We were so honored when the Bloody Mary Liberation Party asked us to judge their Bloody Mary Festival in Brooklyn for the second year in a row! Held in Grand Prospect Hall, one of Brooklyn’s grandest ballrooms, the sold-out event featured ten amazing bars and restaurants from across the borough, all competing to score a top spot in the three Bloody Mary categories.
It was up to us, as well as other esteemed industry judges like Shelley Buchanan from The Drunken Tomato, Murph’s Famous Bloody Mary Mix, and Preservation and co., to pick the winners of the day.
For the first category, Best Bloody Mary – Traditional Style, we judged the cocktails based on their use of “traditional” Bloody Mary ingredients, such as horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, etc. Obviously, the flavor profile and the balance of ingredients played a large part in each category.
One of our favorite traditional Marys from Syndicated, a movie theater, bar, and kitchen in Bushwick, ended up taking the top prize in this category! Their “Blood for Dracula” cocktail featured a pretty traditional recipe, with the addition of banana pepper juice and a red chili pepper paste–both of which gave it a bit of a kick. This Bloody was very memorable, and incredibly drinkable. I went back for seconds (and thirds).
The Travel Bar in Carroll Gardens scored runner up in the traditional category with their “The Well Traveled” Bloody Mary. Made with your typical ingredients, as well as pressed cucumber juice and a toasted three-seed blend (caraway, cumin, and celery seed), as well as a “secret ingredient” that the bartender wouldn’t reveal, this Bloody was very refreshing and went down smooth.
The next category, Best Bloody Mary – Original Style, was scored based on how innovative the recipe was, as well as how creative the ingredients used were. As soon as we took a sip of Lucky Luna’s “Kimchi and Nori Bloody Mary,” I knew they had this in the bag. I was right! They took home the crown in this category, based on their originality and creativity.
Inspired by Mexican and Taiwanese cuisines, the recipe incorporated Sriracha and Valentina hot sauces as well as Maggi seasoning, which is basically a cross between soy sauce and beef bouillon. The drink was garnished with house-made kimchi and a small sheet of nori. It was impressive how Lucky Luna was able to let both Asian and Latin ingredients shine in this dish, and also manage to make it incredibly tasty. I’d definitely make a trip to Greenpoint for another sip of this Bloody!
Park Slope’s Iron Station came in second place in the original category with their “The Jungle” Bloody Mary. While I personally loved their garnishes of candied bacon and candied soppressetta, I didn’t consider their recipe to be that original. The only thing special about it was that the vodka was bacon-infused; I was somewhat surprised when they were announced as runner up in this category.
Last but not least, the People’s Choice for Best Bloody Mary! Attendees were voting for this category throughout the event, and Iron Station and Catfish, a New Orleans-style restaurant in Crown Heights, were neck-in-neck all afternoon. Iron Station ended up taking this category, while Catfish came in second.
Catfish’s Bloody Mary also featured bacon-infused vodka, but they also incorporated the spirit of the Big Easy into their cocktail with an Abita stout float. I really enjoyed this concept, as it gave the Bloody a bit more body and added some fizz.
In addition to Bloodys, the festival provided patrons with a variety of food and options to level out our alcohol intake. Our favorites included an assortment of cheese from Cypress Grove, and a mini fried chicken sandwich with kimchi slaw from Better Half, a local Brooklyn restaurant.
The Bloody Mary Festival is a traveling event – next up is Washington, D.C. on May 7th. Get your tickets here!