and grapes. What. Also our pal Tim was the genius behind it.

Sunda

We love Sunda. We love the Sumo Mary. And basically anything Chef Jess creates. So we were stoked to see his crew’s latest creation, which will be launched at brunch soon. The mix is tweaked slightly and the garnish has a surf and turf angle, with a chicken foot thrown in for good measure. Look for this one on the menu soon.

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Shoe’s 

This bloody was the sleeper. We talked to owner Dean for a few minutes and his passion came through in this bloody. It has a memorable, distinct dill flavor that stood out from the rest. Yet another bloody mary destination we’re looking forward to trying.

Fat Cat

The fans voted. And the winner was…Fat Cat in Uptown! We knew this one was a strong contender right away. It instantly dwarfed every other bloody in the spiciness department, yet it had a sweet edge. Most likely due to BBQ sauce, if our palates are right. Plus, the bacon in the garnish was absolutely incredible. We’ve been but will be back for an official review soon.

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What an amazing event and array of bloodies. Will there be another one next year?

“We’re not going to wait until next year. We’re going to do one in the fall,” said Brian.

We like the sound of that.

Cheers, Elaine & Amber

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Summer Fridays: 5 must-follow bloody mary bloggers

Chicago’s Bloody Mary Competition is on Sunday! The fact that it sold out super quickly says we’re not the only ones who love this amazing brunch cocktail. Duh.

In fact, we’re not the only bloody mary bloggers out there. Truly. We weren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last. Luckily, these likeminded folks on a similar pursuit can show you the ropes in the bloody mary scene wherever you live or travel outside Chicago. Here are five bloody mary bloggers we love and with whom we’d love to share a drink.

Out for Bloodies

Based in the other city obsessed with the bloody mary, Milwaukee, Catlin Moyer gives you honest reviews of the bloodies in her fair city, served with a side of sass. Plus, she travels quite a bit (note: she works for a sports team) and gives you a taste of the bloody mary scenes in places like Arizona and SF. From what we know of her, we’d love to drink some bloodies with this girl.

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The Drunken Tomato

Shelley Buchanan means serious business when it comes to bloody marys. She’s your go-to resource for all things bloody mary in SoCal. She even recently published a bloody mary book of the same name and is taking her bloody mary empire nationwide. Plus, we simply love her “celery stalk” rating system.

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Bloody Mary Tourist

We love this blog because it’s a bloody mary and travel guide all in one. Our lovely tour guide travels for work and we get to benefit with reviews and travel tips from places like Atlanta, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Boca Raton, Seattle…and the list continues.

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Damn Good Bloody Mary

This Brooklyn-based bloody mary blog is a newer one on our radars. The photos alone make us want to hop on a plane to NYC and brunch in the boroughs  ASAP.

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Bloody Marys of Milwaukee

Shannon, who’s also a lovely photographer by trade, runs Bloody Marys of Milwaukee, another blog documenting this Midwest city’s love of our tomato brunch cocktail. Besides the delicious looking drinks, she has a handy guide to the best and worst contenders. Between this blog and Out for Bloodies, we’ve made Milwaukee a must-stop this summer.

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Honorable mention goes to fellow Chicagoan Jeff from Best Bloody Mary Blog. While we’re featuring out of town folks in this post, we hope to meet you at the Bloody Mary Competition this week.

Any other bloody mary blogs out there we should know about? Shout them out. Happy bloody mary drinking this weekend, everyone!

-A&E

Note: Photography via authors of their corresponding blogs. 

 

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Bloody Mary, Summer House Santa Monica

Oh summer, you’re such a tease.

You’re here for now after months of not showing your face. The sunshine and warmth are nice. Please stay.

Luckily, for when the weather decides to play hard to get, we now have Summer House Santa MonicaNext winter (or even next week, who knows) when it’s cold and you can’t afford a plane ticket to the west coast, let Summer House be your airy, sunny (albeit short) getaway. Come meet your future cure for seasonal affective disorder.

We’ve been dying to try this joint since it opened a few months ago. Hot, cold, whatever the actual season: this place gets busy. Luckily, we were able to belly up the the bar, where the brunch cocktails and food don’t play hard to get.

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At first sip, this bloody mary was decidedly fresh, briny and good. But different. We couldn’t put our tastebuds on it, so we consulted the bartender. Cumin makes the difference.

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We were quite taken with the garnish as well. Crispy bacon, cucumber, blue cheese stuffed olive, one standard green olive, celery, lemon and lime.  A homerun if only there had been TWO blue cheese stuffed olives.

The brunch menu has an array of healthier SoCal-inspired offerings such as granola, egg whites, spinach, avocado and kale. Of course, we went the more indulgent route. And after hemming and hawing about the roasted turkey eggs benedict or breakfast tostadas, we heeded our bartender’s advice and both went for the the breakfast tostadas. Because that’s how we do.

