These Bloody Marys aren’t your grandma’s cocktail.
Topped with garnishes like dumplings, tortilla chips and pickled okra, some unorthodox variations on the classic tomato juice and vodka drink will intoxicate New Yorkers at the city’s fifth annual Bloody Mary Festival this April.
This year’s celebration of the quintessential brunch drink typically served with a celery stick takes place at Grand Prospect Hall (that Brooklyn venue of kitschy commercial fame) on Sunday, April 8. A ticket priced at $50 covers tastes of Bloody Marys from notable area restaurants and bars like Amanda Cohen’s vegetable-centric Dirt Candy, Greenpoint seafood shack Lobster Joint, hip Alphabet City bar Loverboy and the Lower East Side’s new Lebanese spot, Lil’ Gem, and a vote for the cocktail that wins the “People’s Choice Award.”
Attendees admitted for one of two two-and-a-half-hour sessions will also enjoy access to a “bagel & cheese station,” bites from local shops like Jomart Chocolates and Brooklyn Whatever, non-alcoholic drinks from Brooklyn-based Pilot Kombucha and live music by the reggae fusion band Blue Dahlia.
The Bloody Mary Festival, which was born in New York City in 2014 but has since expanded to 10 cities around the U.S., is the brainchild of husband and wife team Evan and Yunna Weiss. The Park Slope couple who ultimately left their corporate jobs to manage the event full-time originally considering bottling the mix from Evan’s “amazing homemade Bloody Mary recipe,” says Yunna Weiss, 33. Ultimately, they “expressed [their] love” by launching a festival dedicated to the cocktail with origins some trace back to a mixologist at the St. Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar in 1934.
What makes the Bloody Mary such an exceptional boozy drink, worthy of its own daylong event?
“The Bloody Mary is the only brunch cocktail that can be made in so many different variations: the options for ingredients, flavors and garnishes are endless,” Yunna Weiss says. “There are really no limits to what can make an amazing Bloody Mary.”
But there are, however, ways to rank them. It will be up to a panel of judges, including a local Instagrammer who goes by the handle @bloodygoodlife, to name a winner in the “Best Bloody Mary in NYC” competition at April’s festival. (Last year, Lobster Joint took home the distinction of “Best Traditional Bloody Mary,” and Gowanus eatery A&E Supply snagged first place in the “Best Original Bloody Mary” category.)
Tickets for the festivals in Nashville and Twin Cities are already sold out, so we recommend jumping on yours here before, rather than after, your weekend bender.