Bartender Jean Jacobsen prepares a bloody mary at Riley’s Brew Pub in Clovis. The drink includes a garnish of bacon, a chicken wing, olive, cheese cube, onion and pepperoncini. CRAIG KOHLRUSSCKOHLRUSS@FRESNOBEE.COM
A bloody mary with a stalk of celery plopped in it is so old school.
Today’s bloody mary is a rock star, piled high with so many garnishes that it’s more like an appetizer – or a meal – than a drink. The most outrageousones on the internet are topped with grilled cheese sandwiches, nachos, soft pretzels, even a personal-sized pizza.
Though the bloody mary has been around forever, seemingly, the cocktail has become even more popular in recent months. Restaurants in Fresno and Clovis are adding their own twist on the classic tomato juice and vodka drink. And it’s becoming a regular on brunch menus along with the other cocktail it’s acceptable to drink in the mornings, the mimosa.
You can drink a bloody mary anytime, of course. Fresno-area restaurants are topping them with diverse garnishes such as hotlink sausages, chicken wings, bacon and more. Here’s what five local restaurants are doing.
1. Riley’s Brew Pub. The brew pub that opened in Clovis last year tops its bloody mary with all kinds of munchies: A savory, dry-seasoned chicken wing, a slice of spicy-sweet bacon prepared with brown sugar each morning, an olive, onion, cheese cube and a pepperoncini, the mildly spicy light green pepper.
The bloody mary at Riley’s Brew Pub in Clovis includes a garnish of bacon, a chicken wing, olive, cheese cube, onion and pepperoncini. Bartender Jean Jacobsen prepared this one on Aug. 30.
CRAIG KOHLRUSS firstname.lastname@example.org
Order one of these babies at Riley’s and you’ll get the whole dining room’s attention – and inspire more people to order one too, said bartender Jean Jacobsen.
“I would definitely say it is a crowd-pleaser,” she said. “If one goes out, everyone in the restaurant is like, ‘What is that?’ and then we have to make a bunch of them.”
3. Uncle Buddy’s Smokehouse N Grill in Old Town Clovis. This restaurant’s liquor license only allows it to serve beer and wine, so the staff had to get creative. The result is something called a red beer that’s similar to a michelada. It’s a Mexican beer (usually a Corona, sometimes a Modelo) mixed with Clamato juice (tomato and clam), Worcestershire sauce and a few other spicy ingredients.
Uncle Buddy’s Smokehouse N Grill in Clovis can only serve beer and wine with its liquor license, so they created the next best thing to a bloody mary. Dubbed a “red beer,” the drink uses a Mexican beer and Clamato juice, topped with almost a whole meal. Some versions include fried okra and onion rings.
Uncle Buddy’s Smokehouse N Grill
But the kicker is what comes on top: A hot link sausage, onion rings, a mozzarella stick, chicken wing, celery, a jalapeño-stuffed olive, a bit of green onion, pepperoncini, lemon and lime slices and little pieces of fried okra.
4. Elbow Room. A sister restaurant to Riley’s, Elbow Room decided to up its game when they saw how well bloody marys were doing at Riley’s. The Elbow Room version is made with the restaurant’s own bloody mary mix and topped with candied bacon, olives, onion and a pepper.
“We serve it in those big giant chalices,” said general manager Liz Noble.
You can buy a bloody mary anytime, but the drinks sell like hot cakes during Elbow Room’s weekend brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Saturday and Sunday morning, it’s crazy,” Noble said. “It’s like no one can drink anything else.”
Details: 731 W. San Jose Ave., Fig Garden Village, Fresno. 559-227-1234.
5. The PressBox Sports Grill. Last year, the PressBox put a tiny burger slider atop its bloody mary for football season. This season, they’ve swapped in a chicken wing on the drink, along with a dill pickle spear, cucumber, bacon, lemon, lime, green olives, pepperoncini, cocktail onions and celery.
The drink, made with their housemade bloody mary mix, is available any time at any of the PressBox’s three locations. But the bloody mary is expected to be a big seller at the newest PressBox at Champlain Drive and Shepherd Avenue, which hosts a Sunday morning football brunch.
Customers can watch the game and pair the drink with a “quarterback breakfast burrito,” granola crusted French toast, or other brunch options from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. during football season.
The central San Joaquin Valley has plenty of those, but there are a lot of different moms out there. What if brunch isn’t her thing? What if she likes beer? Or cupcakes? Or gospel?
With that in mind, we rounded up some Mother’s Day events and food options that are a little different. And for those traditional types, we’ve thrown in a few classy brunches, as well. Note that some of these events are Friday and Saturday, though Mother’s Day is Sunday.
FOR MOMS WHO LIKE TO GET CREATIVE — Several sip-and-paint events happen on Mother’s Day and surrounding days. These are the classes where a teacher guides you through a painting while you sip wine or other drinks. No painting experience necessary.
