Tag Archives: garnish

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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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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Miami meets Midwest: Our signature bloodies

We spend a lot of time talking about bloody marys and our fair city, Chicago. You get it, we love them. We wax poetic about food and libations, but reveal little about ourselves. Somewhat on purpose.

For example, you may or may not know Elaine hails from Miami. Her family is from Cuba, and she speaks Spanish fluently. She’s also a brillz designer who can rock lipstick better than 99% of ladies (and gents) out there. And Amber? A Hoosier girl with a signature bob who’s tiny but thinks she’s fierce. Often seen shoulder dancing. Wherever. Is it weird we’re talking about ourselves in third person? Sure, but so are we.

In the spirit of sharing, we thought it’d be fun to create bloody marys that reflect ourselves and our roots. Without further ado…

Cuban Mary by Elaine

The Cuban Mary is made with flavors used in traditional Cuban cooking. Contrary to popular belief, Cuban food is not spicy. Common ingredients include garlic, cumin and Sazon Goya on everything. I used Garlic Chili Cholula to infuse garlic flavor while still bringing a little heat. I sprinkled in half packet of Sazon Goya with cilantro to season it. Lime V8 gives it a unique base, reminiscent of  lime juice squeezed over Cuban dishes.

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The garnish represents a Cuban sandwich by using swiss cheese, pork, ham and bread and butter pickles. I left out the mustard and Cuban bread, but I’m sure you understand.

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Cuban Mary

Serves one

7 oz. Lime V8

2 oz. Stoli vodka

1 oz. Garlic Lime Cholula

1/2 packet Sazon Goya

Lime

Garlic salt

Midwest Mary by Amber 

What’s funny is that I grew up hating tomatoes. My grandparents grew red, yellow, green tomatoes in their garden, and my family ate them in every meal. I’d only eat them in spaghetti sauce or ketchup. Times have changed. To represent southern Indiana, Midwest Mary was created to taste down-to-earth, honest and homegrown, as if from a garden. I picked flavors like horseradish, pickle juice, lemon juice and added a kick with hot sauce and A1.

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The garnish was inspired by meat and cheese dishes I grew up loving. Also, the beer back is charmingly Midwestern. I picked Upland Helios Pale Ale, a beer brewed in Bloomington, Indiana, home of my alma mater, Indiana University. Best enjoyed in a Nick’s English Hut glass.

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Midwest Mary,

Serves one

7 oz. V8

2 oz. Stoli vodka

1/2 tsp. hot sauce

4 pours Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp. A1 sauce

1/2 tsp. horseradish

1 tsp. dill pickle juice

lemon juice

fresh cracked pepper

We hope you enjoy our signature bloody marys! Please let us know what you think. While we’re sharing, be sure to check out the fabulous bloody mary by Cait from Pretty and Fun. We won’t give too much away, but it includes a delicious Stoli bloody concoction and a gorgeous bar setup.

Cheers, everyone!

This post was sponsored by Stoli. Opinions and photography are our own. Join Stoli in their coast-to-coast search for your favorite local flavors by following #SearchForMary. 

STOLICHNAYA® Premium Vodka and Flavored Premium Vodkas. 37.5%-40% Alc/Vol. (75-80 proof). Distilled from Russian Grain. Stoli Group USA, LLC, New York, NY ©2014 Spirits International, B.V.

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The Texan, Central Standard

Everything is bigger in Texas. But of course, this is Chicago.

Admittedly, we weren’t itching to try The Texan at Central Standard. Out of principle. It seems too many places are creating crazy concoctions and garnishes when, for us, all it takes is a simple, natural tasting bloody to hit the mark. Alas, our curiosity got the best of us.

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We were pleasantly surprised. The bloody was really well seasoned. Briny, smoky and just the right amount of spice. And the taste was super FRESH. Whatever Central Standard is doing, they’re doing it and doing it well. (see what we did there?)

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Check that garnish. Let us sum it up for you: Bison slider. Could it have been warmer? Yes. But the cheddar and BBQ combo won us over. See also: grilled shrimp, asparagus, and a skewer of cheese and charcuterie.

Is it worth $18? Maybe. If you consider $10 is the going rate for a bloody and you get an appetizer and a Miller High Life pony with this one. We were just as happy with The Higher Standard (below) which is the same, minus the slider, shrimp and High Life.

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One of us ordered the Skinny Benny. It was good but probably too skinny. The homemade hot sauce and home fries were legit but the rest of the dish didn’t taste cohesive.

