It has to be a fun job to create the world's largest build-your-own bloody mary bar, a title that, according to the World Record Academy, is currently held by The Silver Grill in Fort Collins, Colorado. That's exactly what the folks at the Denver Food & Wine Festival attempted to do this past Sunday at the annual Rise + Dine Brunch. With over 180 bottles of Ultimat Vodka and Lunazul Tequila, cases of plain and spicy bloody mary mixer by Freshies, and 60 toppings, they definitely gave it the old college try. Given they beat The Silver Grill's record by 10 garnish options, one would say it proved successful.
The toppings included bread products, meats, cheese, sandwiches, pickles, a few hot sauce options, and veggies. Some of the more unusual offerings included deviled eggs, barbecue-buffalo sausage, green olives, jicama, mini burgers, grilled pesto and Swiss cheese sandwiches, smoked cheddar, jelly-stuffed doughnut holes, corn dogs, crispy chicken skin, marinated artichokes, slices of pepperoni pizza, herbed focaccia, dried apples, fried tobacco onions, shishito peppers, and garlic bread bites. There were seven kinds of pickles, five cheeses, stripes of bacon, stalks of baby corn, and a big bowl of horseradish.
Sixty toppings means there are literally thousands of combinations to try out. Did I try them all? No. That's crazy and I don't think anyone could drink (well, eat) that many bloody marys. But I did create some fun combos, including one that featured all nine of the meats; a veggie version with 14 items; the carb lover with eight bread products; and what was lovingly dubbed "The Everything" with a total of 25 items. I tried to get all the toppings in that glass, but the plastic cup just wouldn’t hold any more. Let's see how many wedges of chicken skin, mini corndogs, carrot sticks, and cheese cubes you can fit into a glass of tomato-tinged booze.
While all this was fun, and we definitely didn't run out of bloody mary themes before the ingredients dwindled, it seemed like there could have been more. Where were the bottles of wacky hot sauce the Southwest is known for? Why wasn't the iconic green chili a part of this momentous Colorado occasion? And don't you think a little dose of Rocky mountain oysters might have given the event even more fodder for social media?
To be honest, despite the numbers of goodies there, I feel I have seen and heard about more impressive spreads. For example, the single drink made by a bartender at a pub in Wisconsin that looks like a boozy edible arrangement with chicken wings, barbecue ribs, baby potatoes, and about 100 other ingredients. Also, there's the Caeser (Canada's take on the bloody mary) crowned with a whole chicken at this Vancouver eatery. At Sobelman's Pub and Grill in Milwaukee, adding a whole fried chicken is also a thing, along with sliders, bacon-wrapped cheese balls, and shrimp. And in NYC at Speedy Romeo they are topping their secret brunch cocktail with a whole slice of white pizza, a huge cheese-stuffed jalapeño, a giant wedge of pickle, house-pickled peppers. and a stalk of celery, which all gets stuck to the drink with a steak knife. It's only known by it's hashtag, #speedyrambofirstblood, and if you happen to visit the pizza shop you have to order it covertly.
Still, while these beauties definitely look more impressive, I have to admit 60 toppings is a lot to deal with. After all, you don't get to maneuver your own bloody at these eateries like I did at the Denver brunch event. This proved both good and bad as some ingredients didn't jive at all as a bloody mary topper. I mean, why would you put popcorn in the drink, or liquid-soaking tortilla chips for that matter. Others thrived like the chunks of sausage, baby corns and mozzarella balls.
Good or bad, co-sponsors of the event, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Colorado and the Colorado Restaurant Association, managed to offer the largest, unofficial do-it-yourself bloody mary bar in the United States and arguably, the world. At least, that's as far as we know since they didn't formally document it. While other bars might put out a sensational line up, there isn't anyone else contesting that title for the time being, and for that, cheers.