Yesterday I treated myself to a mid-week, lunch time Bloody Mary. That right there screams decadence, doesn’t it? Bloody Mary’s are of course associated with brunch and associated with curing hangovers. Or, in my case, the drink signifies me showing off in front of the folks in the restaurant on their lunch hour.
My lunch was at Maplewood, a new-ish spot downtown where they’ve upscaled the order-at-the-counter concept.* I sat at the bar where I had two choices for my Bloody Mary, red and green. Just the option of a green “Bloody Mary” seemed wrong. More in one paragraph.
I ordered the traditional red Bloody Mary. The drink’s spice is horseradish and the garnish is a piece of celery in the glass, and a pick with a cornichon, an olive, a chunk of salami, and a small sweet pepper stuffed with blue cheese and a bit of spinach (I think) on top of the glass. That’s one of the better garnishes you’ll ever see on a Bloody Mary. Once, I got a piece of cocktail shrimp as a garnish which is still my favorite. But any time I get more than just one olive on a toothpick, I feel like the drink becomes a healthy snack.
I did not get the green “Bloody Mary”because my brain knows bloody = red, not green. Intellectually, the drink doesn’t cut it. The bartender let me taste the tomatillo-based drink which tasted like it came from their juice bar. If they called it Cleanse Bloody Mary, I would start drinking it after workouts. I assume it’s garnished with a skewer of kale.
My favorite Bloody Mary downtown is at Nicholson’s. It has a nice spicy flavor and doesn’t feel soupy. The garnish is simple and it comes with a snit. The snit is the beer chaser that comes with Bloody Mary’s commonly in the upper Midwest (Wisconsin’s contribution to a better brunch) and occasionally in Cincinnati. The beer chaser is usually a 3 oz glass of beer meant to counteract the heaviness of the Bloody Mary. Most bars give you the cheapest on draft beer they have, but at Nicholson’s, if you ask, you can chase with a Guinness.
All I know is when I order one drink, and a second glass of additional alcohol comes with it, I feel like I’ve reached a level of bar participation mastery.
*The bulk of the Maplewood is set up so you grab a menu at the door, order at the counter, take your number to your table where your food will be delivered. A fleet of servers pay attention to your needs so you still have a dining experience (of delicious food) without a dedicated waitperson. Prices are the same as a “good” restaurant because you get real food on real plate. Ordering is the same as a sandwich shop.