Sweater Weather: Northern Liberties Bloody Mary Challenge

Añejo’s “Chupacabra”
Añejo Philly

We’ve all heard of the Monster Mash during the spooky season, but this Saturday, Philadelphians will be seeing that phrase in a whole new spirited light— and the result is truly tasty. This weekend in Northern Liberties, participating spots around the eclectic section of the city will be competing in the first-ever Monster Mash: Northern Liberties Bloody Mary Challenge.  The competition is just as it seems: Competing venues will have a chance to create their most unique Bloody Mary concoctions that have to be as pleasing to the eye as it is to the tastebuds as well. 12 NoLibs eateries will be participating, and Philadelphians who are interested in checking out the event can make reservations at any of the spots that are offering up a contender. Then, diners will help to select the best and crown the winner, all while safely being able to enjoy brunch. Obviously, 12 brunch spots in one morning is not feasible, but Bloody Mary lovers are in luck— all of the spots will keep the themed drinks on their menu throughout the remainder of the month as well on weekends. 

“Tiny’s Bloody Burger” from Germantown GardenKris Kennedy

For Monster Mash this Saturday, participating spots include: Anejo, SET NoLibs, Germantown Garden, Germantown Garden Grill, Urban Village, El Camino, The 700 Club, Standard Tap, Abbaye, Heritage, Jerry’s Bar and Ortliebs. A few of these spots opened during the pandemic and are fairly new to the area including the tequila hotspot Añejo, Asian-fusion eatery SET NoLibs and the open-air concept taking over Vesper Day Club for the season, Germantown Garden Grill. All drinks will range in terms of accouterments, flavors and offerings, but only one can be crowned the winner. 

Añejo’s Bloody Mary is dubbed the “Chupacabra”, based on a classic figure in Latin folklore. According to the release, the concoction will feature a hybrid of the traditional flavors of tomato, horseradish and Worcestershire with Sangrita influences of citrus juices and authentic Mexican spices like pequin, and arbol. Fortified by a blend of Crystalhead Onyx -the brand new Agave Vodka just released this past week, and Milagro Blanco Tequila, the Chupacabra is then garnished with guajillo and jalapeno salts, cucumber, lemon, rainbow carrots, goat cheese stuffed olives and smoked Ancho chili— this one is not for the faint of heart. El Camino Real is also offering up an intense version titled the “Murderous Mary”, made with house made spicy gazpacho style Bloody Mary, serrano pepper infused vodka, a sriracha rim, olive eyeballs and chapulines, aka Mexican toasted grasshoppers.

Other venues will be pulling out all of the stops when it comes to the toppings for their drinks. Germantown Garden will feature a tiny burger on top of theirs along with blue cheese stuffed olives, whereas next door, the new Germantown Garden Grill will feature a Bloody Mary with a green tomato, wasabi, pickled jalapeño and cucumber. Heritage is also getting fancy with its version for the competition offering a candied house cured bacon and chocolate garnish while Jerry’s Bar will feature jalepeno infused tequila for their selection along with an ancho chili and charcoal lava salt rim, house hot sauce, queso fresco stuffed black olive eyes, pickles, lime and red pepper claws.

More options include the “Blood Valentine” from Ortliebs made with their taco sauce bloody blend, the “Siracha Gotcha” from SET NoLibs featuring their “secret weapon” of a sauce, the “Kraken” from Standard Tap with a glazed octopus garnish, the “Bacon Bloody” from The 700 Club, “The Nautilus” from The Abbaye which uses squid ink and beer candied peppercorn, and the “Kimchee Mary” from Urban Village Brewing Company made with a kimchee puree and a Korean chili salt rim.

The “Murderous Mary” from El Camino Real.Kris Kennedy

The event comes from Northern Liberties Business District, the organization has been working since the pandemic started months ago to help bring Philadelphians out and about to safely support small businesses. NLBID was created over two years ago with the main goal of augmenting city services and promoting the neighborhood while also providing a vibrant way to work, shop and live in Northern Liberties. After the unprecedented impact of the pandemic hit, however, the organization’s function became more paramount than ever.

The event is the first of many that will help drive Philadelphians back into the swing of supporting small businesses even with the cold weather coming in. While there, diners are also encouraged to check out the area’s retail and small shops to help keep the small biz support train rolling.

Those interested in checking out the city’s first first-ever Monster Mash: Northern Liberties Bloody Mary Challenge can visit www.explorenorthernliberties.org for a full list of details and updates.