The Guilty Pleasure: The Kraken
Where to Get It: DCM Bar at DeSoto Central Market
What it Really Costs: Any sense of perspective about Blood Marys. Henceforth, you will be disappointed when there's not a burger or a whoopie pie (or both at once) attached to your brunch drink.
The Bloody Mary, the classic Sunday morning vodka-and-tomato-juice cocktail, is the type of drink that delights some and induces stomach-churning in others.
But, love it or hate it, there's no denying the Bloody Mary has experienced a resurgence in recent years. Make-your-own-Bloody-Mary bars are now a staple at fancy brunches, and it seems no hipster cocktail parlour is complete without its own signature Bloody Mary.
One of the more interesting trends to develop around the 100-plus-year-old cocktail is the rise of the 30-ingredient "monster" Bloody Mary. Okay, 30 ingredients might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. It used to be that celery sticks, maybe a slice of bacon, were the garnish of choice when building a decent Bloody Mary. Well, not anymore.
In recent years, Bloody Marys have popped up around the country sporting all kinds of crazy accoutrements. You may have seen, for example, Bloody Marys garnished with whole roast chickens, pizza pies, and skewers of jumbo shrimp. These are the Bloody Marys of the Instagram age: over-the-top, decadent carnival concoctions, just begging to be documented and shared.
Here in the Valley, the place to come face to face with a monster Bloody Mary of your own is at the DCM Bar at the DeSoto Central Market in downtown Phoenix. The house specialty Bloody Mary is called The Kraken, named after the legendary, octopus-like sea monster said to torment sailors on the choppy waters of the north Atlantic. It's an apt name for the cocktail, which is a many-armed beast in its own right.
Although The Kraken is never made exactly the same way twice, you can count on a chilled mug, salted at the rim, filled with tangy-peppery tomato juice. Like most Bloody Marys, the Vodka is lurking under the surface, a smooth drink that should satisfy any yearning for some light day drinking. The bar can also make it with tequila, gin, or beer, if you prefer.
It comes garnished with the usual suspects, including a crisp, leafy celery stick, a thick cut of bacon, a carrot spear, green olives, and the holy trinity of citrus: lemon, lime and orange.
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Then there are the unusual suspects: a cheeseburger slider and a homemade dessert, artfully arranged on a wooden skewer, which sticks out of the mug like a wayward limb. On our visit, an orange peel rosette was tucked in between the slider and the dessert, as if to give each snack some breathing room.
On our visit, the slider was hefty and meaty, the richness of the burger rounded out by a big, crinkled leaf of butter lettuce. But our favorite element was the brownie whoopie pie. The moist, fudgey cookie was light as air and not too sweet. Desserts, which are made at Tea & Toast Co. next door, often change, depending on availability. In the past, we've been told, the bar has used red velvet cake.
The Kraken is satisfying enough as a meal, or as a drink-and-appetizer combo to share with your brunch date. But it's even more satisfying for the sheer novelty of dismantling and consuming it. Just don't forget to take a picture before you dig in.