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/

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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/

Adaptation: The Crucible

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is currently in previews on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater and opens March 31 – next Thursday! I was lucky enough to snag discounted tickets last week and eagerly met a friend there Saturday night.

If you haven’t read this play before, here’s a quick summary: it’s 1692 Salem, and you know what that means – the Salem Witch Trials. A group of teen girls led by Abigail Williams claim to have been enchanted by Tituba, Abigail’s uncle’s slave from Barbados. Quickly the girls gain power in the town as they claim to be able to see spirits and witchcraft. They begin naming witches and things quickly spiral out of control. Written in 1953, this is often seen as an allegory warning against McCarthyism.

Did you read the play or watch it first? I haven’t read The Crucible since high school American literature class about a decade ago, but I remembered the plot and a few of the most pivotal scenes.

How were the play and Broadway adaptation the same? While I am always hesitant to see movie or play adaptations of a favorite book, I think a play is a little different, because although the costumes, casting, & set design are open to interpretation, the script never changes. Your favorite lines will (usually) never be cut, and your favorite characters will never unexpectedly die.

How were the play and Broadway adaptation different?  This Broadway adaptation completely blew me away. There’s a star studded and phenomenal cast: Saoirse Ronan as Abigail Williams, Ben Whishaw as John Proctor, and Tavi Gevinson as Mary Warren. The stage was pretty sparse, and it’s set up like an old fashioned class room with a big chalkboard along the back of the stage. There are moments of pure magic – a little Betty Parris flying in the house, Mary Warren writing “I cannot, I cannot” across the entire chalkboard – that are both open for interpretation and add a bit of whimsy to the play. The other thing that I found completely refreshing was the colorblind casting of the play. Diversity is such an important and sensitive topic these days, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a pretty diverse cast. I expected an all-white cast but for Tituba, the Barbadian slave (like the otherwise great 1996 movie adaptation). Instead, there was an African American judge, neighbor, wife, etc.

I also wanted to tell you that the orchestra was composed by Philip Glass, and it is absolutely haunting and the perfect backdrop for such a dark play. If this soundtrack becomes available online somewhere soon, I will definitely be listening to it on repeat while I am working.

Parting Thoughts:  If you’re lucky enough to live in New York City or if you’ll be visiting in the near future, I would highly recommend this play. I have loaded the play onto my Kindle and plan on revisiting it soon.

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Additional Reading:

 

Other Posts in the Adaptation Series:

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/