My Bloody Past: The Seafood Connection. Don’t know it? That may be because you’re under 75. Back in the ‘80s my parents never seemed to mind the Boca Raton restaurant’s two-hour wait or the mass of senior snowbirds seeking early dinners there. You see, the Seafood Connection was the epicenter of a local foodie trend: When vacationing in South Florida, one would always dine out on defrosted Maine lobster or Alaskan king crab legs.
The rolls were free, dessert was included with dinner, and a grand piano self-played Dean Martin songs. Guests, crammed into the waiting area, shouted and cawed, as if struggling to carry conversations over the whoosh of a subway that never did pass.
What does any of this have to do with bloody marys you ask? Everything. For how else could anyone survive such a scene?
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Fresh blood has been exhilaratingly infused into an old standard recipe laced with health-conscious ingredients. Consider fresh tomato juice spiked with vitamin C and a dash of heart-pumping peppers stirred with a snappy celery stick. Bloody Hell! This savory vodka cocktail is practically farm-to-table good for you. By all means, have another!
But what is it exactly that makes a bloody taste so good? “It’s about balance, says Erin Eberle, a former South Florida sommelier turned Portland-based plant food consultant for nourishpdx.com. “You get earthy, fruity, acid, sour and spicy all in one beverage that happens to contain alcohol. How is that not an almost every-occasion drink?”
Doctors may be reluctant to promote the bloody’s healing properties, but four out of five bartenders confidently recommend a brew or two. Around South Florida some of our favorite spots are serving creative bloody concoctions for happy hour specials and as part of a classic brunch spread.
Boatyard’s hook-to-table seafood is locally sourced and served with creative flair (tuna tacos and grilled octopus are the perfect foil for a pre-dinner bloody). So for Sunday brunch, don’t miss the opportunity to play mad-scientist/mixologist at the create-your-own bloody bar, where you can make unlimited customized bloodys with spices, garnishes and vodka of choice. You might be staying for a while, so kick back and enjoy the scenery. Boatyard’s outdoor lounge is the ideal place to burn off the blood-alcohol content.
1555 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale
It’s as if the Seafood Connection patrons of past — the ones feasting on celestial shrimp cocktail — have reincarnated as Miami Beach hipsters, who can be found lounging at the Broken Shaker bar and 27 restaurant at The Freehand Miami. The cottage setting’s Old World charm blends well with the eclectic art and innovative menus. Of course, the standard bloody mary has been reminted as a green-hued, salad-inspired cocktail. Pressed cucumbers, kale-tomato juice and home-pickled garnishes round out the recipe. The secret ingredient, they say, is the fish sauce. Hmm…must be their grandmother’s recipe.
2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach
Old Town’s breakfast cafés are as iconic as its bar crawls. While you might start your day searching for the fluffiest, prettiest, sweetest Belgian waffles on the island, a morning after may call for something stronger. Pepe’s Café is the kind of old-sailor joint that’s been sympathetically serving stiff bloodies to local patrons since 1909. It’s more of a bearded Hemingway than bow-tied Capote kind of place.
For added relief, take in the island breezes at their outdoor patio, as you enjoy a hearty serving of eggs, toast, hash browns, bacon or whatever your bleary-eyed self and growling stomach may crave.
806 Caroline St., Key West
The Pickled Beet Bloody
by Erin Eberle
1 oz. Vodka of choice
4 oz. Bloody mix*
Ice cubes Glass
Prepare a batch ahead of time and have it on hand in the refrigerator. In a quart-size container, pour 24 ounces of tomato juice (canned or fresh, your call).
Add 3 tablespoons of grated horseradish, 2 tablespoons pickled beet juice (see below), 3-5 dashes of Tabasco sauce, 1 teaspoon celery salt, ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper, 1 ounce fresh lemon juice, 1 ounce olive brine and 1 ounce jarred pepperoncini liquid. Shake like hell and then let sit in the fridge until ready to serve.
1 Bunch beets
¼ Cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ Tsp. Mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil beets in water until tender. At the same time, mix all the other ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine the beets with the liquid and let it marinate for at least an hour. Garnish pickled beet, celery, chili salted rim, lime slice