These sessions fill up fast, so act quickly.
At Pinot’s Palette, at the corner of Palm and Herndon avenues, there are four Mother’s Day-themed events on Sunday. Moms can choose a painting that says “Bless this home” with a cross, a vase of flowers or other images.
Paint Nite doesn’t have any sessions on Mother’s Day, but it has events in the days before and after. These are held at restaurants and wine-tasting rooms around town.
FOR MOMS WHO LIKE GOSPEL — A brunch on Saturday catered by Chef Paul’s Cafefeatures a musical tribute to Edwin Hawkins, the “father of contemporary gospel music” known for the song, “Oh, Happy Day.” Several musicians will perform.
The gospel brunch runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s at a new downtown venue, the Broadway Event Center at 721 Broadway St.
Tickets for brunch and show cost $30, show-only tickets cost $15. Tickets are available online.
The beer garden at Tioga-Sequoia regularly hosts food trucks.
The beer garden is a mellow hangout place and on Mother’s Day will feature jazz musician Randy Freeman from 3 to 5 p.m. Food truck Nay Nay’s Filipino Flavors will serve lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) and other food from noon to 5 p.m. As for beer, be sure to try the new Zorro Especial, a lager paying tribute to the Fresno Football Club, the Foxes (zorro means fox in Spanish).
It’s at 745 Fulton St.
Smallcakes is taking orders for this box of “boozy” Mother’s Day cupcakes with flavors like pink Champagne for $18.99.
FOR MOMS WHO LIKE CUPCAKES — Smallcakes Fresno is taking pre-orders for Mother’s Day. The cupcake bakery offers four of their large cupcakes with decorations like tiny signs that say “I love my mom” for $17.99. They come in strawberry, vanilla, chocolate and red velvet flavors.
Another “boozy” Mother’s Day package includes these flavors of cupcakes: pink Champagne, cosmopolitan, a chocolate-dipped strawberry cupcake and a white Russian cupcake made with Kahlúa and infused with coffee. That sells for $18.99.
FOR MOMS WHO LIKE LOCAL, ORGANIC FOOD — The Tree of Life Cafe & Bakery in downtown Fresno is holding two “spring chickens for Mother’s Day” events. The interactive brunches feature Mary Pitman of Mary’s Free-Range Chicken and Tree of Life owner Carolyn Ocheltree. The pair will share stories of motherhood and growing their companies.
Each event includes dinner, instruction on how to prepare different chicken recipes and wine. A hands-on class limited to 15 people runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and costs $30. Another, larger class runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday and costs $25.
The event includes a roller derby match on the concrete slab just outside the brewery. The Central California Area Derby will compete against the Rough Diamond Rebels of Riverside County. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the match starts at 5:30 p.m.
Food and beer will be available for purchase. Try a Killwood IPA, a beer named to raise awareness of thousands of trees in the region killed by the drought and bark beetles.
Tickets to the roller derby match cost $10 and can be purchased at the door or online.
<iframe src=”https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article155581419.html/video-embed” width=”640″ height=”400″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”true”></iframe> — Several national chains have specials on Mother’s Day.
Macaroni Grill opens early at 9 a.m. Sunday for a brunch that runs until 4 p.m. There’s avocado toast and other items on the limited menu. The restaurant is also offering a fixed-price, two-course dinner for $25 per person Thursday through Sunday. That includes steak or chicken and desserts like chocolate cake. The full menu for both events is on the restaurant’s website.
Mimi’s also hosts a three-course brunch from 11 a.m. to close Sunday. The meal costs $18.99 for adults, $8.99 for kids. The menu includes quiche Lorraine, a mushroom and brie burger and several other options, along with soup or salad and dessert. Kids pick from a separate menu.
For Mother’s Day weekend, Eureka! restaurant is selling $12 flights of four different kinds of mimosas. They’re made with Champagne and fresh-squeezed juices like orange, pineapple, grapefruit and a housemade ginger-lime juice.
FOR MOMS WHO LIKE COCKTAILS — The Elbow Room in Fig Garden Village is selling $5 “MOM-osas” all day Sunday. Moms can pick from several flavors of mimosas, including the traditional cocktail made with orange juice or pineapple, strawberry, peach or mango versions.
The restaurant also hosts brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Eureka! restaurant also is jumping on the mom-osa bandwagon. On Saturday and Sunday, the restaurant at Palm and Nees avenues will serve a $12 flight of mimosas in four mini glasses featuring mimosas made with different fresh-squeezed juices. They include orange, pineapple, grapefruit, and a housemade ginger lime juice.
