photo by Caitlin Abrams, description and additional garnishes below
Any pro brunch-er knows that while the vodka and Bloody Mary mix are crucial, the garnish is really what makes or breaks your breakfast libation. As Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s dining team has noted in this month’s Brunch package, you can really open eyes with the housemade Bloodys at our Cities’ best brunch spots. (Garnished with mini-donuts, housemade siracha, and Guiness beer, just to name a few.)
Hell’s Kitchen knows what’s up—their “Jacked Up” Bloody Mary bar (which spans an entire hallway) lets you go to town DIY-style with impressive array of garnishes, including 247 types of hot sauce.
Below are bar manager Jessica Cody’s tips for recreating a mind-blowing Bloody bar at home (on a smaller scale, of course).
Your number one priority, says Cody. Coarse salt mixed with celery salt and black pepper is a go-to rim, but Hell’s Kitchen kicks it up a notch. “Our house Bloody is rimmed with our dry rib rub [paprika, black pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, brown sugar and cayenne],” she says. “At the Bloody bar we offer a jalapeno salt for the rim that is quite tasty.” Whip it up at home by mixing coarse salt and jalapenos in a food processor. Then spread the salt on a sheet pan and toast it in a low oven for about 20 minutes to dry it out and seal in the flavor.
Skewers + Spiciness
While you probably don’t need to go the 247-hot-sauce route at home, options are key. “Pickled vegetables are a good way to do this,” she says. “At Hell's we keep pickled asparagus, mushrooms, pickle spears, bleu cheese-stuffed olives, baby corn and several varieties of pickled peppers.”
The balance between savory and spicy is important when you’re curating your garnishes, even if your drink isn’t, as Cody puts it, “blow-your-face-off spicy.” If you’re working with a non-spicy Bloody mix, offer some hot sauces and spicier garnishes like pepper jack cheese to amp things up a bit. Is your Bloody already pretty hot? In that case she recommends offering creamy, mild cheeses (like provolone or white cheddar), celery sticks and vinegary pickled things. Another must-have for Cody is beef sticks; they’re tall enough to stick out of the glass and come in a variety of flavors.
Don’t Forget the Beer!
A beer snit served on the side—preferably a mild, domestic local lager like Grainbelt—is a lovely Minnesotan touch that will help offset the heat as well.
And if you’re worried about going overboard, don’t be. “At Hell’s Kitchen, too much is never enough,” she says. “I've seen guests exit the Bloody bar with drinks so big they have to carry it with two hands. You wonder how they'll ever have room to eat their brunch.”
For the at-home host or hostess, maybe the Bloody Mary Bar is your brunch. Now that would be eye-opening.
+ ACCOUTREMENTS FROM SURDYK'S
The experts at Surdyk’s have a few additional accoutrement recommendations to make your bloody bar better.
Referent Horseradish: A limited-distribution vodka with a spicy horseradish kick.
Absolut Chicago: A limited-edition vodka that has olive and rosemary flavors.