The Bloody Mary Club: Bespoke Kitchen

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The Bloody Mary Club hit up Bespoke Kitchen a while ago, because we had to see the famous Mary’s Walk of Shame with our own eyes. Richa spotted a picture of it on Instagram and we just *knew* we had to check it out for ourselves.

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Mary’s Walk of Shame is a whopper of a cocktail and it was the absolute highlight of our meal. It’s a bloody mary topped with grilled cheese, maple bacon, pastrami, sausage, pork belly & pickles. The glass has a spicy salt rim.

The restaurant itself is very modern but in a charming way, not a clinical way. We made reservations but the place wasn’t very crowded, so I’m not sure if it was necessary. We ordered the biscuit bites (with fried chicken and gravy, naturally), shrimp & grits, short rib benedict, and Angie’s croast (which is a croissant french toast hybrid). Bespoke Kitchen is all about locally sourced ingredients and “New York style” food. Our food was okay, but the Bloody Mary was the highlight of the meal. Afterall, if I really wanted to eat a good shrimp and grits or biscuits and gravy, I’d be looking for an actual soul food restaurant, not a hip West Village “New York style” restaurant.

But honestly, the Mary’s Walk of Shame is worth a trip to Bespoke Kitchen on its own. It was practically a meal in itself. We were so full from the process of drinking the first one that we didn’t have room for a second drink – that’s almost blasphemous as far as Saturday brunches are concerned! We all agreed that next time we would hit up Bespoke Kitchen for a cocktail before going somewhere else for brunch.

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Cheat Sheet:

Bloody Mary:
Liquor Base: Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: Perfectly slurp-able
Spice: Not too salty – the toppings add all the salt you could want
Fixin’s: Grilled cheese, maple bacon, pastrami, sausage, pork belly, pickles & a salted spice rim
Overall Rating:  4.8 out of 5

Bespoke Kitchen is located at615 1/2 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014. http://www.thebespokekitchen.com/

A Literary Cocktail Party inspired by Arrowsmith

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I would call Sinclair Lewis’ Arrowsmith a “pretty serious book”, but one of my favorite things about it is its setting within the Prohibition Era. We see the protaganist, Martin Arrowsmith, going into speakeasies with his friends and sneaking into the back rooms of warehouses alongside the general public warnings on the dangers of drinking and gambling. I think this especially stood out to me as the other Pulitzer winners set in this era have all shied away from any mentions of drinking. Without further adieu, I invite you to The Ice House in the West Indies to join Martin Arrowsmith for his signature “rum swizzler.”

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This is Barrio 47, but I imagine The Ice House is similar to this

The Ice House, that dimmest and most peaceful among saloons, with its cool marble tables, its gilt-touched white walls, had not been closed, though only the oldest topers and the youngest bravos, fresh out from Home and agonizingly lonely… were desperate enough to go there, and of the attendants there remained only one big Jamaica barman. By chance he was among them all the most divine mixer of the planter’s punch, the New Orleans fizz, and the rum swizzle.

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Recipe courtesy of Liquor.com

Bermuda Rum Swizzle Cocktail:

  • 4 oz. Gold Rum
  • 4 oz. Black Rum
  • 8 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 8 oz. Orange Juice
  • 3/4 oz. Grenadine
  • 6 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Shake vigorously with crushed ice, and then garnish with pineapple, oranges, maraschino cherries, and any other tropical fruit that catch your eye.

Although I’m glad we no longer have this law, it’s a period of time that I don’t know much about and am intrigued by. I suppose finding a book on the Prohibition should be added to my to-do list!

Additional Reading:

  • Font courtesy of Manfred Klein
  • Curious about the difference between gold and black rum? Apparently there are four types of rum.
  • Check out our first Literary Cocktail Party post here, featuring Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.
  • Arrowsmith was the 1926 Pulitzer winner, and Sinclair Lewis was the first (and only) writer to refuse the prize. Read more about it here.
  • Fun fact: 1926 was also the year The Great Gatsby was published. Some people would say that Gatsby deserved the Pulitzer much more than Arrowsmith did.

The Bloody Mary Club: The East Pole Kitchen & Bar

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Most recently, the Bloody Mary Club went to The East Pole for brunch! New York weather has been a little indecisive this month, but the morning of brunch was lovely and we snagged a great table outdoors. The East Pole is a popular after-work destination for cocktails, so I was eager to try not one, but two Bloody Marys!

Left to Right: Peach Bellini, Spicy Maria, Bloody Mary

I got the Bloody Mary, which was vodka, “market tomato juice” and fresh horseradish, garnished with celery and an olive. It definitely tasted like fresh tomato juice, and it was a light and refreshing take on a Bloody Mary. Most of the items on East Pole’s menu were just like this – light, fresh, and well seasoned. We started with a pastry basket followed by Eggs Florentine, Avocado Toast topped with soft boiled eggs and hot sauce, and a cheeseburger with a side of “duck fat chips”which were really savory potato wedges. The Eggs Florentine was definitely my favorite. I’d skip the pastry basket and avocado toast next time and try something else.

