Day drinking and day baseball go hand in hand when you're a fan of the Chicago Cubs, and inebriate fans have long lamented the lack of beverage options at the Friendly Confines. And just like the Cubs, every year gets a little bit better with mixed drink stands, Goose Island's "Not-So-Craft" brews, and now The Chicago Dog Bloody Mary, available exclusively in the bleachers.
When it comes to day drinking there are few better eye openers than a Bloody Mary, which combines a a garnished liquid salad with alcohol. You can almost fool yourself into thinking you're doing something good for your body and assuage some of the guilt you may feel getting drunk in the day time, while other more productive members of society, as Lee Elia complained in his profanity-filled tirade, "work for a living."
The CDBM is served exclusively at the Three Fingers stand in back of the right field bleachers and contains one finger of vodka, tomato juice, celery salt, yellow mustard and relish, and is garnished with a toothpick skewered with a pickle, cocktail onion, sport pepper, tomato, red pepper (possibly peppadew), and mini Vienna beef cocktail wiener. It's served in a poppy seed rimmed souvenir plastic mason jar with a festively striped paper straw and costs $15.
As you can garner from the garnish list, the CDBM is more than a drink, it's a meal. When considering the value of it's hefty price tag vs. bang for the buck, I figure the toothpick salad alone is worth the premium price, provided you like the ingredients. As beer and a steam trunk dog will cost you more. But is it a good Bloody Mary? That's debatable.
There's a lot going on with this beverage. If you're not a fan of some of these ingredients, you can order it the way you want it. In fact, the vendor knowingly asked me if I'd like it with mustard and relish, which clued me into the idea that the CDBM is often served without these ingredients. I asked her to "make it the way it's supposed to be made." After drinking the CDBM, I understand now she was just trying to help me.
The CDBM has got its good points and its not-so-good points. The vendor was right. A drink full of chunky relish and a paper straw that rapidly deteriorates in utility is not a good combo. Throughout the course of imbibing this beast, a large chunk of relish would become embedded in the straw. As I sucked harder to alleviate the blockage, I'd be rewarded with a face full of relish. Don't get me wrong. I like relish. I just don't spoon it into my mouth from the jar in the fridge door, ya know? And the glob of yellow mustard seemed only added for "Chicago Dog" authenticity's sake. It would have been better with a spicy brown mustard or better yet, horseradish. Always listen to the suggestions of the vendor. I should have left those ingredients out.
My only other complaint is the centerpiece of the drink itself: The hot dog.
I remember the moment as a child that I learned that you could eat a hot dog "raw." Because it's not really raw, but pre-cooked. My eight-year-old mind was blown and I soon after decided to give a raw dog, straight from a package of Jewel brand hotdogs, a try. And that's the last time I ate a refrigerated hotdog until yesterday. It's just better hot. I learned this lesson early in life. Frankly speaking, no one likes a cold little wiener.
With the center piece of the CDBM being the Chicago Dog, I simply must take points off for the frigid frank. I've had many Bloody Marys served with meat, but it's usually of the dried variety. Pepperoni, salami, and cooked bacon are a wonderful garnish for a Bloody Mary. A cold cocktail wiener, not so much. The CDBM is a victim of its own concept. Every aspect of this bloody that I didn't like was the courtesy Chicago Dog ingredients. I know branding is important. But a great tasting Bloody Mary served in a souvenir mason jar for $15 would be preferred. Plus, there's not much vodka in the CDBM, and a Goose Island IPA and a half will get your liver working more cost efficiently.
The CDBM is also not very drinkable. The paper straw was not very useful in sucking up chunks of relish, and didn't last very long soaked in the drink. Half way through the beverage, I was forced to ditch the straw for the poppy seed rimmed mason jar. However, the contour of the jar itself made it difficult to drink the last few ounces without getting a mouth full of ice.
But when all is said and done, if you're a Bloody Mary fan, it's probably worth a try because it's quite the conversation starter. Everyone in my section of the bleachers inquired as to whether I liked it or not, and asked whether I planned on keeping the glass. I did plan on keeping it, but gave it to my friend Rob whose birthday is Monday. Happy Birthday, Rob!
Just like the ill-advised cold hotdog I ate as a child, I will not be day drinking any more Chicago Dog Bloody Marys at Wrigley Field, but I'm glad I had one if for the souvenir glass alone. Chicago Dogs are great. Bloody Marys are great. The two together, not so much. But give it a try, and take the vendors advice to ditch the mustard and relish, and maybe leave the mini wiener for the famous Wrigley gulls.