Bloody Mary, Frasca

We would be lying if we said Frasca in Roscoe Village was our first choice.

What actually happened was, we cabbed and bused it up to endgrain a while back (we’re a bit behind in more ways than one), only to find out it had been shuttered. We’ll never know the magic that is a bloody mary with a cheesy biscuit garnish. Maybe one day Red Lobster will create its own?

But Frasca’s brunch and bloody aren’t second best by any means. This wine and pizza bar brings its Italian genius to brunch.

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Do you love the bloody at Dunlay’s on Clark or Dunlay’s on the Square? How about Smoke Daddy? Chances are, you’ll love this one, too. The 4 Star Restaurant Group owns these joints and uses Smoke Daddy’s tasty Smokin Mary Mix for all their bloodies. The result? A well-balanced spicy bloody mary that never lets you down (just don’t order it with cucumber vodka. Trust us). Each restaurant’s bloody varies by garnish. At Frasca, you get a deconstructed caprese salad with cherry tomato, basil, mozzarella ball, plus prosciutto and olive. Add a piece of bacon for one buck extra, if you dare.

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Pizza for breakfast? OK! The Breakfast Pizza comes topped with bacon, sausage, cheese and three eggs over easy. Savory and rich, and the crust is perfectly chewy yet crisp. We also had the Italian Farmhouse Breakfast, which is two eggs baked in a crock with speck and tomato sauce which is lapped up and eaten on crusty bread. Why is it that tomato sauce makes everything better?

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While we weren’t planning to dine at Frasca, we certainly we’re disappointed. Solid bloody mary. Humble Italian food at its best.

Frasca Bloody Mary:  Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:        3.25

Spicy:      3

Treats:       3.25

Creativity: 3

Overall:      3.125

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Bloody Samurai, Kingsbury Street Cafe

We hope 2015 is fantastically in full swing for everyone.

While we are both are officially back to five-day work weeks, we reminisce about more leisurely days when we could brunch on a Thursday. That’s right, we started this fine year off with a bloody mary in hand at Kingsbury Street Cafe

Nestled in the western border of Lincoln Park, interestingly enough across the street from the bougie Whole Foods and next door to a topless dancing establishment, Kingsbury Street Cafe is modern, airy and filled with natural lighting (not dissimilar to Summer House Santa Monica). The spring-like ambiance and vicarious views of the meringues were encouraging to say the least.

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Back to the business at hand: our first bloody mary of the year. There are several options on the menu in the way of tomatoey brunch cocktails, Bloody Mary, Bloody Maria, Bloody Lawrence and the Bloody Samurai. Excuse me, Bloody Samurai? A bloody made with sake instead of tried-and-true friends vodka or tequila.

We haven’t sampled many Asian-inspired bloody marys outside of Sunda, so we both had to give it a try. The mix itself was incredibly fresh, but truthfully, the sake was overpowering. The dryness of the wine didn’t leave room for any other flavors to shine.

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Can we get a do-over? Regrets for attempting to branch out because everyone seems to like this one. We’ll give it another try with a more standard liquor next time. Not all was lost. There were several cubes of cheese in the garnish.

Well, good luck deciding what entree to order. Everything on the menu sounded incredible, and it didn’t help that we were starving. The brunch fare is quite the showstopper.

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We settled on splitting the Salmon Hash with Poached Eggs and the Chilaquiles with Chorizo (surprise). The Salmon Hash was an incredibly savory mix of textures and flavors with salmon, peppers, leeks, tater totes, poached eggs and sour cream. Slightly rich, but unreal. We have a chilaquiles addiction, we know. This fix gave us just the rush we needed.

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It’s hard to rate this one objectively. It wasn’t the best, but we don’t blame the mix or the bartender. It was the misguided use (and ordering) of sake. We’ll be back to give this one another shot.

Bloody Samurai:  Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:        2.5

Spicy:      3

Treats:       3.5

Creativity: 3

Overall:      3

 

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Best Bloody Marys We Drank in 2014

2014 was a bloody good year indeed.

We brunched and imbibed at some of the city’s best bloody mary spots. Not to mention the fact that we were on Windy City Live (!!), attended two delicious bloody mary contests and partnered with Thrillist to find Chicago’s most ridiculous bloody marys and name the best bloody marys by Chicago neighborhood. This was perhaps our bloody best year yet.

Looking back at the delicious bloody marys we enjoyed, the struggle is real to pick our favorites. There are so many solid ones to pick from. However, three distinctly stood out to us.