Counter Clockwise: Eggs Florentine, Avocado Toast, The East Pole Cheeseburger

Richa got the Spicy Maria so we could  try both. This had a jalapeno-infused tequila mixed with the same tomato juice. This one had a weird aftertaste that we couldn’t quite put our finger on. There wasn’t much of a kick at all – we could hardly taste the jalapeno – and we were a little disappointed. Richa said she would definitely stick with the Bloody Mary next time. Iris’s Peach Bellini was good, but I would say it was pretty standard – not a bad choice, but nothing to write home about. Overall, I would say it was a pretty successful brunch – great weather, a beautiful venue, fresh and filling food that didn’t leave us groggy, and lovely company! We’ll definitely be back to try a different menu sometime!

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Cheat Sheet:

Bloody Mary:
Liquor Base: Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: Pretty standard – just juice, no pulp or surprises
Spice: Not spicy or too salty, a very fresh and light drink
Fixin’s: Horseradish, Celery, Olive
Overall Rating:  4 out of 5

Spicy Maria:
Liquor Base: Jalapeno-Infused Tequila
Viscosity/Texture: Again, pretty standard – just juice, no pulp or surprises
Spice: Disappointingly bland
Fixin’s: Celery, Olive
Overall Rating:  1.5 out of 5

The East Pole Kitchen is located at 133 E. 65th Street, New York, NY 10065. It’s tucked away in a little alcove, so keep your eyes out or you might walk past it twice like I did! http://www.theeastpolenyc.com/

The Bloody Mary Club: PJ Clarke’s

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P.J. Clarke’s is a New York staple (although according to their website, there are also now locations in Washington, DC and Brazil!) with dark wood and red checked tablecloths. They’re renowned for their burgers and Bloody Marys. Any New York Bloody Mary list would be incomplete without a visit to P.J. Clarke’s, so I headed over to the one at Lincoln Center with some classmates for a late night snack last week. Who says Bloody Marys are only for brunch? In my book, it’s never too late for one.

IMG_2740The Original Clarke’s Bar Bloody Mary comes with olives, a wedge of lemon, lime, and a stalk of celery. The drink is very salty, so you’ll need a few glasses of water while you’re drinking. The glass is rimmed with some sort of vinegar & sugary syrup – this was the highlight of the drink. I would highly recommend ditching the straw to get the full experience. I would say this variation is a classic; you’ll never be disappointed because you’ll get a consistent drink every time. However, half the fun is trying new interpretations! If you’ve never had a Bloody Mary before, I think this is a good place to start to get a strong foundation. I would give this a solid 3/5, a perfect baseline to get acclimated to the world of Bloody Marys.

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Cheat Sheet:

Liquor Base: Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: Thin, but not watery
Spice: More salty than anything else, definitely not spicy
Fixin’s: Celery, Lemon & Lime Wedge, Vinegar-Sugar Rim
Overall Rating:  3 out of 5

The Lincoln Square P.J. Clarke’s is located at 44 West 63rd Street, New York, NY 10023 http://www.pjclarkes.com/lincoln-square/

 

The Bloody Mary Club: Delicatessen

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Delicatessen, known for its take on “International Comfort Food”, is located in the Lower East Side. Because they don’t take reservations for brunch, we went at 10:30am right as the restaurant was opening. (Shout out to Richa for showing up first two months in a row!) The decor is modern and sleek, and I think it would be a great place to people watch in the summer when all of the glass walls are open onto the sidewalk.

The Bloody Mary at Delicatessen is known as the “Stacked Mary,” and it is definitely stacked. There’s celery, olives, cucumber, pickled vegetables, a lemon wedge, a shrimp, and a bacon salt rimmed glass. This is the kind of Bloody Mary that I envision people drink while tailgating at football games and create at those make-your-own Bloody Mary bars that I keep hearing about.

The Stacked Mary

The vodka and Bloody Mary mixture was smooth, savory, and well seasoned. I happily crunched on the celery while waiting for our food to come out, and I dunked the shrimp into the drink halfway through to give it some flavor. While I didn’t eat the olives, I loved the “stacked” presentation of the drink and would have been disappointed if there were no olives.

