Celebrate Highwood Throws an Epic Bloody Mary Fest (Plus Tips for the Perfect At-Home Bloody)

Celebrate Highwood Throws an Epic Bloody Mary Fest (Plus Tips for the Perfect At-Home Bloody)

On Sunday, July 29, Celebrate Highwood held their 9th annual Bloody Mary Festival at Everts Park in Highwood, Illinois. This year included 19 Bloody Mary entries by mixologists, local restaurants, and even a pie and canning business. The fest was extra special because our very own Susan B. Noyes served as a judge!

Highwood Bloody Mary Fest: Elsie Mae’s Canning & Pie’s Bloody Mary
Elsie Mae’s Canning & Pie’s Bloody Mary (Photo by Macaire Douglas.)

Susan was joined on the judging panel by some of Chicago’s leading media personalities including:

The judges tested 19 unique Bloody Marys with impressive presentations and rated taste, garnish, texture, color, and spice for Best Bloody Mary and Best Garnish. The crowd also had an opportunity to vote for People’s Choice.

Highwood Bloody Mary Fest: Susan Noyes with judges Eric Falberg, Lee A. Litas, and Monica Pedersen
Susan Noyes with judges Eric Falberg, Lee A. Litas, and Monica Pedersen (Photo by Macaire Douglas.)

Here are this year’s winners:

Judges Choice

People’s Choice

Most Creative

  • Elsie Mae’s Canning & Pies of Kenosha, Wisconsin

Best Garnish

Highwood Bloody Mary Fest: Elsie Mae’s Bloody Mary
Scotty’s on Sheridan of Highwood’s Bloody Mary (Photo by Rick Roshto.)

You can view the full list of competitors and vendors online.

Straight from this year’s winners, we have some insider tips on how to create your best Bloody Mary and garnish at home:

Highwood Bloody Mary Fes: Tom Garrity from The Toadstool Pub
Tom Garrity from The Toadstool Pub of Highwood (Photo by Rick Roshto.)

Tom Garrity from The Toadstool Pub of Highwood shared a basic Bloody Mary recipe (because he can’t reveal his secrets!):

  • 1.5 to 2 ounces vodka
  • Shake of pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Splash of Worcestershire
  • Hot sauce

Top with Bloody Mary mix or tomato juice

He recommends adding a splash of Guinness to finish and then garnishing with a slice of thick, caramelized bacon and a stuffed peppadew like The Toadstool does.

Highwood Bloody Mary Fest: Culinary Gangster
Culinary Gangster presenting their award winning Bloody Mary (Photo by Rick Roshto.)

Rick Raschillo, owner of Culinary Gangster and Valor, Glencoe, recommends keeping your garnish simple so the Bloody Mary stays true to what the focus should be: a great blend of tomatoes and a nice vodka. His Heirloom Umami Bloody, created with his mixologist Matt Varchmin, packed a flavorful punch this year and featured local ingredients from within a 15-mile radius.

What were some of Susan’s standout favorites?

Highwood Bloody Mary Fest: Susan Noyes
Susan Noyes (Photo by Macaire Douglas.)

Susan thought the most refreshing was Alex’s Washington Gardens gazpacho soup-inspired Bloody Mary, served in a vintage Lake Geneva Playboy Mansion glass. The presentation by Gourmet Frog Bakery was also unique as it was served in a sweet pepper. She also loved the fun presentation in a cantaloupe by La Casa de Isaac.

 

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Macaire DouglasMacaire Douglas lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Share Our Spare, a local nonprofit that collects goods for children in need.