And wow, no regrets. Pulled chicken with sunny side up eggs, avocado, queso fresco, ranchero, atop crispy tortillas. Holy crap, get this. So good.

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Well, you know where you can find us in the winter months: using Summer House as a SAD lamp and crying into our bloody marys about the cold. Or whenever, this place is great. Until then, we explore on. Hopefully on sunny patios. Cheers!

Bloody Mary, Summer House Santa Monica: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 3.5

Spicy: 3

Treats: 3.5

Creativity: 3

Overall: 3.25

 

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Summer Fridays: 5 patio-ready cocktails

We’re stoked to introduce our newest series, Summer Fridays. A laid-back way to start your weekend of brunching off right.

For our first post, we’re offering inspiration for one of our favorite summer pastimes: imbibing patio style. Five drinks from some of our favorite cocktail and lifestyle bloggers come practically begging to be enjoyed outdoors. Ones we can’t wait to craft and enjoy in the name of summer. Here goes.

Smashed Raspberry Lemonade | A Beautiful Mess

We have girl crushes on the ladies at A Beautiful Mess. Everything they create is gorgeous and delicious. They’ve even inspired us to replicate the Blood Orange Bloody Mary and Carrot Bloody Mary. We can’t imagine this fizzy concoction with freshly muddled raspberries, lemon juice, limoncello and triple sec would disappoint either.

A Beautiful Mess

The Porch Swing | Maddie Richardson

A cocktail with gin, fresh grapefruit juice, rosemary simple syrup? Call us. Everything about this cocktail sounds fresh and (re)freshing. And Maddie is on the money—making simple syrup is maybe the easiest thing you’ve made. Go to the site for the cocktail. Stay for the aesthetically pleasing photography.

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Smoky Beer Sangrita | Stir and Strain

We have a thing for tomato-based drinks. Yeah. This sangrita seems to be a smoky, citrusy take on the cocktail after our own hearts. Also similar to a michelada, but made with harissa and an array of citrus instead of hot sauce. We also love that Stir and Strain calls itself a “cocktail scratchpad” in that Elana is putting cocktail ideas in pixels as a starting point for making them tastier.

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St. Germain Sangria | Oh Beautiful Paper

We’re typically red wine kind of gals, but white wine can woo us when it comes in the form of sangria. We’re interested to see what happens when you combine dry white with the floral of St. Germain and the oaky flavor of pisco brandy. Guess there’s only one way to find out. We also adore the calligraphy and emphasis on stationary on this site.

St Germain sangria

Spicy Cucumber Margarita | Bon Appétit

Sure, you’re probably saying: Bon Appétit isn’t technically a blog. Touché. But they usually never steer us wrong gastronomically. This particular recipe is surprisingly simple for the magazine. It’s an easy margarita recipe with jalapeno that stays cool with cucumber.

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Here’s to the beginning of a fantastic summer, loves. For more summer cocktail ideas, check out our Pinterest board. Cheers!

Note: Photography and recipes via authors of their corresponding blogs. 

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Serious Bloody Mary, Eleven City Diner

People always ask what’s our favorite bloody mary. This doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, we have a bloody mary blog.

Some of our go-to responses include Twisted Spoke, Little Goat and Au Cheval, which are all consistently awesome and delicious. The ones you could drink over and over. The ones that could convert the non-believer.

There’s another one that should be on this list. The Serious Bloody Mary at Eleven City Diner. We’ve had it too many times to count. For one of us, it’s a neighborhood go-to. It’s been there in desperate times of hangover need. Perhaps we’ve never reviewed it because DUH, WE ALREADY KNOW IT’S SUPER GOOD. But dammit, doesn’t deserve its time to shine?

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As mentioned, the Serious Bloody Mary is seriously effing good. Tangy, spicy, peppery and generous with the celery salt. It has a heavy, yet not-too-heavy, tomato taste. They’ll try to sell you on premium vodka, but it’s thick enough you don’t need it. Unless you’re fancy. The garnish aims to please with a celery stick, lemon, olives, salami and swiss. Plus, a cute Eleven City flag.

Love it? You can buy the mix for around $7 and DIY at home.

The food at Eleven City aims to please as well. Menu options range from Jewish deli faves like bagels and lox to one of our faves, chilaquiles. We’re suckers for Mexican brunch fare, but these chilaquiles are done particularly well. They get slightly soggy as they should and  perfected when you add salsa, sour cream and a ton of Cholula. Other stand-outs are the matzo ball soup, Coco’s Eggs and the new breakfast sandwich.

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We’ve never been to the newer Lincoln Park location, but we can imagine it has the same tasty menu and 50s crooner and big band music.

Serious Bloody Mary, Eleven City Diner: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4.25

Spicy: 4

Treats: 4.25

Creativity: 4

Overall: 4.125

Eleven City Diner is located at 1112 S. Wabash and 2301 N. Clark. 