3. Big Jones

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This Andersonville spot brings a taste of the Big Easy to Chicago. And this includes their signature bloody mary, which we loved for its simplicity and flavor. This bloody mary a standout, thanks to its quality ingredients that include tomato juice (duh), lemon juice, Crystal hot sauce, housemade worcestershire and fresh horseradish. If this wasn’t reason enough to check out Big Jones, their complimentary beignets are. Read original post here.

2. Bub City

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We learned about the deliciousness of Bub City at Chicago’s First Bloody Mary Competition and had to check it out for ourselves. Usually, bloody mary bars can be overwhelming. Not here. After ordering, you take your token to the bar, hand it to the bartender and begin by picking your rimmer and your poison (your choice of vodka, rye, bourbon and tequila). Then, choose your mix (we reco the house mix, which you can also buy) and round out with garnishes and a High Life pony.

While you pick the variations, this bloody mary proves to be incredible. It’s smoky and spicy, mostly in part to BBQ spices and cumin. Plus, we adore the garnishes bar, in particular the pimento-cheese-stuffed olives, roasted green peppers and shrimp. Original post here.

1. Sunda

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When bloody marys have over-the-top garnishes, we don’t usually buy the hype. Sure, Sumo Mary topped our Thrillist list for most ridiculous bloody mary, but not for nothing. The flavor of the drink itself is pretty amazing. Chef Jess, its creator, let us in on the secret. In addition to cucumber and cilantro, this giant bloody includes a Vietnamese dipping sauce, garlic vinaigrette and yuzu, a Japanese fruit. Overall, it’s distinct, refreshingly flavorful and unmistakably Asian. Different from any other bloody mary we’ve ever had.

But the topic of all conversation: the meal on top. This garnish isn’t for the faint of heart, including: a baked Alaska crab roll, Chinese duck bao bun, piece of thick braised pork belly and grilled cheese with tochino (Filipino sausage), oshinko (Japanese pickled radish), roasted potatoes, shishito peppers, loompya (Filipino egg roll), Chinese broccoli and four piece of bacon. And at 64 oz. and $40, this bloody mary is made for sharing. Original post here.

Honorable mentions

2014 was filled with great bloody marys, and several deserve a shout out. Two notable honorable mentions include Dusek’s in Pilsen and Dove’s Luncheonette in Wicker Park. We love Dusek’s Beer & Board Bloody Mary because it’s insanely well balanced and heavy on the horseradish. It’s the kind of bloody mary we want to drink every weekend. And new to the scene this fall, Dove’s Luncheonette’s bloody mary is smoky, spicy and flavorful, much like the restaurant’s Mexican-inspired fare. Check it out and thank us.

Thanks for drinking along with us in 2014! Wishing you all a great New Year’s and a spectacular 2015 ahead. Cheers!

xoxo, Amber and Elaine

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Dove’s Bloody Mary, Dove’s Lunchonette

Walk into Dove’s Luncheonette and you might forget what decade you’re in.

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Grab a seat at the counter and enjoy the timeless feel made possible by the wood paneling, 60s soul music and brown Hull mugs. It’s the kind of joint your grandpa would have patroned in his hay. If it existed then. It’s a diner that gives an unfussy vibe in the best way possible.

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Now for the bloody mary. You’ll have to excuse the hyperbole, but this is one of the best we’ve had in a while. It’s smoky and spicy, thanks to the housemade “grandpa mix,” a term coined by our server. This bloody is mixed with CH Vodka and finished with smoked black pepper, celery and root bitters and a simple lemon, lime and celery garnish.

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Given its neighbor and sister restaurant Big Star, it’s not surprising that the cuisine is Mexican inspired or that it’s incredibly delicious. Plus, you can put an egg on it, any of it, for a mere $1.

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Everything was amazing, but the standouts were the red chile enchiladas and smoked brisket taco norteno. The enchiladas’ guajillo-ancho chile sauce was incredibly flavorful and spicy. The smoked brisket was tender, well seasoned and mixed with an interesting combination of textures and flavors which include avocado and chicharones.

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Pro tip: Go early for brunch. This place is delicious and in Wicker Park, so it’s better to coast in before the cool kids get out of bed. Best get there as close to 9am when the diner opens.

Dove’s Bloody Mary: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4

Spicy: 4

Treats: 3

Creativity: 4

Overall: 3.75

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Bristol Bloody Mary, The Bristol

Girls who also like to eat and drink bloodies. That’s basically our criteria for lady friends.

Our trip to The Bristol a little while back was result of  “Brunch Bunch,” a bi-monthly standing brunch date with pals who are former coworkers. If you recall, the two ladies of this blog were coworkers, not once, but twice.

While we often sort through crazy remixes and over-the-top skewers of meats, cheese and pickled anything, it’s often nice to encounter a bloody mary that doesn’t have to try too hard.

