Bartender Jean Jacobsen prepares a bloody mary at Riley’s Brew Pub in Clovis. The drink includes a garnish of bacon, a chicken wing, olive, cheese cube, onion and pepperoncini. CRAIG KOHLRUSSCKOHLRUSS@FRESNOBEE.COM
A bloody mary with a stalk of celery plopped in it is so old school.
Today’s bloody mary is a rock star, piled high with so many garnishes that it’s more like an appetizer – or a meal – than a drink. The most outrageousoneson the internet are topped with grilled cheese sandwiches, nachos, soft pretzels, even a personal-sized pizza.
Though the bloody mary has been around forever, seemingly, the cocktail has become even more popular in recent months. Restaurants in Fresno and Clovis are adding their own twist on the classic tomato juice and vodka drink. And it’s becoming a regular on brunch menus along with the other cocktail it’s acceptable to drink in the mornings, the mimosa.
You can drink a bloody mary anytime, of course. Fresno-area restaurants are topping them with diverse garnishes such as hotlink sausages, chicken wings, bacon and more. Here’s what five local restaurants are doing.
1. Riley’s Brew Pub. The brew pub that opened in Clovis last year tops its bloody mary with all kinds of munchies: A savory, dry-seasoned chicken wing, a slice of spicy-sweet bacon prepared with brown sugar each morning, an olive, onion, cheese cube and a pepperoncini, the mildly spicy light green pepper.
The bloody mary at Riley’s Brew Pub in Clovis includes a garnish of bacon, a chicken wing, olive, cheese cube, onion and pepperoncini. Bartender Jean Jacobsen prepared this one on Aug. 30.
CRAIG KOHLRUSS firstname.lastname@example.org
Order one of these babies at Riley’s and you’ll get the whole dining room’s attention – and inspire more people to order one too, said bartender Jean Jacobsen.
“I would definitely say it is a crowd-pleaser,” she said. “If one goes out, everyone in the restaurant is like, ‘What is that?’ and then we have to make a bunch of them.”
3. Uncle Buddy’s Smokehouse N Grillin Old Town Clovis. This restaurant’s liquor license only allows it to serve beer and wine, so the staff had to get creative. The result is something called a red beer that’s similar to a michelada. It’s a Mexican beer (usually a Corona, sometimes a Modelo) mixed with Clamato juice (tomato and clam), Worcestershire sauce and a few other spicy ingredients.
Uncle Buddy’s Smokehouse N Grill in Clovis can only serve beer and wine with its liquor license, so they created the next best thing to a bloody mary. Dubbed a “red beer,” the drink uses a Mexican beer and Clamato juice, topped with almost a whole meal. Some versions include fried okra and onion rings.
Uncle Buddy’s Smokehouse N Grill
But the kicker is what comes on top: A hot link sausage, onion rings, a mozzarella stick, chicken wing, celery, a jalapeño-stuffed olive, a bit of green onion, pepperoncini, lemon and lime slices and little pieces of fried okra.
4. Elbow Room. A sister restaurant to Riley’s, Elbow Room decided to up its game when they saw how well bloody marys were doing at Riley’s. The Elbow Room version is made with the restaurant’s own bloody mary mix and topped with candied bacon, olives, onion and a pepper.
“We serve it in those big giant chalices,” said general manager Liz Noble.
You can buy a bloody mary anytime, but the drinks sell like hot cakes during Elbow Room’s weekend brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Saturday and Sunday morning, it’s crazy,” Noble said. “It’s like no one can drink anything else.”
Details: 731 W. San Jose Ave., Fig Garden Village, Fresno. 559-227-1234.
5. The PressBox Sports Grill. Last year, the PressBox put a tiny burger slider atop its bloody mary for football season. This season, they’ve swapped in a chicken wing on the drink, along with a dill pickle spear, cucumber, bacon, lemon, lime, green olives, pepperoncini, cocktail onions and celery.
The drink, made with their housemade bloody mary mix, is available any time at any of the PressBox’s three locations. But the bloody mary is expected to be a big seller at the newest PressBox at Champlain Drive and Shepherd Avenue, which hosts a Sunday morning football brunch.
Customers can watch the game and pair the drink with a “quarterback breakfast burrito,” granola crusted French toast, or other brunch options from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. during football season.