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On the other hand, Chicks in a Blanket more than made up for it in both calories and taste. Who knew that chicken tenders and pancakes could have a much tastier texture than chicken and waffles? Plus, the side of fruit makes you feel skinny again. Win all around.

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It’s been a bit of a hiatus, but we’re glad to be back. After all, it’s the holidays, prime eating and imbibing season. Cheers.

The Texan, Central Standard: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4

Spice: 3.5

Treats: 4

Creativity: 3.5

Overall: 3.75

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Bloody Mary, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate

Call us crazy. It’s not like it’d be the first time. Who goes to Mindy’s Hot Chocolate in Bucktown and NOT order a hot chocolate?

It’s like going to In ‘N Out without ordering a burger. Or buying a dress from the Levi’s Store.

Well, we didn’t. We’re more savory than sweet anyway. Close second: watching a Chicago food tour group slurp down theirs. Less calories.

We did order a frenzy of other good food and drinks. And of course, our favorite brunch beverage. Duh, bloody mary.

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The menu wasn’t super revelatory about what’s in the house bloody. Only that it’s “Andy’s handcrafted bloody mary mix.” We imagine the staples are included: horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. It was slightly watery, but still quite above average. You can taste the handcrafted part—the ingredients and garnishes were discerningly fresh. And speaking of garnishes, the blue-cheese stuffed olive was money. Cash money.

Now the food. Because we adore brunch fare with a Mexican flair, we had to try Angel’s Brunch Stew. It was like a lighter version of chilaquiles with a tomato broth, lightly scrambled farm egg and chiles, topped with avocados and crunchy tortilla strips. Slightly spicy and totally savory. It was filling without feeling heavy.

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The hash was made with pork belly, locally sourced broccoli, creme fraiche, gruyere and a perfectly poached egg. You’d think this be superbly rich or heavy, but the lightness of poached egg and veggies create nicely balanced flavors and textures.

We already got it out the way that we didn’t order hot chocolate. HOWEVER, we did order dessert in the form of cookies and more brunch cocktails. Cookies, which didn’t even last long enough to be photographed. Notice the crumbs? Let’s just say they were delicious and leave it at that. The bellini of the day was Concord Grape, which tasted like an adult version of Welch’s grape juice. No one here is complaining.

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We always coordinate our drinks to match our tops. Like that?

Anyway, get thee to Hot Chocolate for a stand-up bloody mary and delightfully balanced, locally sourced brunch. Learn from our mistakes and get a damn hot chocolate, will you?

Bloody Mary, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 3.5

Spice: 3

Treats: 3.5

Creativity: 2.5

Overall: 3.125

Restaurant Information


* Restaurant Name
Mindy’s HotChocolate
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
West Town
* Street Address
1747 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647
* Phone
(773) 489-1747
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Highwood’s Bloody Mary Festival: A Bloody Wonderful Time

This week, we’re thrilled to have our first guest blogger, a girl after our own bloody-mary loving hearts, Nicole from Not Before My Tea. Grab a straw and enjoy her tasty review of the Highwood Bloody Mary Festival!

Hello my fellow Bloody Mary activists! I’m Nicole, blogger and fellow Chicagoan over at Not Before my Tea, where I blog about running, fashion, and life in Chicago. The only thing I love more than a cup of tea is a bloody mary at brunch (or anytime, really!).

Like the Marys here at Bloody Best, I’ve made it my personal mission to find the best bloody mary around. This pursuit has led me all over Chicago and recently took me all the way to Highwood, IL, for the Fourth Annual Bloody Mary Festival. This two-day event brings vendors from all over the Midwest to duel it out for the title of “Best Bloody Mary.”

Can you think of anything more spectacular than a group of bloody mary connoisseurs congregated for the sole purpose of perfecting the already faultless brunch staple? I couldn’t either! And because the Marys at Bloody Best couldn’t be there to witness the spectacle, they’ve let me report back on what I saw and tasted.

Short report: It was A-mazing. Perhaps the most ingenious human scheme since the invention of the wheel.

Long report: I saw some things at the festival that I had never seen before in all of my years of bloody mary escapades. This included some pretty outrageous garnishes, such as pepperoni pizza from the Savanna House in Wadsworth.

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I have a small alcohol tolerance (and even smaller budget), so I couldn’t try drinks from all vendors. In the name of science, I strategized my samplings to include the most likely to “wow.”

