Full disclosure- we have a long line of Hoosier’s in our family so right off the bat, we were in love with the Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary Maker brand.

Hoosier Momma is an all around, solid Bloody Mary mix. We Local Tasters kicked back with all three varietals-

  • The Original
  • Spicy
  • and Sriracha

We tend to lean toward the classics here at Local Taste and we all agreed that the original was our favorite. One taster used the word ‘delightfully tangy’ to describe it. While another cited, ‘It has a heat that lingers and tickles the back of your throat in all the right ways!’

We all agreed in describing the consistency as medium-thick and that it is generously seasoned. All good things by our account.

We were thrilled to include Hoosier Momma mix in all of our Local Taste basket giveaways and many lucky winners got to enjoy drinking their veggies. After all, Momma says… ‘Drink your veggies™’

Bloody Mary at Lilly's White Plains NY

Lilly’s is one of the newest additions in White Plains, NY and we welcomed them with open arms! In a long line of pretty terrible bars along Mamaroneck Avenue geared towards the Westchester college crowd, Lilly’s finally gave those of us pretending to act like grown ups and seeking a proper cocktail, a place to escape at the end of the work day.

Not long after our first visit to Lilly’s, Westchester magazine featured Lilly’s as a “must try” for brunch, so we knew we had to try it and were happy to head back there and order another Bloody.

This is where we have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is the Breakfast Pizza featured in Westchester Magazine did not disappoint. Aren’t you just drooling looking at this picture?

Brunch at Lilly's in White Plains, NY
The Morning Lilly Pizza features Mozzarella, Fontina, Creme Fraiche, Corned Beef Hash, Truffle Oil and a Fried Egg

The bad news is that their Bloody Marys are inconsistent. Usually this indicates they do not have a solid recipe in place, but this caliber of a restaurant should- especially when offering Brunch on both Saturday and Sundays including a complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa with each Brunch entree- making it a soon to be Brunch hot spot. My hope is that Lilly’s focuses on developing a solid and consistent recipe for their Bloody Mary.

Lilly’s delivered a fantastic Bloody Mary the first time we tried it which was in late June 2015. It was savory- flavored for certain with Worcestershire and we felt the recipe reflected the ambiance of Lilly’s. It was a sophisticated Bloody Mary and echoed the exposed brick and dark red leather featured in the decor. We gave that Bloody Mary a thumbs up.

Brunch at Rye House Port Chester NY

Bloody Mary at Rye House Port Chester NYOur neighborhood has had new joints pop up everywhere over the past few years and trust me when I say- they are all welcome! One of the newer additions in the chain of restaurant openings is Rye House, located on Main Street in downtown Port Chester. They sum it up best in a description found on their website– “Rye House is a place for all times that draws its inspirations from old American commitments to hospitality and ingenuity.”

Rye House is fortunate enough to have Sarah, a very talented mixologist, behind the bar. Sarah’s background in the culinary arts certainly shines through when she is busy making infusions and picklings of all kinds and fresh, unique cocktails. When it comes to Sarah’s Bloody Mary, no two days deliver you the same garnish twice and I absolutely love that. Other bartenders should take note (or take a lesson) from Sarah!

The brunch scene isn’t generating the Sunday Funday crowds just yet, but I have hope.  The bar staff here truly care about making great, fresh cocktails and I have had some really good ones. Plus, I can walk here (if I really needed to!)  I enjoy the music they play and their brunch menu is pretty darn solid, especially the ‘Southern Benediction’ featured below…. it is as good at it looks- I promise! Word on the street is that live music is on its way too and I can’t wait! We have all the components here required for a top notch brunch experience!