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You can taste the handcrafted care that goes into the Bristol Bloody Mary. It’s spicy, thick and tomatoe-y (yeah, we made that a word), and finishes with a citrus tanginess. And for a spot that’s known for meats, the garnish is a simply good skewer of cheese, salami and olive. It’s the kind of bloody that’s not a showstopper but never underwhelms.

Get ready for a shocker: we ordered chilaquiles. Speaking of stealing the show, take notice of the tender, savory braised pork. Simple flavors work well together here with the fried egg, lime and cilantro. And a not a hot mess of soggy tortilla chips.

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The other lady of this duo had the slightly healthier polenta with mushrooms and brussels sprouts. It was tasty, but in all honesty, there was so many regrets for not ordering the chilaquiles.

Moral of the story: thumbs up for this solid Bucktown bloody mary. Until next time, friends.

Bristol Bloody Mary, The Bristol: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 3.25

Spicy: 3.5

Treats: 3.25

Creativity: 3

Overall: 3.25

 

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Three Aces’ Bloody Mary, Three Aces

If you live here, we don’t need to tell you that summer in Chicago is fleeting.

Let’s be honest to ourselves, patio days are numbered. We’re sorry, but someone had to say it.

When it comes to ambiance and drink selection, there’s maybe no better patio than Three Aces in Little Italy. We’ve been here a few times and have actually never eaten inside. Because why would we? It’s the patio where you just want to hunker down for the afternoon. Which is sort of what we did a few weeks ago at brunch when the playlist was really killing it with 90s jams.

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ThreeAces_081014_Closeup_v01Three Aces is like your favorite dive bar. But actually nice. Rock ‘n roll murals meet flower planters outside. Dark but leathery inside. “The Italian countryside meets the American countryside…in Keith Richards’ basement bar.” Yep, pretty apt.

To be honest, the Three Aces’ bloody mary is pretty damn good, though it’s not earth shatteringly unique. Call it classic, if you will. A strong tomato flavor offset with horseradish and a bacon-chile rim. And the pickled veggies sort of make it feel healthy. Another thing we like about this bloody is that you get a sidecar of good, not necessarily cheap, beer. It switches out regularly, but was Allagash the day we visited. No one here is complaining.

ThreeAces_081014_Popcorn_v01We plan on bringing a bigger purse next time so we can steal one of the coffee mugs. Just kidding (kind of). So we tried all types of food, starting with Parmesan popcorn with Sriracha dipping sauce.
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. That’s breakfast poutine. Fries with sausage gravy, bacon, fried egg and Sriracha. Order this, but prepare yourself for a food coma. The farm egg sandwich and summer vegetable hash were also tasty and uber filling.

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Well, go ahead and fit in one more patio brunch. We beg of you. To quote that show that one of us doesn’t watch but everyone else in the world does, “Winter is coming.” Cheers, friends.

Three Aces’ Bloody Mary, Three Aces: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 3.5

Spicy: 3.5

Treats: 3.5

Creativity: 3.5

Overall: 3.5

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Giveaway! Chicago’s Bloody Mary Competition 2

We came. We drank. We conquered.

If you couldn’t tell by our post, the inaugural Chicago’s Bloody Mary Competition  in June was a huge success. And a killer good time.

Jam Productions is at it again for part deux. September 14th at Park West from 11am-2pm.

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For the latest round of competition, Chicago’s neighborhoods and cuisines are going head to head. Taste local 3 oz. samples with vodka care of Prairie Organic Vodka. And what would a bloody be without a Miller High Life pony, the official sidecar of Chicago’s Bloody Mary Competition.

As you sip and help decide the bloody winner, sample meat and cheese skewers from Whole Foods and snack on tasty foods from Ugly Mug Cafe, Tipsycake Cupcakes and Garrett’s Popcorn. Did we mention there will be giveaways?

We’re stoked to check out this stellar line-up:

  • Dusek’s
  • The Fifty/50
  • Kaiser Tiger
  • The Dawson
  • Schubas/Harmony Grill
  • Red Door
  • Lone Wolf
  • Porkchop
  • The Chicago Diner
  • Bow and Stern
  • Moxee Restaurant
  • Endgrain
  • Knife and Tine

Who will topple reigning champ, Fat Cat? Guess you’ll have to go and drink bloodies to find out for yourself. Consider this your bloody mary warm-up to Sunday’s Riot Fest line-up. Tickets are still available here for purchase.

Your chance to win two free tickets!

What’s better than attending Chicago’s best Sunday hangover cure? Attending it for free. We’re giving one lucky reader a chance to win two free tickets to Chicago’s Bloody Mary Competition 2.

