Back in my hometown of Chicago. There is a new place to go for BBQ, ‘Merica and a Bloody Mary. This was a recommendation by some pals who enjoy a good Bloody. Thanks to www.bloodybest.com for the tip.
I headed to the across the River and felt like I stepped into something that was more Texas than downtown achievable for sure. Especially the wall of Budweiser and Bud Light cans creating an American Flag mural. I felt like Toby Keith may jump out at any moment and start singing “I love this Bar” but I digress.
Now, I am a bit bummed I am reviewing this on a weekday as they weekend Bloody Mary bar is regarded as pretty stellar. Go read Bloody Best to get the full run down as it would be plagiarism from me. Nonetheless, I saddled up to the bar and soaked in the smells of BBQ and took in a Cubs game on tv.
The Bloody was filled with my favorite…pickled garnishes. And a side car of a pony Miller High Life. I wish this trend would catch on in California. The house mix is a perfect pairing of fresh tomato juice and the variety of spices you know to be used in their BBQ rubs and sauces. Layers of smokey flavors, spice and everything you come to enjoy in a Bloody Mary and BBQ.
Well worth the visit and the food lives up to the reviews. But hey….I am no food critic. Unless it is topped on my Bloody Mary.
“Best Bloody Mary Chicago”
As a native of Chicago I know better than to travel to the Windy City after January until April. Yet, duty called and I had to stomach a trip in one of the worst times of the New Year. A blizzard had just blown through and dumped over a foot of Snow. Streets are still recovering and more Snow is on the way. Sorry, did I mention it is below 20 degrees? Jesus, Mary and Joseph. I am sorry but that is just too fucking cold for this California transplant. Especially when we have been celebrating temperatures, oh I don’t know, 70 degrees warmer!!! As soon as I step outside of Midway Airport I mutter with foggy my breath…”BALLS!” I do not think I have enough layers to survive.
One of my targets this trip was to head out to the South Loop to Jimmy Green’s. I found it on a Thrillist. (You are missing out if you haven’t discovered all things glorious on Thrillist) and from some of my brethren Bloody Mary enthusiasts. Jimmy Green’s has things you love about Chicago. A half shoveled sidewalk, black slush laden streets and inside you find the working class saddling up to the bar midday to warm up with a few libations. There are maybe a dozen folks inside who are all chatting with the hard Chicago accents. I still carry mine in a slightly muted form that can occasionally be found in full effect after a few rounds of drinks. The owner comes on the scene with a loud boisterous voice yelling out “I swear to Go if I find that kid I am gonna bury him. He stole my keys that miserable Fuck.” When you recite that line I ask you to use your imagination. For the voice and accent you should use a very hard, old school Chicago accent and envision it coming from a middle aged Polish decent dude running a bar. I hope he never finds that kid because this is Chicago and we know where to bury people in corn fields.
This place is known for their Ultimate Bloody Mary. In the Midwest there is a theme of extreme Bloody Mary. Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee are key competitors for building an ultimate Bloody Mary. A U.B.M. usually entails a drink that will make you yell the following: “No, way!” “You have to be kidding!” or the proverbial “Holy, Shit!”
This U.B.M. is not extreme but does satisfy the category and my hunger. The mix is a base of Zing Zang that they make in bulk each day. They doll it up with their own spices and two surprising ingredients. Ready? I would never have guessed! Jägermeister and Guinness. The Guinness is not shocking but that add on of Jaeger? I guess because it is spicy drink on its own (and vomit inducing from my College Days) it does make some sense. It’s not as though you can clearly detect the Jaeger when you drink the Bloody Mary but it must somehow complement the overall mix.
Onto the “Ultimateaddons”: Come hungry. The traditional garnish cast members are represented but they found new friends to invite to the party in my mouth. A mini Chicago style Hot Dog. It is fully loaded is speared on top of the glass. The Hot Dog has brought along a date which is a Pepperoncini that is wrapped with a piece of Salami and Provolone.
I have to say that this Bloody Mary hit the spot. Just what was needed after a long flight and suffering the streets in the cold for all of 10 minutes. It gave me a taste of Chicago in a glass and I added a side of Chili to complete the fanfare. MMM, Chicago Chili. There is nothing like it on a cold day. Nothing. Well, maybe I had an Italian Beef. That with a Bloody Mary and a shot of Beer. Yes, that would make my trip complete. There is always tomorrow and I know where to go at the airport on my way out. Harry Caray’s Seventh Inning Stretch …Holy Cow, here I come.
It is all making sense now as to why I am obsessed with Bloody Mary’s. I am originally from Chicago, a northern suburb brat to be exact. Bloody Mary’s were just a part of life in Illinois. And as far back as I can remember I was a fan of the Bloody Mary. Back in the day the Bloody Mary was a little simple as compared to the revolutionary recipes you see today and the expansion of garnishes. Bloodies and buddies have been a fabric of life and no other place in America gets it like the Windy City.
So, I woke up this morning to read a tweet from my new friends @BloodyBestChi who had posted the 10 most ridiculous Chicago Bloody Marys. And let me tell you, these ten knockouts make the rest of the country look weak. WEAK! These maybe…no, they ARE the best I have seen. Not even kidding. Check em out!
So good that I want to jump on a plane today and just Uber location to location. There are some that have a Chicago style hot dog as a garnish! Want an Oyster as a garnish? How about smoked brisket and pulled pork? Chaser of Miller Hi Life? Slice of Pizza? They do not mess around in Chicago. Check it out for yourself. And be sure to check out more locations at http://www.bloodybest.com.
Check out the Sumo Mary at Sunda. “Good luck wrestling the city’s most ridiculous Bloody Mary. 32oz of Bloody mix and Absolut Chicago vodka (distilled Ditka sweat?) in a mason jar, boldly garnished with: Chinese broccoli, loompya stick, herb-roasted potatoes, Oshinko, tocino grilled cheese, baked snow crab hand roll, duck bao, braised pork belly, and three slices of bacon. Come for the vodka and tomato juice, stay for the Chinese buffet perched on top.”
Excuse me? ARE YOU KIDDING? I clearly need to get back home.