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The Bloody Mary Club: Jacob’s Pickles

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Richa, Iris, and I met up for a Bloody Mary brunch for the first time since July! It’s been awfully hard for us to find time when everyone’s able to make it, but we decided what better time to get back on track than the New Year? Jacob’s Pickles has been on our list of places to go to for a very long time, because Iris has never been! It’s an Upper West Side staple of Southern inspired food – fried chicken, biscuits, grits, and of course, Bloody Marys! We showed up at 11:30 and there was already a two hour wait! It’s definitely worth the wait at least once, so we put our names down, and went to a coffee shop across the street to caffeinate and catch up. Jacob’s Pickles will text you when your table is ready.Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 11.10.47 PM

This is the Holy Grail of Bloody Marys. Just about everyone at the restaurant was ordering this, which Jacob’s Pickles calls the Bloody B.L.T. In it is Tito’s Vodka, thick cut bacon, a jalapeno pickled egg, and a leaf of lettuce. My advice is to eat the egg first, drop the bacon into the mason jar, and guzzle away from there! Iris agreed and says, “It’s packed with spices and easy on the eyes” which is true, this is one very attractive drink! The drink has just the right amount of Vodka, spice, and pulp. It’s not an extremely spicy drink, instead it’s a quite refreshing complement to the food. This is about as good as it gets, so I think it is officially the best Bloody Mary on our list!

If you’re not a Bloody Mary fan, the second most popular drink seems to be the Jam Jar, which is house-infused strawberry gin, lemonade, and slices of strawberries. It’s light, refreshing, and just tart enough. IMG_2520.JPG

The food itself was also divine! We got mushroom gravy smothered fried chicken on a biscuit, the honey chicken & pickles biscuit sandwich, fried green tomatoes, and, of course, fried pickles. The food portions were huge, so we weren’t able to finish everything, but trust me, there was nothing left in our mason jars!

If you’re someone with a hearty appetite at 9am, I would recommend trying to get there when it opens to beat the crowd. However, since the portions are pretty large and heavy, I think it’s more afternoon food. It’s perfect if you want to go to the Museum of Natural History first, or if the weather is nice, you could nap in Central Park first.

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Cheat Sheet:

Bloody B.L.T.
Liquor Base: Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: Medium thickness, just enough pulp and spices for texture, but not thick enough to require chewing
Spice: Just enough to add flavor
Fixin’s: Bacon, Lettuce, and a Pickled Egg
Overall Rating:  5 out of 5

Jacob’s Pickles is located at 509 Amsterdam, New York, NY 10024. http://jacobspickles.com

 

The Bloody Mary Club: Jack’s Wife Freda

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It’s been a while since I posted about a Bloody Mary! Don’t fret, I still love them, but we have been too busy recently to meet up for brunch. Iris and I finally got it together and met at Jack’s Wife Freda on Carmine Street last weekend. The place is famous for its long wait, so we decided to beat the crowd, so we got there fifteen minutes after it opened, around 8:45. Surprisingly, we weren’t even close to the first people there, but there was no wait at all.

The food was delicious, and the restaurant had a really clean & chic decor. Jack’s Wife Freda is an American-Mediterranean bistro, so we ordered Green Shakshuka, Jack’s Breakfast, and an order of house-cured duck bacon. I had a Bloody Mary, and Iris ordered the Cantaloupe Mimosa.

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Photo Courtesy of Iris’ Instagram – thanks girl!

The Cantaloupe Mimosa was really fresh and subtle. Unfortunately, the Bloody Mary came with all of the right fixin’s but was disappointingly underwhelming. It was a little thin and watery, without any real flavor or kick. It didn’t even taste as good as the ones you make at home with pre-made mix.

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I think the restaurant is definitely worth the trip, but I would stick to coffee and juice.

Cheat Sheet:

Bloody Mary

Liquor Base: Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: Thin and watery
Spice: Not spicy at all
Fixin’s: Olives, Lemon, Lime & Celery
Overall Rating: 2  out of 5

Jack’s Wife Freda has two locations. The one we went to was located at 50 Carmine Street, New York, NY 10014. http://www.jackswifefreda.com/

A Literary Cocktail Party: Book & Drink Pairings

I don’t know about you, but I have a flurry of social obligations this weekend. In order to make it to all of these events, I will probably be abstaining from drinking a lot of alcohol – this weekend is a marathon, not a sprint! However, I don’t want to miss out on all the fun, so I thought I’d plan a literary cocktail party here. If these books hosted parties, what would their signature drinks be? Without further adieu, you are cordially invited to…

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Go Set a Watchman + Manhattansmanhattan

go set a watchmanGo Set a Watchman is set in my heart of hearts, Alabama. Every Southern girl knows how to hold her whiskey, so I imagine Scout and Hank bringing flasks of it to drink by the water. When they’re not drinking it neat, I think Scout would appreciate a good Manhattan, especially since we find her a New York City girl in Harper Lee’s second book. I think she would refuse to eat maraschino cherries though, don’t you? I can see her sneaking them into Atticus’ glass when he pretends to not be looking.