SOUTHERN BENEDICTION Poached Eggs, BBQ Brisket & Creole Hollandaise
Poached Eggs, BBQ Brisket & Creole Hollandaise

brunch-mamas-boy-norwalk-ct-21It’s rare. It’s really, really rare to find an establishment in this neck of the woods that does brunch the way brunch is meant to be done. What the heck does that mean? Well, it starts with the food- a place that embraces breakfast and elevates it. It’s accompanied by a lively atmosphere that reminds you that Sunday is a privilege and should be enjoyed. It features live music. That’s right- brunch should always, always, always have live music. If I ruled the universe, (and I hope to one day!) I wouldn’t even let people serve Sunday brunch unless it was accompanied by live music. And, of course, brunch must feature a selection of well made Sunday cocktails- specifically the one, the only- The Bloody Mary.

I was up early last Sunday morning working on some social media for an app I hope to be launching soon and a Twitter post, referencing back to an Instagram pic, of a Lobster Eggs Benedict caught my eye. I clicked on it and discovered it was from a place in South Norwalk, CT- about a 30 minute ride from me. A place I had never heard of- Mama’s Boy. I looked them up to find an amazing menu, live music from 1-4, four types of Bloody Marys to choose from and bottomless mimosas. My interest was now peaked and it inspired the drive to SoNo.

Lobster Eggs Benedict (the dish that caught my eye on Twitter!)
Lobster Eggs Benedict (the dish that caught my eye on Twitter!)

My expectations were low on the drive up. That comes from years of disappointing brunches in this area. Usually the food is either good and the ambiance lacks, or the ambiance is good and the food is somewhere between mediocre and a complete let down. What’s worse? When you want a glass of champagne to sip on while you look over the menu and they serve you something cheap and flat in a white wine glass and then charge you $12.00 for it. That’s how brunch works in this neck of the woods and it stinks.

Mama’s Boy was different. I walked in and immediately knew this was not like any other brunch I have experienced. Southern style food, a remarkable soul band belting out ‘My Girl’ and crossword puzzles curled up in mason jars scattered across the bar. My husband and I hit our cell phones and spread the word- we knew we’d be there for a while and friends slowly trickled in throughout the day. My obsession with the band became awkward at one point because I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. The staff was beyond cheery and the food was exactly what it should be- delicious and Sassy-fying, as I like to say. (One day I should trademark that term…)

After sampling the bacon Bloody Mary and settling into a crossword, I ordered the lobster benedict, since it was a picture of just that which inspired the drive in the first place. I have no regrets about that decision. There was a generous amount of lobster and it was placed atop a grits cake (similar to a hash brown.) This made for a luxurious bit- all you needed was the side of a fork to slice through for perfect bite of benedict, unlike the traditional english muffin that often requires sawing messing up the entire benedict experience. On the side, they served dressed, mixed greens to balance out the meal. The hollandaise sauce could have been slightly more vibrant in flavor, but the texture was spot on and hardly anything to complain about. It was close to perfection by any eggs benedict standards.

If you love Southern Flair, an upbeat environment, live music, and delicious food- it’s worth the drive to Mama’s Boy. (Warning- it’s not ideal for those looking for a quiet or child friendly environment- this place is all about Sunday Funday.)  I challenge the Westchester and Fairfield restaurants to follow suit and get on board the Brunch train. Recently, I have felt a slight change in the wind. More and more establishments seem to be coming out of the woodwork on Sundays offering brunch- as they should! There is a HUGE market for brunch, however it must be brunch done well. So until they do, I know where I’ll be- sitting at the bar at Mama’s Boy sipping on a Bloody Mary, working my way through a crossword, savoring some southern inspired delights, while stopping to clap now and again for the talented band, Night Market.

I wouldn’t say I have a formal bucket list, but I wouldn’t say I don’t either. Sure, I want to sip wine in Spain and eat cheese in the France and many other dreamy desires.  Along with these dreams, believe it or not, having a Bloody Mary at the St. Regis Hotel in NYC has also been on my bucket list for some time now. This is somewhat comical because I live about 40 minutes away from the St. Regis hotel – no bucket list item that is within 40 minutes of accomplishing should still be on anybody’s bucket list!

