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Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Sunday brunch brings many Buffalonians together for a morning food, fun, and fresh cocktails. The two front runners for brunch beverages are Mimosas and Bloody Marys. As delicious as Mimosas are, it takes a skilled bartender to make a perfectly seasoned Bloody Mary from scratch, and adding a fun garnish.

There’s a strong buzz going about The Lodge (79 W. Chippewa). They already have an impressive reputation for their evening offering of food and drinks, and now they’re opening for brunch on Sundays. The Lodge brunch menu features items like French Toast stuffed with bacon, banana, Nutella, maple syrup and bacon ice cream or the Hangtown Fry which is an omelet with fried oysters, bacon, tomato, and scallions. They have also added a few varieties of my absolute favorite brunch cocktail— Bloody Marys.

Bloody Mary 101

There are key components that need to intermingle to create the best Bloody Mary. I always start with a Bloody Mary mix and add to that instead of plain tomato juice—it makes the flavor of the drink even stronger. Any of the Bloody Mary mixes from Powell & Mahoney are a perfect base. You can start by using lemon juice to make the rim of the glass sticky and rolling it in coarse sea salt. When your glass is ready you can add your mix along with things like Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, Tabasco, celery salt, black pepper and whatever flavor of vodka you think will go best (tomato, black pepper, jalapeno, hot pepper, bacon, or just plain). From there, you can make it yours by adding different spices like dried onion, all seasons, dried garlic, turmeric or cayenne. Try adding different items to completely change the flavor of the drink like maple syrup, mushrooms, Sriracha, red wine, horseradish or whatever else you think might taste great. Once your masterpiece is complete, you can work on the garnish. I like to visit my favorite local olive bar and pick out a variety of olives and cheeses. The Wegmans olive bar has so many options for a terrific garnish, like olives stuffed with blue cheese, almonds, feta, anchovies, and jalapenos. You need the celery—it’s tradition—but Slim Jims also make convenient (and tasty) stirrers. For extra heat, you can try adding one of the spicy Bloody Mary pickles. Then sit back and enjoy your creation.

Neal Kapoor, co-owner and mixologist of the Lodge whipped up a few tangy cocktails for me to try. The Jalapeño Bloody Mary is made with Belizean Heat (habanero pepper sauce), hot pepper vodka and muddled jalapenos. The Bacon Bloody Mary is made with Bakon Vodka and garnished with a crisp, salty strip of bacon—cured and smoked in-house for 6-8 hours. They use their house-smoked bacon for other creative menu selections like their bacon ice cream with s’mores dessert. It’s deninetly worth a trip to The Lodge on Sunday to taste one of these savory afternoon cocktails.

Trattoria Aroma (307 Bryant Street) actually offers a Bloody Mary Menu with their brunch every Sunday. The menu includes the Hail Caesar (Clamato, hearts of Romaine, Parmigiano-Reggiano), the Bloody O’ Mary (Guinness Irish Stout and a Slim Jim), the Aroma Mary (red wine, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, banana pepper, sun-dried tomato), the Buffalo Bloody (Frank’s hot sauce, Gorgonzola, garlic, cumin, celery), and my personal favorite, the Ragin’ Cajun (Clamato, fire roasted pepper, and Old Bay seasoning). Not only is the Ragin’ Cajun zesty and perfectly spicy, but the garnish gives the drink character. This delicious drink is packed with olives, lemon, celery, a Slim Jim and plump piece of shrimp. Grab one of these creative Bloody Marys from Trattoria Aroma and spend some time out on their patio when the weather’s nice.

Black and Blue (5493 Main) in Williamsville created a Martini that was an interesting twist on a Bloody Mary: the Dirty Oyster Martini. This combination of vodka, olive juice, Tabasco, a blue cheese stuffed olive and a raw oyster was such an odd combination that the bartender was stunned someone even ordered it—but it just worked. I believe a nice Bloody Mary pairs well with seafood, especially shrimp, clams and oysters. Putting it all in one drink is brilliant.

Joe Lang came up with the one of a kind Cole’s (1104 Elmwood) Bloody Mary recipe. Refusing to make a mix, Cole’s bartenders make every Bloody Mary from scratch. I’ve been sworn to secrecy about what exactly goes into these Bloody Marys, but they have a secret ingredient that gives theirs an edge over the competition. Pair one of their spicy (and secret) Bloody Marys with an item off the menu like a buttery lobster roll or Buffalo egg rolls stuffed with chicken, bleu cheese crumbles, carrots & celery, served with a side of Frank’s and bleu cheese dressing for a delicious meal. Best of all, you don’t have to wait until Sunday morning to get a Cole’s Bloody Mary because they’ll make them for you any day, any time.

Pano’s (1081 Elmwood) Bloody Marys never disappoint. Garnished with olives, celery, lemon and lime, they’re always seasoned to perfection with juicy olives and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Pair that with an item from their brunch menu, like their smoked salmon Eggs Benedict or a Souvlaki lunch and you’ll be beyond satisfied.

I’ve gone to Glen Park Tavern many times before for lunch and dinner. One night, I ordered a few raw clams and oysters off of the menu, and started craving a Bloody Mary so I decided to give theirs a try. The drink was so flavorful I had to order one more in a larger size. Sprinkle a dab of celery salt, lemon juice and hot sauce over the raw shellfish while sipping a Bloody Mary of great piquancy. Those flavors complement each other so well, and it’s perfect for a light Summer lunch.

Betty’s (370 Virginia Street) Bloody Marys are unique. The minute you get a taste of this blend of spices and hint of horseradish it immediately compliments your breakfast after a night out with friends.

Més Que (1420 Hertel) has one of the best craft cocktail lists I’ve seen in Buffalo, so I knew they’d have the necessary ingredients to create an honorable Bloody Mary. Not only can they make an exemplary ice cold, perfectly spicy cocktail, but theirs had a special touch. Mes Que serves some of their drinks in copper mugs that keep the drinks ice cold. Pair one of Més Que’s Bloody Marys with a charcuterie and cheese plate filled with chorizo, andouille, sopressata, serrano ham, manchego, Maytag Blue, boucheron, and grana padano—a perfect plate to share.

Cecelia’s (716 Elmwood) makes excellent Bloody Marys. Don’t be afraid to ask for something different. Over the summer, Cecelia’s has Tanteo jalapeño tequila. Add that to their already zesty Bloody Mary mix for an extra kick. Spend a night by the bonfire on Cecelia’s patio and order some oyster shooters or fresh clams from their summer clam bar located outside.

Cantina Loco (191 Allen Street) is known for their delicious Mexican cuisine, wide range of tequilas and festive margarita menu. What people may not know is that they also have delicious Bloody Marys. Now, Cantina Loco doesn’t give away the genius recipes that create their original Bloody Mary or their “Bloody Maria.” The only thing they revealed about their mysterious cocktail concoctions is that one is made with tequila and the other vodka. I can respect that they need to keep this salty, savory recipe a restaurant secret, but it’s no secret that you will not be disappointed with any of these bueno Bloody Marys and a fresh pulled pork taco in a corn tortilla.

Blue Monk (727 Elmwood) makes really hot Bloody Marys stuffed with olives. There’s no better way to gear up for the work week then to grab a fresh one and a mussel pot or some duck frites (Belgian style fries cooked in duck fat) with some of their house sauces (honey-cayenne aioli, chipotle bacon mayo, roasted garlic & sea salt, Sriracha mayo, wasabi aioli, Thai curry ketchup, sambal aioli, and smoked chili aioli). Park it on their patio for a few hours and enjoy a few peppery Bloody Marys.

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