The first bloody I tried was last year’s “People’s Choice” winner, Toadstool Pub. I figured that while following the crowd off bridges is a general “no,” bloodies were a different story.

My first impression was that the Toadstool Pub and the people who chose it knew their Marys. The bloody’s garnish alone straddled the line between “small snack” and “budget breakfast.”  The drink was topped with cheddar and pepper jack cheese cubes, summer sausage, green olives, bacon, and pepperoncini.

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It’s hard to make a bad piece of bacon, but on a scale from McDonald’s dollar menu to Outback, this bacon was a ribeye. It was a maple-y, crispy slice of heaven. Unfortunately, that was this bloody’s shining moment. The drink itself was a bit watery and average at best. It seemed to be trying too hard to be refreshing, instead of embracing its true nature: a hearty brunch staple.

Taste: 2

Spice: 2

Treats: 4.5

Creativity: 3.5

Overall: 3

My next choice was based solely on the most appealing garnish. That led me to the Tap House, which lured me in with a skewer with bacon-wrapped brat and cheese.

Because it only boasted a second-place trophy from last year, my expectations weren’t too high. The drink, however, beat the odds and earned a spot above the former People’s Choice winner. The garnish was just as delicious as it looked, but the drink itself took center stage: it was thick with the right amount of spices, and a hint of something that was pleasantly reminiscent of my hometown favorite, Maryland crab soup.

Taste: 4

Spice: 3

Treats: 4

Creativity: 3

Overall: 3.5

For my last full-sized bloody at the festival, I had to go with the three time “Judge’s Choice” champion, Gabe’s Backstage Lounge (pictured above). I figured that if you can’t trust people who can legitimately include “Bloody Mary authority” on their resumes, you can’t trust anyone.

In my opinion, the only reason that Gabe’s hadn’t won over the people last year was its presentation. At Gabe’s tent, one would think that the only garnish available was an assortment of pickled vegetables (and when you’re three bloodies in, who’s going to pick carrots over bacon?). It wasn’t until I bought the drink that they pulled out the rest of the garnish from the cooler, which included ham, cheese, shrimp, bacon, and olives.

I had to hand it to the judges: they knew their Marys. Gabe’s bloody was definitely the best drink of the three, and might have been the best overall had it included a brat.

Taste: 4.5

Spice: 4

Treats: 3

Creativity: 3

Overall: 3.625

As the breeze got chillier and my vision got blurrier, we decided to head over to a local bar, the Silver Dollar Tavern, to watch the Bears game and wait for our train.  I figured that “one more bloody mary” is never a bad decision, so I ordered my fourth one of the day.

It turned out to be the best drink. (And even though most things seem good after three large cocktails, I can identify a truly great bloody even in my most inebriated state.)  Although it came straight with no frilly garnishes, the rich juice and the spices that the bartender added by hand, right in front of me, were spot on. 

Taste: 5

Spice: 5

Treats: 0

Creativity: 2

Overall: 3

The festival overall was worth every second of agonizing anticipation and public transportation. Not only did it offer samplings of some of the truly best bloodies I’ve had, it had something for those who were only there to accompany their nuts-o significant others. My boyfriend, a taco connoisseur, was entirely satisfied with what the Mexican food truck had to offer. And with Farmers’ Market food, live entertainment, and a petting zoo, even the Grinch would have had a hard time not having fun.

I’m so glad that the bloody experts here at Bloody Best let me share my thoughts with you lovely readers.  If you enjoyed this little slice of Nicole, head over to my blog for a bigger portion.  As for now, keep calm and brunch on, my friends!

Hope you have a bloody brilliant day!

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Morning After Mary, The Savoy

…And it’s like being in a pirate ship.”

Along with news that they had a bloody mary topped with an oyster, these were the words that sold us on reviewing The Savoy.

Pirate ship isn’t exactly the scene, but The Savoy IS a raw bar meets absinthe bar. And the rich wood and ropes make you feel like you’re near the water. Speaking of, this brunch was practically a Party in the City Where the Heat is On as 3/5 of the group was from Miami.

So, pull up a seat, swim up, whatever. Let’s have a bloody with an oyster shooter.

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The Morning After Mary is more than a clever name and a pretty face. Clearly, this wins for garnish alone. Has anyone else had a bloody mary with an oyster garnish? This was news to us. The smoky maple bacon, lemon slice and rosemary sprig didn’t hurt either.