Eureka! also debuted some new seasonal cocktails last week. They include the wild child, made with watermelon, mint, vodka and rosé, and the New Delhi sunrise made with a garam masala syrup and rum. The Botanist G&T is made with its namesake gin and tonic water, rosemary and basil blossoms that diners are encouraged to pluck off their stem and add to the drink for a little extra flavor.
FOR MOMS WHOSE KIDS ARE BROKE — Wienerschnitzel and Hooters both have free-food deals on Mother’s Day. Though if you take your mom to either of these places you really should make her a card or some other nice gesture.
Wienerschnitzel is giving away a free chili dog, french fries and small soda Sunday to moms. Moms will need to show proof of motherhood, which can include bringing their children to the restaurant, showing a family photo or sharing a family story with Wienerschnitzel workers.
Hooters has the 10-piece chicken wings, a burger or a chicken sandwich free with purchase of a drink.
FOR MOMS WHO WANT BRUNCH — There’s nothing wrong with a traditional brunch. However, you need to make reservations as soon as possible. Here are a few options.
▪ Arte Américas is hosting its El Día de las Madres brunch in its plaza from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. It includes live music, a Champagne toast and silent auction under a shaded tent. Tickets cost $60 per person. To purchase, call 559-266-2623. Address: 1630 Van Ness Ave.
A fire closed popular Five Restaurant in northeast Fresno, CA, on Sept. 16, 2018. LARRY VALENZUELALVALENZUELA@FRESNOBEE.COM
It may take six months before the beloved Five Restaurant, heavily damaged in a Sept. 16 fire, reopens it doors, said owner Pat LaRocca.
The restaurant at Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue was just a few hours from opening for dinner on a Sunday last month when a fire broke out in the kitchen. Fresno Fire Department investigators said the fire started accidentally in the pizza oven and caused an estimated $300,000 in damage.
LaRocca said the fire caused extensive damage to the kitchen, ducts and roof. Smoke and water also damaged the interior, including carpets, booths and tables.
The reconstruction will give LaRocca the chance to make some changes to the interior including new paint colors.
“The restaurant will get a facelift and Five will be alive again,” he said. “We are hoping to be open by spring of 2019, or sooner.”
LaRocca, who operates the restaurant with wife Marina, said the experience has been traumatic. He recalled standing in the parking lot feeling helpless as fire fighters knocked down the flames and put out the fire. But when he looked around the parking lot, he saw 150 people who looked just as shocked as he was.
“There were people who were just as teary-eyed as I was,” he said. “I had two different couples come to me that night with gloves on asking me what they could do to help. It has been that kind of experience.”
LaRocca said he has realized that what he lost that night was made up for by the kindness of strangers and friends.
“People have just been amazing, I can’t even begin to tell you,” LaRocca said. “We have had so much support from the community that it brings a tear to my eye.”
Among those who have stepped up are local restaurant owners, offering everything from the use of refrigerators to temporary jobs for his staff of nearly 50 workers. Although the restaurant’s insurance policy provides the workers with paychecks, servers only get their base salary. Tips are not covered.
So to help make ends meet, restaurants and caterers, including Pardini’s Catering & Banquets, Fansler Restaurant Group, Elbow Room, Sam’s Italian Deli, Cracked Pepper Bistro, Vino Grille & Spirits, Ovidio Ristorante Italiano, and the Manhattan have all offered his staff work.
Even some of the kitchen staff have taken on day jobs, thanks to LaRocca.
Sous chef Adan Pena said LaRocca found work for him with longtime friend Nick Marziliano, owner of Sam’s Italian Deli. Pena is making pastas, sauces and doing prep work.
“Pat really takes care of his people and I really appreciate that,” Pena said. “I can’t wait to get back to work at the restaurant.”
Marziliano said that when he hired Pena, the cook seemed more worried about LaRocca than his own future. Pena said he called LaRocca the night of the fire and asked if there was anything he could do to help.
“I was really scared and worried for him,” Pena said. “The restaurant is like our family.”
Marziliano said he didn’t hesitate to offer his friend help. And he said he would do the same even if he didn’t know the owner.
“If we don’t help each other out locally, the chain restaurants will eat us up,” Marziliano said. “We may compete against each other, but when it comes down to it we are one big family.”
The Butterball Turkey Talk Line launched in 1981 to help home cooks make turkeys for Thanksgiving. The hotline has helped 50 million people so far. Supervisor Marjorie Klindera shared what it’s like to work on the hotline (with a few fun facts). ▪
By Meta Viers and Cristina Rayas
Thanksgiving is coming up fast and if feeding all those people is a little overwhelming, we have some suggestions.
There’s no shame in a getting a little help, whether it’s from a restaurant or a store.
Plenty of restaurants are open Thanksgiving Day, though making a reservation is recommended.
Several stores and some restaurants are also selling Thanksgiving meals that you take home and warm up.