Jun 11, 2013

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Bloody Mary Showdown: Seattle

IMG_6924With another cerulean blue sky as the back drop along the shoreline of the Puget Sound in downtown Seattle, I can’t help but think to myself,  “does it really ever rain in Seattle?”  Over the past week, I’ve spent 4 days in Seattle (on the front and back end of the Wine Bloggers Conference in Canada), and every day has started and ended with ideal temperatures, a light breeze and a to-die-for blue sky.

Regardless of this possibly rare weather pattern in an area known to average around 36 inches of rain fall, no rain could ever stop me from absolutely loving this vibrant, friendly and spectacular city.

When fellow wine writer and friend Michele Haid of Winehooch.com asked me if I was going to the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference, I wasn’t sure whether or not I would attend.  With its location being in Penticton, Canada (with a focus on the wines of British Columbia), travel and lodging costs were simply out of reach; however, Michele’s simple offer to share a room at the conference quickly turned into a #WineGirlsGetaway.  From Seattle, we went to the beautiful Lake Chelan Wine Valley in Washington, then to Penticton and Vancouver, British Columbia, and ending our trip back in Seattle with just a few hours before departing for home – we had a ball.

IMG_6976One of my favorite days from the entire #WineGirlsGetaway was the very last day – spent in pursuit of the ultimate Seattle Bloody Mary.  We called it The Bloody Mary Showdown in Seattle. With just a few postings on our social media outlets about needing some suggestions on where to go for a Bloody Mary in Seattle, in no time at all we had many responses and suggestions on where to go to find Seattle’s best.  There were four establishments we were able to squeeze-in within just a few hours time: The Lodge Sports Grille, Cutters Crab House, Lowell’s and The Brave Horse Tavern.

Instead of simply stating which Bloody Marys we liked best, we decided we would use a not-so complicated algorithm system we call The Olive System. The more olives the better (which should always be the case), and we judged the appearance, garnishes, and flavor of each Bloody Mary by using a 1 to 5 olives/points system. A 1 Olive rating is not so great, but a 5 Olive Rating is spectacular. We then averaged out the total number of Olives dividing by 3 and rounded up to reach the final Olive rating.

IMG_7549Because we had just taken the train from Vancouver (a story in itself), we dropped into The Lodge Sports Grille first, which was literally steps from Seattle’s King Street Amtrak Station. Lodge-like in decor, complete with a river rock fireplace and natural wood walls, the ambiance was comfortable and inviting. We sat down at the bar, which was a long piece of unmanipulated, gorgeous Mahogany wood and ordered a couple Bloody Mary’s.  Arriving in tall, thin glasses and a toothpick filled with goodies from one end to the other, we were excited for the first sip.  The rim was salted with celery salt and the goodies included a pepperoncini, a plum tomato, small slice of bacon, a green olive and a chunk of cheese – and loads of hot sauce.  I referenced this Bloody Mary as a ‘super spicy hot shot.’

APPEARANCE: 4 Olives
GARNISHES: 4 Olives
FLAVORS: 3 Olives
RATING: 3.7 Olives

IMG_7558After we finished our first round of Bloody Marys, we caught a cab to our next destination: Cutters Crabhouse.  Located right on the Puget Sound, this stylish restaurant has a gorgeous view of the water and mountains beyond.  Super mellow in spiciness and served up in a tall, thin glass, a cooling sensation was a welcome characteristic after the ‘super spicy hot shot’ from The Lodge.  Garnishes on a toothpick included a pepperoncini, grape tomato, green olive and a wedge of lime.

APEARANCE: 3 Olives
GARNISHES: 2 Olives
FLAVORS: 1 Olive
RATING: 2 Olives

From Cutters, we walked about a block to the world-famous Pike Place Market.  Inside Pike Place Market is Lowell’s, who proudly announces their place as being, “almost classy since 1957.”  The rustic bar, which instantly conjured up images of old salty sea dogs downing shots of rum, is on the second floor and overlooks the beautiful Puget Sound.  Lowell’s infuses their own vodka – bacon vodka.  Although they had an array of different Bloody Mary’s to choose from, there was no way I was going to pass up trying some bacon infused vodka –  used in what they call the Hangtown Mary. With just a pickled green bean, an olive and a wedge of lime, it was definitely lacking in the goody department, but the flavors were excellent.

IMG_7582APPEARANCE: 2 Olives
GARNISHES: 1 Olive
FLAVORS: 4 Olives
RATING: 2.3 Olives

Although we had wanted to visit five bars total, we were running out of time – I had a train to board that would bring me home to Eugene, and Michele had to get to the airport for her night flight back to Florida.  We hailed a cab and headed for our final Bloody Mary stop: The Brave Horse Tavern.  Located on the second floor (above another restaurant) in an urban neighborhood, the Brave Horse had a rustic, western theme.  Hardwood floors, high ceilings and countrified wood-planked and exposed brick walls created a comfortable, kick-back environment.  Matt, the bartender, was quick to make our drinks and super friendly to talk with.  As soon as Matt placed the Bloody Marys in front of us, I knew we were in for a treat.  The salted rim had flecks of green, which Matt explained was Jalapeno shavings.  I could see bits of horseradish floating throughout the drink, and the overall reddish-orange coloring was vivid and mouthwatering.  Garnishes included pickled asparagus spear, pickled green bean, one cocktail onion and one large green olive.  Alongside this ultimate Bloody Mary was a pale ale, used for neutralizing the spices in the drink.  At first sip, flavors of rosemary, thyme, celery salt, horseradish and more coated the mouth.  Spices were to perfection without being weak or too hot – simply the best Bloody Mary I had ever tried.  Matt was happy to share the entire list of ingredients used to create their ultimate house made Bloody Mary mix: A-1 Steak Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce; fresh rosemary, thyme, cilantro, garlic, shallots, chives, Tobasco, fresh cracked pepper and celery salt.  It was AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS.

Brave Horse Bloody Marys

The Ultimate Bloody Mary – Brave Horse Tavern, Seattle. Ask for Matt.

APPEARANCE: 5 Olives
GARNISHES: 5 Olives
FLAVORS: 5 Olives
RATING: 5 Olives

Clearly, our mission to find Seattle’s ultimate Bloody Mary ended with our discovery at the Brave Horse Tavern – I can’t imagine anyone being able to top the savory and down-right delicious flavors that super-star bartender Matt put together for us.  What a stellar way to spend a few hours in what I believe to be one of the best cities in the Unites States.  Seattle is an over-the-top awesome city.

Visit The Brave Horse Tavern at 310 Terry Avenue North, South Lake Union, Seattle. bravehorsetavern.com. Follow me over to Michele’s website for her Olive Ratings on these same Bloody Marys!! Winehooch.com/bloodymaryshowdown.

Thanks to Jon Staenberg of Hand of God Wines (the best Malbec of all time) for the Brave Horse Tavern suggestion.  Kudos also to my Facebook pal Robbin Freedman for the Lowell’s suggestion; as well as, Michele’s friend Jim Frisch for recommending Cutters and Billy Whelan of Seattle’s Paddy Coyne’s Irish Pub (love this place, a must visit when in Seattle) for suggesting The Lodge.  Cheers all.