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Bloody Mary Festival, happening at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Sunday, May 3rd. After being fascinated by the history of the Bloody Mary in The Antidote & The Poison, it was time to taste this timeless drink. We decided to make a day of it, hitting some of our favorite spots including Datz. Roux Tampa, Boca Kitchen Bar and Market and Élevage at the Epicurean Hotel. We started our Bloody Mary Marathon at Datz. Joined by the fabulous Carlyn of Off the Sidewalk fame, her husband Bill, and my friend, 13th Circuit, Group 24, Judicial Court Candidate Melissa Polo, we had some decisions to make right off the bat. Our Datz Bloody Crew, this is South Tampa so of course we ran into our friend Janee! The "Datz-A-Mary" is made with Tito's Vodka, Nueske's Bacon, celery & Salish Alder Smoked Sea Salt with an option to upgrade to Hanger One Chipolte Vodka, Square One Basil Vodka, or Effen Cucumber Vodka. We decided to go for one of each. Let's just say we were in Bloody Nirvana when they arrived. Our Quartet of Bloody's! Garnished with the New Orleans classic picked green bean, a celery stalk, a salted rim, and the bacon, oh the bacon! A thick, juicy slice not simply submerged in the Bloody but anchored by a crunchy sweet pepper. Awesomeness! Now this is a garnish!
I was surprised how the different flavor profiles shined in each Bloody we imbibed. I, of course, loved the spice and smokiness of the Hangar One Chipolte Vodka and the Effen Cucumber Vodka was a refreshing sip after all that spice. The Square One Basil Vodka was a hit and had a few at our table saying, one more please!You Can Never Go Wrong with a Plate Full of Bacon
The atmosphere at Datz is lively and fun. They play great tunes and if you don't come with friends you'll definitely walk out of there with new ones. We literally had to force ourselves to leave but as Captain I proclaimed, the tour must go on! Unfortunately, Carlyn and Bill had to depart so Missy and I continued down to Roux. Roux is part of the Datz family but offers a different, more upscale, more New Orleansly atmosphere. Since Missy and I lived in New Orleans together, we couldn't wait for that little NOLA touch. We didn't have to wait long as we could hear the New Orleans jazz playing as soon as we parked the car. We danced through the door and bellied up to the bar ready for stop number two. The Roux Bloody Mary is very unique. It contains Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka house infused with chipolte, Zing Zang spicy mix, lemon, Cajun spice, and cocktail shrimp. I fell in love with Kaffir Lime while living in Southeast Asia and, of course, everything is better with a little Zing Zang. Served in a short glass, the Kaffir Lime shines and is balanced perfectly with the smokiness from the chipolte and the spice from the Zing Zang. Since women can't live on Bloody's alone, we had a bite to eat. I chose Eggs Sardou and wasn't disappointed with this classic New Orleans dish. I also got to taste a bit of Missy's Gumbo which was delish. Eggs Sardou: artichoke heart. creamed spinach. poached egg. hollandaise. Before boogying down to Boca, we spotted our Twitter friend @AnnaMTampa enjoying her Roux Bloody and gave her tickets to the Fest. See you there, Bloody Buddy! Even though we were running a bit late, Boca greeted us with open arms and had Bloody's on the bar in no time. Their standard Bloody Mary is garnished with a cherry tomato, slice of lime, an olive, and a thick slice of bacon. It was good but what got us really excited was the special Bloody the bartender mixed up, just for us! A hybrid between a Bloody Mary and a Bloody Maria, it contained vodka, tequila, lemon, lime, Cholula, bacon, and fresh basil from their living wall. It was delicious, especially paired with their Flatbread of the day. We hope this Bloody makes it to the Fest! Still standing, we were off to our fourth and final stop, Élevage at the beautiful Epicurean Hotel. The name says it all. Élevage is elevated. After a day filled with bacon, Élevage presented us with a surprising and delightfully elevated twist, pastrami smoked salmon. Now, this may sound a little strange but accompanied with their distinctively crafted Bloody, we think it's a hit! Here's a pic: In typical Bern's fashion, we learned from Patrick, the Assistant Manager, it took Élevage over a year to perfect their Bloody Mary recipe and we're gonna let you in on their little secret. Élevage infuses Tito's Vodka with jalapeno's, garlic, black peppercorns and cilantro for a full 7 days, mixes it with a secret concoction, and then garnishes with the pastrami rubbed salmon and pickled cucumber. Perfection! We really loved Élevage. The bar is very modern and elegant but comfortable and uniquely casual at the same time. With large picture windows, two living herb gardens, and plenty of seating surrounded by reclaimed wood from an 1800's bourbon distillery, we didn't want to leave! By now, the dinner bell was ringing and we were a little bloddied out. And of course the Bloody Mary is not an evening drink. According to Liquor.com, "those who consume it after the sun has set possess personality defects and are to be avoided". We decided to save our Bloody Mary strength for the other restaurants participating in the Bloody Mary Festival including Ferg's Live, Carmel Cafe, James Joyce Irish Pub, Acropolis Greek Taverna, Irish 31, Sono Cafe, Paddywagon Irish Pub, CATRINAS COCINA Y GALERIA, and Ella's Americana Folk Art Cafe. We hear Ella's garnishes their Bloody with a hickory smoked pork rib, wowzers! We had a ton of fun on our Bloody Mary tour and want to thank Datz, Roux Tampa, Boca Kitchen Bar and Market, and Élevage from the bottom of our Bloody Mary hearts for an awesome Sunday Bloody Sunday. We'll see you all next Sunday at the Tampa Bay Bloody Mary Festival! For tickets and more information about the Tampa Bay Bloody Mary Festival, visit tampabloodymaryfest.com.