Garnish aside, this is a good tasting bloody. It’s made with Hangar 1 Chipotle (another first), which if it’s the same as its sisters, is derived from grapes. The housemade mix is a combo of spicy tomato juice, sriracha, stout, Worcestershire sauce and other seasonings. It’s spicy and heavy on Worcestershire but not overbearing. Morning After Mary has a little sister, Malicious Mary, that’s good but not as grown up, especially in the garnish dept.

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Because we like to drink and our friends do too, there were other cocktails. We’ve never been that into them, but The Savoy’s mimosa turned us into believers. It’s genius, really. It’s a glass of bubbly with a scoop of housemade sorbet. Because it’s not made with juice, the bubbly shines while the fruit flavor plays a supporting role. This particular mimosa was blood orange, and you know how we feel about blood orange.

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Remember as a kid when the best part about breakfast was slurping in the milk after you ate your cereal? Well, imagine that deliciousness + booze.

We believe the exact quotes at first sip of cereal milk were:

Shut. Up.

More like, ‘Pebbles and Damn Damn!

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Let’s talk about another kind of dayyyummm right now. The food. First, if you’re going with a group, split the lobster mac ‘n cheese. Or eat it yourself, whatever. The crab cake benedict was ridiculous, especially topped with a roasted tomato hollandaise. Both of us Marys got the saffron shrimp, normally served over polenta but came atop black rice. No complaints. And last but least: banana bread french toast, a delicious combo of sweet and savory with Sailor Jerry flambe bananas. Anything on the menu will probably have you saying, “Dayum.”

Amazing bloody, cocktails and food. There’s really no excuse for you to not be at The Savoy for brunch. Get over there.

Morning After Mary:  Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:        4

Spicy:      4

Treats:       5

Creativity: 5

Overall:      4.5

 
Restaurant Information


* Restaurant Name
The Savoy
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
West Town
* Street Address
1408 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
* Phone
(773) 698-6925
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Famous Bloody Mary, Smoke Daddy

Got ribs? We did.

Smoke Daddy isn’t one of the first places that come to mind when you think brunch. In fact, they don’t serve brunch at all (yet). We actually came because of a bet and BBQ sauces.

See, one of the Marys has a husband. And said husband is into everything sports, real and fantasy. On the line was a Smoke Daddy meal to the winner of the fantasy football league. And well, he won.

Prior to our visit, our bet would have been that Smoke Daddy‘s Famous Bloody Mary is amazing. After all, Smoke Daddy does BBQ oh so right. And countless people have told us that their bloody is among their faves.

To be honest, we were slightly underwhelmed. BEFORE you become outraged, we acknowledge it could have been an off day. The housemade mix (which is also available for purchase) is slightly smoky and it’s accompanied by a splash of Guinness and a tiny High Life bottle. Half the group paid an extra $1 to add Effen Cucumber Vodka, thinking it would add smoothness to the spice (To the credit of the server, she told us that she wasn’t a fan of it). Either way, the bloody mary tasted slightly watery and lacked the spice and flavor that we adore in their homemade BBQ sauces.

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The garnish in this Famous Bloody Mary, on the other hand, is a showstopper. Warm smoked brisket and pulled pork. Enough said. Maybe the best garnish we’ve experienced yet.

Now, the food. We’re not conoisseurs in smoked meats, but Smoke Daddy serves some damn delicious ones. Among those eaten in our group were smoked pulled chicken and ribs. It’s the sides that really get us excited though. Mac ‘n cheese, slaw, smoked pit beans, sweet potato fries, jalapeno corn bread etc. Amazing.

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All in all, we have a lot of heart for Smoke Daddy. We look forward to their upcoming brunch menu, which we learned will probably start in March when the expansion is finished. We’ll be baackk.

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

Taste:        2.5

Spicy:       3

Treats:       4

Creativity: 3

Overall:      3

Has anyone enjoyed Smoke Daddy’s Famous Bloody Mary or bought the homemade mix? If so, what was your opinion?

Restaurant Information


* Restaurant Name
The Smoke Daddy
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
West Town
* Street Address
1804 West Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622
* Phone
(773) 772-6656
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Signature Bloody Mary, Big Star

Not many things can get you out of bed on New Year’s Day, and do so enthusiastically. But this day marked a truly special occasion.

Big Star was serving a bloody mary.