Doing any of the following will get you one entry each:

1. Tell us your favorite bloody in the lineup in our comments section below.

2. Like Chicago’s Bloody Mary Competition on Facebook and tell us you did so in the comments below.

3. Tweet or Facebook us your favorite bloody mary spot using hashtags #mybloodyfunday.

4. Share or retweet this post via Twitter or Facebook with hashtags #mybloodyfunday and #bloodybest.

Updated: Enter by 5pm, Sunday, September 7. Winners will be chosen at random with Random.org. Open to people 21 years and older in the contiguous U. S. only.

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Bloody Mary Bar, Bub City

We’d heard about Bub City’s brunch from several food lovers. And after sampling Bub’s bloody at the Chicago’s Bloody Mary Competition, we had no choice by to give it a try.

To be honest, we expected that walking into Bub City would be like walking onto the set of Coyote Ugly (or the cheesy bar that used to be in River North. Anyone?). Sure it is a Nashville-themed country bar, but the kitsch was kept to a tasteful level.

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Bub City does a mean bloody mary bar. And while bloody mary bars can be crazy overwhelming, Bub City keeps it simple, even giving you directions along the way.

First, start with the rim and the booze. With three rimmers to pick from, we decided the Bub Rim made the most sense. It’s BBQ place, so the rubs must be good, right? You can choose from vodka, tequila, rye or bourbon, so one of us picked rye while the other went with tequila.

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With your booze chosen, next you do as the sign says, “Fill ‘er up.” There are a few mixes from which to choose, but we opted for Bub’s house mix. When in Bub.

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Finally, it’s time to dress up your bloody mary. There’s a plethora of spices and sauces you can add, and the garnishes are incredible. We love the roasted peppers, shrimp, pimento cheese-stuffed olives and mini grilled cheeses. Pro tip: be sure to grab a saltine with pimento cheese and sausage at the end of the bar.

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Finally, grab a pony or two of High Life and enjoy. We really like this one, you guys. Smoky, flavorful and all around solid. We believe the word that came up was “legit.” What makes this one stand out are the smokiness of the house mix (which comes in part from the BBQ rub spices) and the taste of cumin.

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We loved the food, too. Particularly the Green Chili Scrambler, which is kind of like a stew meets chilaquiles. In a really good way. It’s flavorful thanks to the green chili, cilantro and savory pork carnitas and lacks the sogginess factor of chilaquiles. Also, the Fried Chicken and Waffle. As Elaine says, “Wut.” Both perfectly crispy, which can be changed with the bacon-jalapeno honey or country-style gravy. We can’t wait to go back for the BBQ.

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We normally don’t review bloody mary bars since it’s usually your concoction versus the bartender’s. However, this one was so legit, we’re rating this on the assumption that you go with the standard Bub City flavors and don’t stray too much. Because you don’t need to :)

Bloody Mary Bar, Bub City: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4

Spicy: 4

Treats: 4.5

Creativity: 4.5

Overall: 4.25

 

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Board & Beer Bloody, Dusek’s

Call it our summer vacation. Call it flakiness. Whichever. With both of us having new busy jobs, trips out of town, etc., turns out we’re just not as disciplined as some of our blogger cohorts in keeping up.

But hopefully that will change.

Since we haven’t chatted much lately, we hope you’ll excuse us as we’re REAL bold for a minute: Dusek’s in Pilsen has become one of our favorite new brunch spots.

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Dusek’s decor is like that apartment you’ve always wanted to live in. Vintage details intermingle with sleek, modern furnishings. And we can help but love the place settings. It’s a mismatch of plates, silverware and glasses that might have come together by pooling all of our grandmas’ collections together. We mean that in a good way.

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This bloody rocks. It’s the kind of great tasting bloody mary that’s so well balanced that you can’t really pinpoint the ingredients. Horseradish does make a big play in this one, and we can’t resist a bloody that comes with a High Life pony.

Beermosas are phenomenal as well. They’re not your average Belgian beer with a splash of orange juice. They’re full-on premium cocktails. Try the Apple Beermosa that tastes like drinking a refreshing granny smith apple or the Ginger Beermosa that’s basically a beer-based Dark and Stormy.

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The food is incredible as well. First off, you can have oysters. Second, the egg dishes are rich and savory without being too over the top. Standouts we enjoyed were the BBQ Shrimp and Grits and the 3 Ham Eggs Benedict on House Sourdough. If you’re craving a burger, the Juicy Lucy is pretty great.

You might be interested to know that its sister restaurant Punch House below Dusek’s apparently serves delicious punch on tap. We haven’t been there, but we’re dying to.

Board & Beer Bloody , Dusek’s: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4

Spicy: 4

Treats: 3.5

Creativity: 3.5

Overall: 3.75

 

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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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