Nothing Satisfies Your Mom Like a Bloody Mary

I wouldn't classify my mother as a real big drinker. More like a rare drinker. She's never had a predilection for Pinot Grigio, and she doesn't require a cocktail during her nightly stories. On a special occasion, however, she definitely perks up to a good Bloody Mary...prolly like your mom.

On Mother's Day just two Sundays ago, we settled up to a nice table at the NorthPark Maggiano's Little Italy. Mother wanted "you know, normal Italian food" at a clean and efficient, centrally located eatery, and since my sister and I often commence with Sunday worshop (get it! Ha!) at the reputable Center, we scored a reservation at Maggiano's...at 11:30 a.m.

Seems a little early for heavy bites, but you know that saying about Mama...if she ain't happy, you're all screwed. So we waltzed into the place and sat down, ordering an appetizer (don't know what we were thinking there -- the entrees are as big as your head) and, naturally, Bloody Marys to go around.

Sis wanted hers "spicy" (like your mom) with horseradish added. Mom wanted hers "the normal way." I spotted the Basil Bloody Mary on the menu, and what with my new venture in herb gardening and herby cocktails, I jumped at the chance to have more of tomato's BFF in on the party. (I know what you're thinking right now, but since tomato and basil sorta hang together in synchronicity, they're BFFs. Tomato and vodka get it on, do the dirty, put T-in-V, etc., so vodka is officially tomato's BF.)

We started shoveling food into our faces and talking about a motherload of things...like my niece's pink T-ball helmet, what sort of socks my grandmother likes, why my kitten becomes an asshole after 9 p.m., and who my mom thinks is the most offensive in the Real Housewives. You know, mom things.

Then our server brought our drinks. They were -- how you say -- awesome. I was pretty blown away by this bartender quietly working with little to no praise in a chain restaurant in a mall. In truth, and as Alton Brown pointed out on Good Eats last week, there's not a whole helluva lot to eff up when making a Mary, because of the simple recipe, but many people overwork it and go too far [insert DIY your mom joke here]. Nameless Bartender did not go too far. He orchestrated a perfect threesome between the tomato, its BFF and its BF that never got awkward, never left anyone out, and, somehow, was totally acceptable for my mom to sample. I'd share one with your mom, but that might be where things get strange.

What Nameless Bartender did right -- with this extended recipe of Ketel One, tomato mix, a little lemon and fresh basil -- was create the most basic of Marys and allow the basil to emote. He didn't press or muddle...as your mom is wont to do. Simple stirring released oils and aroma (much like the Domino Fizz from the last Girl Drink adventure, the herb was respected.) and added an incredible punch to the drink. Not as invigorating as a slap in the face from an Italian grandma -- or your mom -- but close.

Mother enjoyed her "normal" version, becoming nonchalant and happy. Sis got sauced on the spicy, and I was herbed out of my tree with my BTV in a glass. For the record, lunch went really well, a tribute both to mom and the Bloody Mary. 

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