With the glorious promise of tacos and our favorite tomato-based cocktail, we put our name on the wait list. Shortly after, a few seats opened at the bar. Lucky us.

This ended up being just a drinking occasion, which seems odd for New Year’s Day. We made a meal of the Plantanos Fritos (fried plantains with chile, lime, queso fresco, mojo de ajo and crema), girl talk, and two bloodies each.

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We can’t say enough amazing things about this bloody mary. Made with jalapeno-infused vodka, tomato, smoked black pepper and bloody-mary bitters, it’s smoky, spicy and even a little sexy. According to the bartender, the smokiness comes courtesy of the chipotle and barrel-aged worcestshire sauce.

Finally, a beer back with a purpose. Normally, the small serving of beer feels like a cute accessory. This tumbler of Schlitz came to put out the flames.

This bloody also didn’t lack in garnish: lemon, lime, cilantro, salami, baby corn, pepper, onion and cheese. No wonder we didn’t order a real meal.

When can you get this gem with your tacos, you ask? A tweet from Big Star let us know that it will soon become Sunday menu fixture. Hooray!

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

Taste:        5

Spicy:       4.5

Treats:       3

Creativity: 4.5

Overall:      4.25

Cheers to our first bloody mary of 2013!  We’re off to a fantastic start.

Restaurant Information


* Restaurant Name
Big Star
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
West Town
* Street Address
1531 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
* Phone
(773) 235-4039
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Botanical and Fire Bloody Marys, Storefront Company

Here it is! The bloody last bloody of 2012. To close the year out with pizzazz, we chose wisely, the Storefront Company in Wicker Park.

You must come here, if only for the droolworthy decor. The food and bloodies are bonuses. We stayed so long we were tempted to hire moving vans and set up house. Be forewarned before you visit, Storefront only serves brunch on Sundays.

We wouldn’t say we’ve saved the best for last, but these are some pretty damn interesting, creative bloody marys. There are three on the menu. Just like the restaurant, they’re gorgeous.

For starters, we ordered the Fire and Botanical bloody marys. We equated Fire to a boozy gazpacho. In fact, it’s chunky enough to be finished with a spoon (Not documented, luckily). Accessorized with a salty rim and cooled by a giant ice ball, Fire’s thai chilis and habanero shrub (whatever that is) make the drink live up to its name—one bold, spicy biatch. Plus, it arrived without garnishes. But not lacking.

Next up is the Botanical, one of the most creative bloodies we’ve seen. Also with no garnish. The Botanical also lived up to its name with floral and fruity notes on the palate. A gin-based bloody mary created in two layers. The bottom layer is a traditional bloody mary mix, and the top a rosemary, thyme, lemon and fennel foam. This bloody is smooth and floral. Not typical qualities you’d expect, but we have no complaints.

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What’s funny is that we both enjoyed our drinks but wished we had ordered the others’. We also tried the Classic Bloody Mary, which indeed lives up to its name (theme?). It’s classic like a little black dress: something traditional you count on, but nothing you get thrilled about wearing.

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The Garden was ordered because the ingredients are akin to a bloody . At first sip, it’s delicious. However, after a few, the overpowering worcestershire sauce turns it into a meat marinade.

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Now, let’s chat food. The SF deviled eggs were devoured as a starter. So imaginative. The egg shells are hallowed out and filled with potato crema, yolk and accompanied with caviar and chives. Because we are classy ladies who eat with tiny spoons. The eggs were reminiscent of the best and airiest mashed potatoes you’ve ever had.

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We’ve been dabbling with untraditional brunch foods, as evident from the Nellcote fresh spaghetti. Keeping the streak alive, one of The Marys ordered fried rice and eggs. Good, but heavy on the soy sauce and crunchiness. Plus, the coriander-hollandaise and pomegranate-caviar flavors weren’t very loud.

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As much as we love brunch, admittedly, neither of us are huge omelette fans. This omelette was savory and interesting with the mingling of blue crab and mascarpone but not remarkable.

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Fire: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:          3.5

Spicy:         4.5

Treats:       3  (inside the bloody)

Creativity: 4

Overall:      3.75

Botanical:  Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:         4

Spicy:         3

Treats:       4  (inside the bloody)

Creativity: 4

Overall:      3.75

Cheers to 2013! Bring on more bloodies!

Restaurant Information


* Restaurant Name
Storefront Company
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
West Town
* Street Address
1941 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
* Phone
(773) 661-2609
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