The Rock and Roll Craft Show is held the weekend after Thanksgiving as an alternative to the whole "Black Friday" mess -- an opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done, buying unique, handmade items and supporting local artisans, all while avoiding becoming a stampede victim at a mall or department store.
I suspect another reason the craft show is so well-suited for this weekend is that many people have out-of-town guests they have to entertain, and any activity that gets everyone out of the house is a godsend. If you were wandering around the Third Degree Glass Factory on Sunday afternoon with your potential in-laws in tow because they still
hadn't left, you would have needed a drink. Perhaps you would have had a Bloody Mary.
I'd taken a cue from a good friend, who when I met up with him at the craft show at round about one in the afternoon was already halfway into his Bloody Mary. I was feeling sullen about all the family time I had put in this week, and more than a little self-indulgent. I thought he had the right idea.
The Bloody Mary has two distinctions. First, it is a supposed hangover cure in the "hair of the dog" style. Second, it is one of the few universally accepted daytime drinks. Unless you want to catch sideways glances, you're probably not drinking at breakfast, with only two exceptions: a Mimosa or a Bloody Mary. Champagne diluted with orange juice hardly qualifies as a drink, but not so the Bloody Mary. I'm not sure what it is about tomato juice that transforms vodka into an acceptable accompaniment to scrambled eggs, but sometimes a Bloody Mary is just what the doctor ordered.
There are about a million ways to make a Bloody Mary, and every bartender has his or her preferred method. When I requested one at the craft show, the bartender asked, "How do you take it?"
I scanned my brain for the right response to this question. "On...the...rocks?"
"Spicy or not-so-spicy?" he clarified. This guy was serious. When I asked how he makes them, he replied, a little defensively, "You want my secret recipe?"
I nodded, and he enthusiastically acquiesced: "First I squeeze a couple of pieces of lime and drop them in, then I put in a jigger of vodka -- I use a jigger, not a shot. I use V-8, although Finest Call Loaded mix is good, if you can find it. I add a couple of dashes of Worcestershire and Tabasco, a splash of olive juice and a little celery salt." He placed a lime wheel on the lip of the cup and proudly handed it over.
This was a solid version, although I cannot claim to be an expert in Bloody Marys, as it is a once-in-a-great-while drink for me. Lured in by all the bells and whistles -- the pickled green beans and blue cheese-stuffed olives and the like -- I have often found them to be better in concept than in reality. Still, they definitely have their appeal. More than one person I encountered while shopping with my potential in-laws saw the Solo cup in my hand and, scanning the room for the bar, said, "Ooooh, is that a Bloody Mary?"
Of course, some of us have better reasons than others for drinking in the middle of the day. My good friend had just come from a demonstration outside of the Cathedral Basilica timed to coincide with noon mass. He stood out in the cold, holding his hand-painted "Gay by God" sign to protest the St. Louis Archdiocese's decision to donate $10,000 to support an anti-gay marriage ballot measure in Maine. There I was, with people who could be my in-laws tomorrow if my beau and I decided to wander down to the courthouse and make it official, feeling sorry for myself. There are no in-laws for my friend -- out, happily and proudly out -- because he is not in the law.Alicia Lohmar is a south-city dweller and accomplished drinker, to which she credits her German ancestry and Catholic upbringing.