When I was a kid, during the holidays, my parents would let me try drinking the grown-up drinks: a glass of wine (Mom), a screwdriver (Dad), or Bud or Miller Lite, (uncles and dad’s friends). I’d undoubtedly turn my nose up to it, and the old people would say, “It’s an acquired taste.” That sounded like too much work, but they were right. The best way to acquire a taste for alcohol is to drink a lot of it. In the words of Frank from “Old School,” “Once it hits your lips, it’s so good.”
And I found this to be true for most alcohol, most of my life. There were some exceptions that needed strong mixers or chasers, and some that always needed a lime, but there was the one drink that, no matter how many times I tried it, no matter how many additions or subtractions I made, I couldn’t acquire a taste for: The bloody mary.
I kept trying and trying, but it was never for me and I always wanted to like it, I wanted to fit in, but I never got it. Why would anyone like a drink with tomato and pepper and horseradish and Worcestershire sauce? It sounds more like a recipe for roast beef than a delicious cocktail. But I never gave up and finally had the epiphany one fateful and dreadful morning: my first full-blown apocalyptic hangover.
It was a Christmas break, and the day before, I had another first – a little dabble with psychedelic drugs – and had come down by drinking copious amounts of alcohol. I woke up in a hurt locker so intense that I couldn’t imagine living with that kind of pain. I’m pretty sure I Googled whether a hangover could be fatal. To escape the seemingly perpetual shame and agony, I walked with a friend to an extremely close hotel bar where another friend was bartending. We had bloody marys, and because my still-dead taste buds couldn’t tell if I was drinking a vodka drink or sipping soup, I put it down easily and wanted another. After the second, I felt awesome and needed a third. The savory, salty deliciousness had won me over and cured my illness.
If you have never liked a bloody mary but want to, this is how I would acquire the taste:
1. Wake up drunk. This is important. You need to be in enough pain that you’ll do anything to make it go away. Desperation is key. Like winning at anything, you have to want it.
2. Start drinking bloody marys as soon as you can. Don’t wait till you eat a little or till you feel a little better. If you need food, eat the celery. And drink it faster if you want to feel better.
3. Get it with everything. The more shit they put in it the better. Don’t like celery or olives? You’ll eat those if you hurt bad enough.
4. Try it with the straw and without. Sometimes it’s a little spicier on the bottom, sometimes the vodka floats a little more on the top. Finding that balance is key.
5. Drink enough to get drunk again. You’re happier when you’ve got a solid buzz and so you’ll like anything that’s happening if you’ve got a few in you.
So where in Durango do you get a bomb bloody mary? My favorite is J-Bo’s Football Brunch Bloody. I’m sure they’ll make a fine bloody any other day, but on Sundays during football season, the bloody comes with a link of sausage and all the football you can handle.
I often go to Carver’s as well, and their Deluxe Bloody is definitely a close second. With a strip of bacon and a sidecar of beer, it’s definitely an awesome brunch drink.
Another great spot downtown is El Moro. (Can I write about cocktails without mentioning El Moro?) With five bloodys on their brunch cocktail menu, there is surely something for everyone. Bartender Sara Moxam recommends the Bloody Maria, a bloody made with tequila and jalapeño hot sauce.
Not the most spectacular bloody with all the fancy toppings, nor the most extravagant environs, but my favorite place to drink a bloody is El Rancho. Watching Aimee, Paul, Andrew, Angie or Beach line up 20 or 30 bloody marys on the rail of the overly-crowded bar is definitely a beautiful sight. The best part is, all my friends are always there.
Robert Alan Wendeborn puts the bubbles in the beer at Ska Brewing Co. His first book of poetry, The Blank Target, was published this past spring by The Lettered Streets Press and is available at Maria’s Bookshop. [email protected]