Drink of the week:
A trip to the bloody mary bar with a mimosa chaser at Stanley's Kitchen & Tap
, 1970 N. Lincoln Avenue, on a Sunday morning.
The damage: $8.16 a piece. These beauties are big enough to share, so order one of each and sip back and forth.
Thousands of bars in Chicago, why this one? I can't pinpoint the exact moment that sparked my aversion to buffets, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with flavorless, spongy eggs or soggy waffles—a buffet is always at its worst at breakfast time. For years, I have managed to avoid standing in line among starving strangers, elbowing their way up to the table to heap underwhelming, mass-produced fare on their platters. But I had been told that Stanley's Sunday spread of Southern cookin' could kill even the most nauseating of hangovers, and on this particular morning I was willing to slather cold gravy on my biscuits if it meant erasing the effects of Saturday evening.
How it went down: Whomever first concocted bloody marys and mimosas were geniuses: No one actually wants to taste alcohol at 11 a.m., but that won't keep us from drinking it. These libations taste deliciously like pure juice. Ironically, I loathe orange and tomato juices on their own; give me a glass sans champagne or vodka, and I reach for my coffee. But once you pair that Florida goodness with the bubbly or the tart red nectar with well vodka, I'm a believer.
Stanley's bloody marys are legendary in size and come in paper containers large enough to hold a few meals' worth of chicken soup. Instead, a couple (generous) shots of vodka and ice fill it a third of the way, leaving ample room for you to get creative at the make-your-own bar stocked with standard trappings—olives, pickles, Tabasco and horseradish—and various premixed liquids. Though the mimosa appears tamer, it rivals the bloody mary in mass. A miniature bottle of champagne provides a seemingly endless supply of topper for your O.J. and pours about three full cocktails.
Would I want to become a regular? Sadly, Stanley's wasn't able to overcome my disdain for buffets. Other than the lusciously creamy mac 'n' cheese and meaty corned beef hash, the food let me down. To be fair, though, I didn't have enough patience to wait for a custom-made omelet, and the signature fried chicken ran out before we arrived. I did see a few people order off of Stanley's standard breakfast menu, a route I plan to follow my next time. Still, the cocktails had the affect I had hoped for, and the hordes of families kept us entertained.
Dana Kavan scours the city for drink deals so good you'll offer to buy a round and creative libations that outshine your average on-the-rocks concoctions. Want to give Dana tips on where to rack up a bar tab? Share your finds before her next night out.