Category Archives: Cocktails

Harissa Bloody Mary, avec

Sharing is caring when it comes to food and friends. Maybe not when it comes to bloody marys.

We’ve been wanting to check out the Sunday brunch at avec for, well, as long as it’s been around. No Paul Kahan concept has let us down yet.

Let’s start with the vibe. Get ready to get cozy. If you’ve been to avec, you know the concept is communal, and by nature, easy to get social and share small plates with your neighbors.

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The one thing we wouldn’t share: our Harissa Bloody Marys. Our first thought: What’s going on here? It’s different. We liked the flavor but couldn’t quite our taste buds on what was included. Sophisticated was a word that was used. The harissa (which is actually a hot chili paste made of roasted red pepper, serrano and other spices) gave this bloody a smoky and spicy side that was perfectly mellowed and balanced by the Belgian beer Atomium Premier Grand Cru. We were told the beer back rotates out, but the lemon saison we had served as the perfect complement.

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Now the food. You will not be disappointed. All three of the dishes we ordered were incredible, particularly the breakfast pizza. This wood fired work of art comes topped with pancetta, sunnyside eggs, roasted potatoes and onions and peppers. It’s savory and delicious.

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Next up, we ordered the fried chicken wings with Moroccan pancake. It was the perfect mashup of textures and flavors between the crispy chicken, savory pancake, smoky harissa and slightly sweet honey butter. We would eat that over and over again.

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Also eaten and not pictured were the chorizo-stuffed mejool dates as we’re usually a sucker for anything date-related (food, that is). It was delicious and not to mention, large and in charge for a small plate, but not as standout as the other two dishes. To round it all out, we tried these tasty nutter butter treats. An amazing way to end an amazing meal.

If you want to cozy up for brunch and try a one-of-a-kind bloody, don’t hesitate to give avec’s brunch a try.

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

Taste:        3.5

Spicy:      3.25

Treats:       3.25

Creativity: 4

Overall:      3.5

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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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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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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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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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