Mother’s Day brings warm, fuzzy feelings of thankfulness and admiration for all mothers around the world. The Mother’s Day tradition my mother and I share brings extra fuzzy feelings courtesy of the Bloody Marys we drink together at our annual brunch! Every May I take her to one of our favorite spots like Gulden’s Restaurant & Bar in Maplewood or Governors Fine Food & Drink on the east side of St Paul. These restaurants host special brunch buffets that include a necessary feature: build-your-own Bloody Mary bars featuring the whole gamut of garnishes like pickles, Tabasco sauce, olives, the all-important celery sticks, and other less conventional additions.
As the years passed, I’ve ventured from suburban spots and hometown haunts toward big city watering holes, selflessly researching Bloody Mary bars in anticipation of my mother’s and my next big outing. Over the course of this journey of self-enrichment I’ve had the pleasure of creating hairs of the dog at many exciting places like The Happy Gnome, Hell’s Kitchen, and Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge. I’m always drawn back, however, to my favorite place among these: Amsterdam Bar and Hall located on 6th and Wabasha in St Paul. Just a block from the newly repurposed Palace Theater, Amsterdam serves up some excellent Bloody Marys in addition to their usual culinary offerings and live music. Amsterdam’s awesome staff hands you a pint glass filled with ice and a generous portion of Effen cucumber vodka as a base for your boozy breakfast beverage. With that central ingredient attended to, the rest is up to your discretion!
Creating your own alcoholic masterpiece is a pleasure courtesy of Amsterdam’s ingredient selection. Their tomato juice mixture is delicious and made fresh in-house. They have all the well-known hot sauces and a selection of fun, local spicy concoctions as well. They even have pickle and olive juices on the side if you’re one of those adventurous drinkers who likes to quaff something “dirty.” The pickle spears and olives are delicately arrayed in glasses above an iced cooling tray in order to keep them crispy and fresh. I love that Amsterdam stays true to its name with Netherlands-inspired add-ons like gouda slices, smoked sausage, pickled beets, and blue cheese stuffed olives. I’ve found that nothing in life can’t be improved upon with the addition of cheese.
Both the brunch and regular menu includes Amsterdam’s mainstays like Dutch baby pancakes and grilled sandwiches called “broodjies.” Chef Brandon Dvorak sources local and organic ingredients for these specialties and the rest of his from-scratch menu. My mom is always floored by great food and Bloody Marys, both figuratively and literally, and seeing as I’m only expected to do nice things for her one day a year I don’t hold back when the time comes for Bloodies!
By Samantha Koshiol