We are Bitches, but are we Bloody Mary experts? The Bloody Mary Liberation Party certainly thinks so! The group invited us to judge not just one Bloody Mary Festival, but two—in DC and Brooklyn.
The sold-out events were both epic, and we Bitches ran around, clipboards in hand, making sure we tried the concoctions from each of the dozen of restaurants and bars that served up some of the most interesting Bloody Marys we’ve seen.
The winners? Read on.
Brooklyn’s Bloody Mary Festival was held in what seems like an airplane hanger of industrial complexes, in Industry City near the Hudson River. The open-air space allowed for hundreds of guests to pack in and get in lines for their taste of Brooklyn’s finest.
There were Marys with marshmallows, Marys with bourbon, even Marys with tequila! Congress Bar won the People’s Choice for Best Bloody Mary, but we unanimously picked Pok Pok Ny’s take on the classic cocktail. Pok Pok’s cocktail wasn’t initially aesthetically appealing due to an unexpected dark hue, but what it lacked in looks it made up for in flavor. We were blown away by the unique and zesty combination of Thai chilies, soy sauce, and Bloody Mary curry paste. It was the first Bloody that we sampled and left a lasting impression after we made our way through 11 other competitors.
In second place, a tie between Mominette hailing from Bushwish and Enid’s from Greenpoint. Mominette’s cocktail featured the usual suspects (vodka, tomato juice, lemon, horseradish), but was elevated by unexpected elements such as homemade chipotle puree and the not-so-secret ingredient, a pinot noir reduction. This beverage also hosted our favorite garnish of the afternoon, a housemade bacon marshmallow. It was the perfect pop of salty and sweet flavors and melted in our mouths.
Enid’s Bloody Mary was proof that you didn’t have to be extravagant to rise above the competition. Simply executing the classic recipe right is what earned Enid’s the silver medal. A splash of BBQ sauce gave Enid’s recipe an edge, but we were more so impressed by the perfect balance between iconic ingredients.
Coming in third place was 706 Bar in Prospect Heights. This dive bar is a neighborhood favorite and knows just how to create a concoction to cure local hangovers. This Bloody was smooth, but certainly packed a punch.
The Bloody Mary Festival provided patrons with a variety of food options to level out our alcohol intake. Our favorites included fresh oysters right off the shell courtesy of Brooklyn Oyster Party and an assortment of flavored pickles from McClure’s, a Brooklyn establishment.
Fresh out of the festival, the New York Bitches continued along the ultimate Sunday Funday including a Williamsburg photo shoot and a monstrous tasting at Umami Burger. Brooklyn we go hard, indeed!
A month later, the Bloody Mary Liberation Party had migrated to the District. They headed to a new venue called Blind Whino, which is an old church now converted into an event space, and covered in amazing art and graffiti.
Blind Whino turned out to be the perfect funky venue for the event. We had beautiful weather to sit outside, sip Bloodys and nosh on Rocklands BBQ sliders. And while the venue itself was quite the conversation starter, the tables and tables (two floors!) of Bloody Marys kept the party going.
The selections were endless and the garnishes were simply over the top. Taste-testing over 13 different types of spicy drinks can be exhausting, so we appreciated the various restaurants that had bold garnishes like Founding Farmers’ chicken and waffles or Buffalo & Bergen with its bagel sandwich. In fact, they had the longest lines at the festival, as people were willing to wait for this meal in a glass.
But the winner was a deconstructed Mary from Brian Voltaggio’s Range. Simple but amazing. It not only won our judges’ hearts, it was also People’s Choice. No surprise there from local celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio, who uses pig blood consommé. It was light, refreshing and an obvious standout in a field of heavy Bloodys.
In second place, another unique approach. Rebellion DC made a Mary with Bulleit bourbon, and it was a winner. Annie, our DC Social Bitch, despises Bloody Marys (even though she tried them all!), but she loved Rebellion’s creative spin on the traditional drink.
In third place, Founding Farmers’ chicken and waffles contraption. Which also won a prize for being unique. But Becca found the drink to be quite average, and the garnish quickly got soggy. All looks and no substance.
We also appreciated the number of non-competitors that were there sharing their goods. Local vendors like Crunkcakes showed off their alcohol-infused pastries (yeah, you read that right). Gordy’s Pickles let us sample their pickles which, incidentally, go great with Bloody Marys. And McClure’s, which is one of Becca’s favorites, was serving up its mixes and pickles at both festivals.
Thanks for having us, Bloody Mary lovers! Until next year.