 

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Bloody Mary, Big Jones

We didn’t make it to Mardi Gras. Or JazzFest. Something tells us even if we had, the highlight of either imaginary trip would have been the food.

We found the best known Chicago substitute for Big Easy eating in the form of brunch at Big Jones. And we’ll take any excuse to wander about the quaint streets and charming shops of Andersonville. It’s the adorable neighborhood either of us might live in if we were real grown ups.

As you might guess, Big Jones has a distinctly Southern flair. The brunch menu, as you might also guess, features dishes abounding with shellfish, grits, greens, biscuits and Cajun flavors.

The bloody mary at Big Jones was no exception. We liked it because of its freshness and simplicity. Like much Southern fare, it doesn’t try too hard because it doesn’t need to. Lemon and Crystal hot sauce flavors take the stage, so the taste wasn’t too, shall we say, “tomato-y.” Just simple, slightly spicy, and delicious.

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Hot sauces have become a topic of interest lately because they’re not just about different peppers and varieties. Each seems to have a local tie. Crystal, for example, is the “#1 hot sauce of Lousiana” adding cayenne pepper and a distinct vinegar flavor to this bloody. Also guest starring was housemade worcestershire and fresh horseradish. We also appreciated the delicious simplicity of pickle and okra garnish.

Now the food. We understand why Big Jones often makes the best-of-Chicago brunch lists. We get it, big (Jones) time. For starters, literally, you get complimentary beignets with your meal. Light, warm, fluffy and slightly sweet and savory. These were gone in minutes.

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Had we known about the complimentary beignets, we may not have ordered the biscuits as starters. Or maybe. The menu said they came with a blackberry jam, but we were pleasantly surprised with this hot peppery jam that played nicely with the slightly sweet biscuits.

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Carbs. If we didn’t have enough carbs already, we BOTH ordered the corn griddle cakes. They’re two savory corn pancakes (with cheddar in between!), topped with spicy green tomato salsa, two fried eggs, avocado and sour cream. With loads of black beans. So, so good. So good.

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Our brunch guest Theresa ordered the Eggs New Orleans that comes with crab cakes, poached eggs and bearnaise sauce. I mean, come on.

We can’t say enough good things about this bloody and brunch. We’re already Jonesing to go back. Until next time, friends. Happy brunching.

Bloody Mary, Big Jones: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4.25

Spicy: 4

Treats: 3.5

Creativity: 4

Overall: 3.9

 

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Sumo Mary, Sunda

After months of hearing and talking about it, this actually happened.

The Sumo Mary, a massive bloody mary that requires bold feats of brunch wrestling strength. We first heard of it from fellow brunch enthusiast Gourmet Rambler. We listed it as Chicago’s most ridiculous bloody mary on Thrillist. We got acquainted with it on Windy City Live! It was time to get to Sunda and experience its magnitude for ourselves.

We’re gonna be completely honest for a second. Bloodies with crazy garnishes get lots of attention, but we don’t buy the hype. The gimmick often overshadows the flavor of actual cocktail.

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This isn’t the case with the Sumo Mary. We were blown away by the taste. Hyperbole warning: it’s one of the best we’ve had this year. It’s 32 ounces of refreshment with generous cilantro and cucumber flavors. Plus, according to executive chef Jess Deguzman, it also includes a Vietnamese dipping sauce Nước chấm, a garlic vinaigrette and Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, giving this bloody mary its unique, distinctly Asian flavor.

Now for the reason we’re all here: the garnish. Chef Jess created this bloody masterpiece using ingredients he already had in the kitchen. Are you ready for this? It consists of a baked Alaska crab roll, Chinese duck bao bun, a piece of thick braised pork belly and grilled cheese with tochino (Filipino sausage). Then comes all the side items: oshinko (Japanese pickled radish), roasted potatoes, shishito peppers, loompya (Filipino egg roll), Chinese broccoli and four piece of bacon.

This bloody mary isn’t for the faint of heart, and neither is its price tag at $40. But when you think about it, it’s a good value when you consider you’re getting essentially two bloody marys and a meal. If this is too much bloody mary, you can also get a standard size and create your own garnish selection via their bloody mary cart.

To be honest, we were pretty stuffed after wrestling this bloody. That didn’t stop us from seeing what the rest of Sunda’s brunch menu had to offer.

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Brunch is where “east meets west,” with offerings that range from Asian-inspired brunch dishes to sushi to dim sum. We tried the braised pork belly on rice patty, which is an Asian spin on an egg benedict. The pork was incredibly tender, smoky and savory, and the crispy rice was a surprisingly amazing alternative to traditional English muffin.

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Sunda makes for the perfect spot for the group that likes to order and try a bit of everything. The classic crispy rice with spicy tuna and seared wagyu tartare were standouts that both came with a spicy jalapeno kick that’s enhanced with the crunch of the rice.

