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First Bloody Mary Fest celebrates Bloody Marys in Austin

Arianna Auber

A staple of the brunch menu, a Bloody Mary cocktail is the only drink local jewelry designer Dean Fredrick feels comfortable having before noon — although he’s certainly not opposed to enjoying one at night sometimes, too.

It’s become something he appreciates so much, in fact, that he’s created the First Annual Bloody Mary Fest to determine what bar or restaurant in town has the best one. Ten of them will compete in this inaugural year for the People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice awards at the east side bar Shangri-La. So far, Fredrick says, Shangri-La, Licha’s Cantina, Parkside, Frank and Rio Rita are definite participants; he’s anticipating another five or so to be ready for the big tasting on Sunday.

The bars will each bring about six gallons of their very own Bloody Mary mixes, along with any garnishes that typically accompany their version of the cocktail. Then, Bloody Mary fans, along with four celebrity judges, will be able to taste each of the mixes; if they like a particular one enough to get a full pour, they can get 10 oz. mugs filled.

Plus, the event will feature brunch by Frank, beats by DJ Johnny Hottub and Easter activities including an Easter egg hunt and egg painting. Fredrick eventually wants to turn Bloody Mary Fest into a much bigger affair, moving it to a local park.

“Nothing beats a really spicy Bloody Mary on a Sunday afternoon,” he said — so it’s a solid guess the day and time won’t change for the future fests.

And if the 1 p.m. celebration of Bloody Marys this Sunday doesn’t slake your thirst for the tomato cocktail, Fredrick’s got some recommendations for where you can go in town to get a good one.

  • South Congress Cafe, the place where he had the first Bloody Mary that made him a fan, started it all. Tito’s Vodka is infused with a veritable salad of ingredients: bell peppers, onions, celery, lemons, limes, garlic and jalapeños. The cafe’s Bloody Mary mix is also spicy, but that’s just how Fredrick likes it.
  • Frank calls its version the Red-Headed Stranger. This time Tito’s is infused with bacon; the mason jar the mix is in is rimmed with Frank’s signature seasoned salt and black pepper. On top, you’ll get a starter meal of bacon, cheddar cheese, a jalapeño-stuffed olive and pepperoncini.
  • Rio Rita’s also isn’t for the faint of palate. Jalapeños and habaneros have been infused in the vodka (if you’re wanting the smoke-out-of-your-ears kind) for a powerful spicy kick that burns so good.
  • Contigo, Swift’s Attic and Yellow Jacket Social Club deliver up tasty Bloody Marys as well. Yellow Jacket’s version gets topped off with beer, a disarming combination for Fredrick, who can easily go through about five or six of them. “Good thing I live within walking distance,” he cracked.

Any bars or restaurants interested in participating in Bloody Mary Fest can email