Do you love Bloody Mary’s, really love them as in crave them? I joined my cousin and some friends of his this past Sunday to hit the 2016 BloodyMaryFest Held in Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall (a former Opera Hall that is a spectacular space) by Prospect Park for the Brooklyn Bloody Mary Festival.
The Bloody Mary has come a long way from its humble beginnings of Tomato Juice, salt, pepper, Worcester sauce, horseradish, celery salt and a stalk of celery. These days they are the crafted by mixologists with the mad skills of Spanish Gastro-Fusion chefs. Event Organizer Evan Weiss searched far and wide throughout Brooklyn to find the best and most unique Bloody’s Brooklyn has to offer. Below I chronicle my tongue tingling tasting extravaganza.
I started at Natalie’s Orchid Island to fuel up on some healthy vitamin rich juice where I grabbed what I thought was Blood Orange but turned out to be the Beet Juice. Still tasty though preferred the Grapefruit I had later in the day. I started my Bloody quest with the Iron Station’s since it had Bacon in it and it was Brunch time after all. It had Bacon. This was one of my favorites, a classic with just the right amount of smoky flavor.
I then headed into the adjacent room to catch up with my cousin where my plan of starting on one end and working my way around went right out the window turning into a random zig-zag. I enjoyed some tasty Cypress Grove Cheeses followed by Brooklyn Bespoke’s Bacon Jam both the spicy and the not on crackers to form a layer to soak up the Bloody’s.
Next up was the Bloody Mary Liberation Party created for the event made with Natalie’s tomato juice and getting its green from cilantro. Bruce Cost Ginger Beer was on hand to make Moscow Mules by spiking it with BleuStorm Vodka.
Talde provided another fave with its Asian flavored mix that included fish sauce and wasabi and topped it with bacon and a jalapeño pepper. My cousin and I then ran into the West Coast Bloody Mary Blogger the @DrunkenTomato to get her thoughts on the contestants and then caught up with Evan Weiss the host and organizer of the fest to discuss its humble beginnings and how it’s grown.
Next up was Travel Bar’s Mary that I really enjoyed. Though I prefer spicy, this cool as a cucumber version was a refreshing change of pace. I went up to 706 but they ran out of their Bloody’s one hour into the event! Thus I never had one, but heard they were pretty good.
Catfish did a nice twist on the classic by rimming it Cajun spices and topping it with Abita Stout. Hunter’s (my namesake:) Saigon Mary was another that used Asian flavors blending lemongrass, lime, and Black garlic to name a few and topped it with Shrimp and a slice of cucumber. Esme provided an old school classic with some twists. Good but I would have liked more heat.
It was time for a break and being a Chocolate-holic I sampled a number of JoMart’s Chocolates. The Six Point Beer and the Hazelnut truffles were tasty, as were the Bacon Bars, and the Dark Chocolate salted Stars. The Toasted Coconut topped marshmallows were a real standout. Grady’s Iced Coffee of which I’m already a big fan had a stand making White Russians giving my friends and I some Big Lebowski moments …the Dude abided these as the perfect break between Bloodies.
We then popped by the BleuStorm booth a Vodka from France that fueled all the drinks and trying it straight up found it pretty smooth. Better yet, of note, no hangover the next day. However my journey was not quite complete after a taste of delish Rum and Bourbon fruit jams from Ode to Babel (perfect name for a bar) which happens to be the name of bar that makes them.
It was on to more Bloody Mary’s which as it turned out there were three that I still needed to try(why one needs to be careful with seconds and White Russians).The Lucky Luna with nori and kimchi received mixed results. I loved it, but those who don’t like kimchi didn’t. Luckily Luna had plenty of kimchi lovers on hand making it the winner of the New Wave Bloody Mary.
Skylark blended a number of Hot Sauces to bring the heat including the only one I think with Tabasco. It was a nice spin on the classic. Last but certainly not least was another Asian influenced version this one from Syndicated.
My takeaways from the fest are…
Sriracha is the new Tabasco. It was in just about every bars Bloody.
2016 was the year of the Asian influenced Bloody. I would like to see some South American flavors next year
I would like to see more Food Vendors at next years event (subtle hint:)
The Grand Prospect Hall is well worth a visit. Amazing space.
If you love Bloody Mary’s you need to hit this next year. Plus follow @BloodyMaryFest on Twitter for year round Bloody Mary events.
Photo Credits: Along with my own photos my cousin Rich Rubel contributed a number of pics for this piece.