I am pleased to report I can now cross that item off!  When a business meeting brought Brett and I across the street from the St. Regis, I seized the moment. Our meeting finished up around 4:30 on a Thursday- perfect timing for visiting the location that claimed have invented the Bloody Mary in 1934. The fun fact about this cocktail at the St. Regis is that they call it a ‘Red Snapper’ stating that in the 1930’s, Bloody Mary was considered a vulgar name for the drink.

We cozied up at two seats at the bar and didn’t even look at a cocktail menu. “Two Bloody Mary’s, please,” we ordered without reservation. The bartender didn’t blink and eye and served them up.  We toasted, took some photos and discussed the flavor profile. It offered very simple seasoning, but we liked it well enough. It certainly wasn’t what I would describe as ‘craveable,’ but it was solid enough and I was happy to be sipping on this beverage at it’s claimed birthplace and I was glad Brett was there to enjoy it with me.

This is when I start laughing out loud when I tell this story to friends. We finished up and asked for the check. OK, let’s take a moment and remember that yes, we were in New York City. Yes, we were in Midtown West- a highly affluent area in NYC. And yes, we were at the ‘birthplace’ of the Bloody Mary which happens to be at a very, very high end hotel. Now, would you care to take a guess at how much we paid for two Bloody Mary’s on this particular occasion? There is no way you guessed correctly. The right answer is $58.00 plus tax and tip, bringing our grand total to 68.00. For two cocktails. Yep. That happened.

Ok so as ridiculous as this story is, I’m okay with it. I didn’t go out of my way to get there and in the long run, it’s probably the cheapest ‘bucket list’ item a person can have (I’m certain that trip to the French countryside will cost more than $68 bucks.) Plus, I get to say I’ve done it. Now with all that said, I can guarantee you this- I will not be sipping on a ‘Red Snapper’ at the St. Regis again- or at least not anytime soon!

Hudson House, Nyack NY

Sure, I like Bloody Marys. Well, lets face it- it’s more like a love affair. But the truth is, I rarely have more than one and usually I drink them in the daytime. The flavor of a Bloody Mary is bold and tends to overpower the palate so they don’t go well with many meals, making them less desirable during the dinner hour. However, this evening was a different story.

We had ended up a in Nyack, NY- just over the Tappan Zee bridge which spans over the Hudson river connecting Westchester and Rockland counties- just outside of Manhattan. It’s not far from us- about 20 minutes. We found ourselves at a bustling, higher end establishment called The Hudson House. The gent behind the bar was either obnoxious or highly amusing- I’m still not sure about which. But it was clear by his infused concoctions of Rosemary vodka and Chocolate Rum that he was a quality mixologist. In deciding what to order, I hadn’t considered a Bloody Mary for even a second. We were so impressed with the homemade chocolate rum cocktail  that we sat at the bar and spent our time helping the bartender brainstorm names for it. Our favorite, if we do say so ourselves was ‘The Wonka.’ We are still waiting to see if it makes it to the menu.

And then a Bloody Mary went by. After witnessing first hand how much care was put into the cocktails at The Hudson House, and seeing the tantalizing amount of fresh horseradish floating in the cocktail that passed before me… I just had to have one.

The garnish was of the classic nature and it was served in a mason jar, which is always a nice touch.  But really, this Bloody Mary was all about the flavor. And the flavor was spot on. It was, by far, one of the best Bloody Marys I have ever tasted. It tasted fresh and was bursting with high quality horseradish that blended into the drink harmoniously. The consistency was not thin, but it wasn’t too thick. The heat level was just right- some might say it could use more heat, but I disagree. I thought it was perfect and purposeful, allowing the flavors to come through rather than be disguised by Tabasco or hot sauce.

This Bloody Mary left me wanting more. And unlike most establishments, I would bet my money that they care about this house recipe and that it will taste just the same. I have no doubt that Hudson House cocktail creationist, Andrew Barrett, produced this 5 star recipe and cares about the quality control and consistency of delivering that recipe time and time again. Bloody fans everywhere can tell you – this is not usually the case.

I appreciated this Bloody Mary. I enjoyed this Bloody Mary. I will go back over the bridge for this Bloody Mary.