Editors' pick

Build-your-own Bloody Mary Brunch

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Editorial Review

I admit to loving make-your-own bloody mary bars. There’s something about shaking dashes of various obscure hot sauces and throwing pinches of spices and salts into a pint glass filled with vodka that brings out the mad scientist in us all, especially on otherwise sluggish Sunday mornings.

But after making yet-another too-hot bloody mary with rail vodka, a sticky bottle of hot sauce and a jug of store-bought bloody mary mix, you want something a little fancier -- something you couldn’t do at home. That’s when you head to Poste at the Hotel Monaco.

The restaurant’s new make-your-own bloody mary bar, which is offered during Saturday and Sunday brunch (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.), is the coolest and swankiest option in D.C. It starts with your choice of base spirit: vodka infused with a fiery mix of fresh horseradish and spicy chilis, vodka infused with bacon -- the taste was more smoky than meaty -- or just regular vodka. (No matter which you choose, each cocktail costs $8. )

Once you have your pint glass of vodka and ice, you head to the bar to customize your drink with olives, slices of hot peppers and mounds of Old Bay and celery salt. Glass jars hold house-made pickles, long stalks of celery and fresh cucumbers, next to a ceramic bowl of pungent horseradish. A small selection of hot sauces is punched up by a jar of the tangy “Goin’ Postal” hot sauce, a nod to the building’s former use.

About the only misfire was the tepid house bloody mary mix. Take my advice and grab the carafe of fresh tomato juice instead, then shake in some of the zesty homemade Worcestershire sauce. Perfection.

-- Fritz Hahn (Oct. 27, 2011)