My Top 5 Bloody Marys

bloodymarybasicsThere are few things that are more satisfying on a lazy Sunday morning than a great Bloody Mary.  But, as we who enjoy them can agree, not all Bloody Marys are created equal.

Personally I like mine to not be so spicy as to rip my throat off as I swallow, or sting it so bad that I can’t enjoy more than the first sip or two.  I like a lot of flavor and really enjoy the presentation of a pretty AND tasty drink.

I also enjoy a little variety.  My favorites have featured chunks of crab amongst crisp, tall vegetables; entire lobster claws; thick strips of crispy bacon; antipasto on a skewer (tomato/mozzarella/basil/salami);  and crispy, fresh vegetables to munch while sipping a perfectly spiced drink.

My Top 5 Bloody Marys:

  1. The Crab House on Pier 39 – San Francisco, CA
  2. Lobster Me at The Palazzo in The Venetian – Las Vegas, NV
  3. Paul Martin’s – Irvine, CA
  4. Olive Garden – Santa Ana, CA (Mainplace Mall)
  5. The Signal Lounge – Orange, CA

After stumbling across a picture of a giant fried WHOLE CHICKEN hanging out of a giant Bloody Mary I decided that I need a list of places to visit just for my favorite Sunday morning cocktail!

Although I’ve been to Milwaukee before, somehow I managed to miss Sobelman’s Pub & Grill and their menu of “Beast” Bloody Marys.

My mouth waters thinking about their 80+ oz concoctions that are meant to be shared by at least 4 people.


The Chicken Fried:  $50 and topped with a whole fried 4 pound chicken from Ray’s Butcher Shop in Greenfield.  That is one intimidating presentation!  It’s a drink for a cause though!  During the last 4 months of 2014, for every Chicken Fried sold, the owners of Sobelman’s donated $5 to Milwaukee’s Hunger Task Force.

abc_heeseburger_bloodymary_jp_121212_msCheeseburger Bloody Mary:  Features a scallion, a stalk of celery, a colby cheese wedge, a Polish sausage, a pickled mushroom, onion & brussel sprout, a pickle & olive, a shrimp, cherry tomato & lemon wedge, a spear of asparagus and a bacon cheeseburger slider.

2012-08-30-bacon-thumbAnother Bloody Mary that is definitely on the “Must Try List” is this 32 ounce monster from The Nook in AtlantaThe Bloody Best:  8 oz. of Absolut Peppar vodka mixed with a special Bloody Mary mix, garnished with pepperoncinis, jalapenos, Tater Tots, steak, a slice of toast, a hard-boiled egg and you drink it through a straw made of meat!

The list is in its infancy and recommendations from enthusiastic Bloody Mary adventurers are welcomed.

On the flip side, I know that there are those who only partake to quiet the ache in their head and swirling of their bellies after a night of over indulgence, to that end, Smirnoff shares their basic recipe for a pitcher of basic Bloody Marys:

  • 9 oz Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
  • Tomato juice
  • 1 Lime juiced
  • 1 Lemon juiced
  • 4 tsp Hot sauce
  • 2 tbs Horseradish
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Celery salt
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 Lime wedge

Blend all ingredients except vodka. Pour into pitcher. Rub lemon or lime wedge around the rim of highball glasses and then roll glass in celery salt and add ice cubes. Fill glass 1/3 with vodka & top off with Bloody Mary mix. Serves 10.

Time for this girl to head to bed so I can wake up and create something somewhere in the middle of these to sip tomorrow!

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Lunch at Brio Tuscan Grille

brio-3-color-logoI love business lunches and today’s was one of the best I’ve had in quite a while!

Because I could make a reservation ahead of time (and earn more points toward free dining) using my OpenTable App, I tried a restaurant that I’ve never been to before, Brio Tuscan Grille in the Irvine Spectrum entertainment, shopping and dining center in Irvine, CA.

The restaurant was a great choice because they are located near the valet, on the outside edge of the center, have a wide variety of  foods to choose from, a daily chef’s choice menu, a gluten free menu, as well as a selection of lighter Italian dishes so we all could enjoy our meals completely.

I started with a glass of Zig Zag Zinfandel to toast the partnership we were celebrating.  The nose was a warm welcoming plum with a touch of vanilla.  The body and flavor were bold but not too overpowering for my lunch selections.

I was a really good girl and stayed away from the bread basket that taunted me with the intoxicating scent of warm sourdough baguettes, breadsticks and cheese crisps.

My first course was the 150 Calorie Chopped Salad.  I only ate half of it, but I loved the lightness of the chopped greens, cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, Feta cheese and lightly dressed with Italian vinaigrette.  I didn’t want to overeat, having ordered the main course off of the Light Menu that our waiter highly recommended:  Shrimp Mediterranean.

I devoured every last morsel!  Atop a bed of orzo farro pilaf, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, plum tomatoes, and Feta cheese lay 5 perfectly grilled large shrimp that were drizzled with a delicious pesto vinaigrette.  Magnifico!!

At 470 calories with 17 grams of fat, 43 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fiber and a whopping 35 grams of protein, I was satisfied, but not uncomfortably full.

Others I dined with ate from the light menu (Grilled Salmon Fresca) and the gluten free menu (Pasta Brio) and gave very enthusiastic thumbs up reviews to their choices.

A well deserved shout out to the bartender is in order as well.  One of my companions ordered the Raspberry Mojito.  The drink was beautiful and the raspberries that were skewered atop the drink were huge, ripe and delicious (I got to eat the fruit!),

If you have a Brio Tuscan Grille near you, it is definitely worth a visit.   Lunch for 4 with 3 of us having 1 drink plus iced tea all around came to $162.  Not a lunch for those dining on a budget to be sure, and I would expect dinner to be half again as much per person, but certainly worth a splurge when dining for a special occasion or if you are looking to impress someone with great food, great service and a fun atmosphere.  One drawback is that the high ceilings and echo off of the hard surfaces make the restaurant quite loud during it’s busiest hours.

2014_brio_nkh_fb_cover_image_v2Another definite plus for dining at Brio Tuscan Grill is their participation in and support of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in America.  Their Founding Chef Phil Yandolino and the entire Bravo-Brio Restaurant Chain participate in this very important charitable organization.  You can follow #TeamNKH on Twitter @nokidhungry.  For a list of restaurants participating in September #dineout month in support of No Kid Hungry visit

Not only did I enjoy a great meal, but I contributed to the cause! #TeamNKH

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