There is a reason people love brunch on the weekends. It is a nice, long, leisurely meal with friends and family. All of the best food options are there, from Eggs Benedict to thick burgers, Belgian waffles to savory paninis, every food option you can think of is available. To top it all off, it is perfectly acceptable to have a few cocktails with the meal, either as a way to kick off the day or to shake off the night before. Brunch is not a meal as much as it is an event, and one of the long running stars of brunch is the classic Bloody Mary. It is a hearty cocktail to anchor this event. Much like brunch it is delicious, flexible, and has benefits that go beyond the obvious.
The concept of a hearty, late morning meal started in Britain with hunters and traveled to the United States in the early 20th century. While Hollywood and New York had a role in popularizing a late morning meal, it was really Chicago where the idea of brunch in the U.S. caught on. Transcontinental flights were not popular yet, making trains the most convenient way to get from coast to coast. Chicago was where you stopped in between on the long journey to refresh and relax for a little while. Movie stars and business men stopped and enjoyed this mid-morning meal. The iconic Pump Room was one of the big players in the early days of the brunch movement, hosting many of the stars of the day. As the new meal built steam over the decades, it became a substitute for Sunday dinner as women entered the workplace. They had to get ready for Monday morning too, and wanted some time on Sunday night to rest. Brunch became a social ritual to replace that dinner.
Brunch is a blend of breakfast and lunch, coined by Guy Beringer in Hunter’s Weekly, a short lived hunting magazine. Fruit juice is just good is popular to have with breakfast, and society deems lunch as a fine time to start drinking lighter beverages like wines and beers. If you are going to combine the two meals, why not start combining their drinks! It makes a mimosa or a Bellini a perfect selection for a brunch treat. They add a little bit of fruit juice (or puree) to the traditional wine the British drank with their brunches. Those were well known cocktails in the 1940’s and 50’s, when brunch was becoming better known in society, but not as popular as a new star on the scene: The Bloody Mary. The fruit-juice-and-alcohol combination is there, but the proportions are flipped. That is not just good for a brunch cocktail, it is good for a hungover brunch patron.
Despite any debates, the tomato is a fruit. Tomatoes are an excellent way to fight a hangover as well. When you are hungover, you are dehydrated and hurting for vitamins. You liver is unhappy because it is busy trying to get glucose to the brain, but first it has to get rid of all the toxins you just put in your body. Tomato juice to the rescue! Tomatoes help in the rehydration process, considering they are mainly water. Being hydrated helps the body process what happened after you hit the third bar and thought shots were a good idea. They also add sugar back to the body, helping replenish the glucose stores the liver has been burning through. If you believe a little hair of the dog helps the next day, the low levels of vodka in the drink can will help tame the bite. There is a little something of everything in a Bloody Mary.
Everyone has the best Bloody Mary. Everyone. At least, that is what they are going to tell you when they ask. The concept behind the cocktail is simple: tomato juice with a kick. The liquor is there to showcase the flavors you are building in some way. The spirit can be able to enhance the flavors you are adding to the juice, or is a blank canvas that gives some punch at the end. In this modern world, the range of what you can do with the tomato juice is boundless. As food culture expands to find new dishes and spices from every corner of the world, they are all ending up as experimental ingredients in a Bloody Mary. A Chicago style hot dog Bloody Mary? Maybe one inspired by the favors of the Mediterranean Ocean? Maybe some other fruits in your Bloody Mary mix? The possibilities are endless. And then there are the garnishes. Everything from a simple celery stick or olives to, well, this. The Bloody Mary is open to interpretation. And that is something to be celebrated.
And celebrate it we will! On October 11, join Dayton Most Metro, Lion and Panda, and some of the best bartenders in the city for a Bloody Mary Showdown at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. From 11am to 2pm, our mixologist contestants will be preparing their most unique versions of this brunch staple for you to sample. Brunch itself will be provided by Chef Matt Hayden and Meals from Scratch. The spirited base will be provided by American Harvest vodka, who is sponsoring Masqerage. Proceeds will go to help ARC Ohio and their fight to educate people on HIV, and provide help to those wrestling with it. It is open to everyone to show off their talents in adding the right blend of spices to make the perfectly balanced Bloody Mary. Sleep in a few hours on Saturday, then enjoy a delicious meal with the people that are close to you. Or come in and find a cure for the common hangover. Either way, we look forward to seeing to there!