Come for the bloody, stay for the Sunda’s brunch. Don’t let the over-the-top garnish fool you, the Sumo Mary is the real deal. It’s a bloody mary we could drink again and again. And hope to.

Sumo Mary: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4.5

Spicy: 4

Treats: 5

Creativity: 4.5

Overall: 4.5

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Ask a Bloody Expert: Chef Jess Deguzman of Sunda

Next in the series, we sit down to chat with Chef Jess Deguzman, executive chef at Sunda. We met Chef Jess a few weeks ago on Windy City Live! and were blown away by his tasty, delightfully outlandish creation, the Sumo Mary, which also topped our Thrillist list for Chicago’s most ridiculous(ly awesome) bloody marys. Grab a seat and read how this soon-to-be-legendary brunch cocktail was born.

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How long have you been a chef at Sunda?

I’ve been the executive chef here for about two years. I started out as an executive sushi chef here, which was about five years ago. Proved I had what it takes and moved my way up through the ranks here.

Where did you work before here?

I worked at a few other places. I worked at Coast on Damen. The chef is a good friend of mine. I helped him open his other restaurant, South Coast. I had my own place a while back too. I was just having fun. I had the best schedule, working Monday through Friday and I was very comfortable. Then I came here. It all changed but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.   

You created the Sumo Mary. Now, have you created other bloody marys?

Bloody marys are something I personally love to drink, and wherever I go, I’ll get one. It all started when I’d go to other places, and they have a different selection of stuff. For me, I like spicy. People just started getting crazy with their bloody marys. Almost ridiculous with what they were doing. So, I was just like, “Why not just make one and add bits and pieces of the menu with it?” So that’s what happened.

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Did you pull your inspiration from elsewhere?

It was just from within the restaurant because we have so much to offer here. There are so many types of cuisines. I knew it was going to be completely original. It’s crazy how it kind of took off. I was pleasantly surprised. The mix itself is very unique, too… There’s a lot of texture in the actual drink because we’re blending all these flavors together. Some of the things in there like Nước chấm, a Vietnamese style dipping sauce. It’s usually sweet, garlicky and spicy, so there are a lot of elements to it. We use our garlic vinaigrette, which is another dipping sauce for one of our dishes. Yuzu, which is a Japanese citrus fruit, is very unique. They combine it with pepper to make it a little spicy. It’s very pungent, so a little bit goes a long way. That’s what gives it a unique flavor. So looking at how we were doing our bloody mary, I was just like “Let’s do something else.” We have our bloody mary cart, but we just wanted to do something different.

What have been people’s responses to the Sumo Mary?

They’re literally wowed. Everyone is getting crazy with their bloody marys. That’s fine, but ours is about doing something different and not being too serious about it.

How often does it get ordered on the weekends?

That week I was on Windy City Live, there were like 30 of them ordered. It was crazy.

Has anyone ever ordered more than one?

[Laughing] I don’t think so. I once saw a table that ordered six, but everyone had their own.

Do you have any plans for a 2.0 version of Sumo Mary?

Definitely. One thing about me and this restaurant is that, I involve my staff and sous chefs just as much. I give them the ability to create their own stuff. That’s what they enjoy about it. Maybe I’d have them create a different one for each season.

We drink a lot of bloody marys, so it’s getting harder to find ones that actually stands out. This one certainly does.

The mix is a combination of sweet and spicy. You got the cilantro, cucumber and and other things that make it so different.

So, what exactly is in that garnish?

The sushi purists are going to hate me, but I put a sushi roll on top. Below that is a Chinese duck bao bun, a piece of thick braised pork belly, tochino, which is a Filipino sausage put in a grilled cheese sandwich. Then comes all the side items, oshinko a Japanese pickled radish, roasted potatoes, shishito peppers, a Filipino egg roll loompya, Chinese broccoli and bacon. I think it’s great because it’s something that can be evolved.

How do people usually approach it? Do they treat it as a brunch and a drink? Or do they usually order a meal with it?

Sometimes,  people share it and they order other things too. It’s so much that you might not order anything else.

Bin Cafe used to have one. But there aren’t many restaurants doing Asian-inspired bloody marys.

Maybe they will be soon! But then there are the people that say, “You’re just goofing around.” Exactly yes. I’m not going to say no.

When you’re not working, what are you drinking?

I love a dirty martini. It’s something my wife and I both drink. In the industry, we all drink a lot of Jameson. Here in Chicago, everyone seems to love it.

What other bloody marys in the city do you like?

I like Rockit. And I used to go to Twisted Spoke a lot. I really stick to the dirty martinis.

Check out Chef Jess’ artistic bloody mary creation and amazing Asian-inspired cuisine at Sunda, 110 W Illinois St, Chicago. 

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