 

 

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The Magicians + A Sunday in the Park

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The Magicians is a pretty dark and twisted fantasy novel; it follows Quentin Coldwater as he attends Brakebills, a college of magic in New York. I wanted to focus on the first half of the book, when Quentin and his friends spend their time drinking in the Cottage and hosting elaborate dinner parties (complete with magical moving ice sculptures showing Zeus and Leda). I think this “Sunday in the Park” Lillet cocktail would be perfect for drunk games of welters. It’s an herbal concotion of Lillet, Bourbon, herbs, and simple syrup. It can be as light or as strong as you want, so Eliot can add as much extra bourbon as his heart desires.

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Wolf Hall + Blood & Honey

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Wolf Hall takes place in 1500 England and follows the rise of Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII. I can’t really picture Thomas Cromwell drinking anything but pints of mead and ale, but just humor me here, okay? I imagine that if a local pub created a cocktail in his honor, they would come up with something similar to Cornish Mead Co.’s Blood and Honey. The only catch is they would maybe use the actual blood of the people that Cromwell has defeated… Yikes!

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It’s your turn! What drinks would you pair with these books (or other books)? What are you doing this weekend?

Additional Resources:

The Bloody Mary Club: Boulud Sud

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This month, we took on a New York staple – Daniel Boulud’s Boulud Sud. Located on a quiet street between Broadway and Central Park West, the entrance to the restaurant is quaint and unassuming. In fact, Iris had trouble finding it! The decor inside is very traditional and old-school. The service was awful, but the food and drinks were both delicious. Iris and I quickly ordered drinks while we waited for Richa to show up (only 30 minutes late this time!) Boulud Sud is very sneaky, because there is no Bloody Mary on their menu, so you have to ask for it specifically.

That makes today’s Bloody Mary post especially tricky, because without a menu to read from, we still have no idea what the name of this drink is or how the restaurant would describe it. All that I have to go off are my own tastebuds and what I could find on the Internet. Boulud Sud serves a “Provençal-style Mediterranean cuisine” and has created a Mediterranean-inspired Bloody Mary as well. There are thin strips of fresh basil in the drink, so be prepared to slurp and chew a little of your drink. I did not look like a lady, but what’s a little slurping among friends, right? The drink has a hint of curry instead of the traditional worcestershire and tabasco. Richa and I both really liked it. Iris usually doesn’t like curry, but even she agreed that the drink was delicious and not too overpowering. I personally would have liked a little more kick, whether it was a little spice or a little more curry. Until I can find out what this drink is called, I’ll refer to it as the Curry Mary.

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Can you see the little slivers of basil peeking out at you?

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The Bloody Mary Club – Cookshop NYC

The Bloody Mary Club

Richa and I went to Cookshop for a late brunch after we caught a matinee of Guards at the Taj (you have two more weeks to go see it – go!) Cookshop is operated by Marc Meyer, who runs two other restaurants in New York. The decor was lovely inside, very light and airy. It was raining, and a breeze came in through the front door. Neither of us had been before, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. The service was terrible, but the food was great. But let me tell you about the Bloody Marys – winner winner chicken dinner!

Left to Right: BLT Mary, Pickled Mary

Cookshop had five Bloody Marys on the menu. (Their menu online is outdated, be warned!) I ordered the Pickled Mary, which was vodka, pickle + tomato juice, topped with a pickle, pickled red onions, olives, lemon, and celery. There was a nice smoky salt rim. The pickle, tomato, and lemon combination is very acidic, but served as a nice counterbalance to the creaminess of eggs, cheese, and grits.

Richa ordered the BLT Mary – bacon infused vodka and house-made Bloody Mary mix, topped with bacon, lettuce, and olives. The vodka was insanely smoky and bacon-y, and the BLT Mary was very spicy. Richa loves drinks with a bit of heat, so it was the perfect choice for her. Too bad there was a fly in her first drink! If the waitress had been attentive enough, I would have ordered a BLT Mary as my second drink. Alas, the waitress knew what was better for me and thought one drink was enough.

The drinks were a little watery and thin for our tastes, but the flavor was amazing. After we ate, Richa and I reminisced on all of the Ghosts of Marys Past, and we crowned the Cookshop Bloody Mary as our new favorite. The reign of the abck mary is over!

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Cheat Sheet:

Pickled Mary
Liquor Base: Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: A little watery
Spice: Not so much spicy as nicely acidic and vinegary
Fixin’s: Celery, pickles, pickled onions, olives, and a lemon wedge
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

BLT Mary
Liquor Base: Bacon Infused Vodka
Viscosity/Texture: A little watery
Spice: Absolutely amazing – not for the faint of heart
Fixin’s: Bacon, lettuce, olives
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Cookshop is located at 156 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011. http://cookshopny.com/