A friend of mine…

Give This Girl a (Midwestern) Drink

But, please, no ketchup in the Bloody Mary.

By Emma Breysse

A weekly blog feature in which we walk into a bar and ask the bartender to make us his or her favorite drink. Read more at www.seattleweekly.com/voracious.

The place: Matt’s in the Market, 94 Pike St., Suite 32, 467-7909, http://www.mattsinthemarket.com/.

The barkeep: Robbie McGrath.

Pick your poison: “My order is whatever your favorite drink is,” I say gamely, then find myself getting a little nervous at McGrath’s reaction. “That’s what you’re going to get,” he says with a fiendish grin. After some bustling about in the back room, he presents me with…a Bloody Mary with a snit. For those of you who, like me, didn’t grow up in the Midwest, a “snit” is a shot of beer meant to be either sipped in tandem with the Bloody Mary or dumped in and mixed.

Beer with a Bloody Mary? WTF? “I’m from Minnesota, and we have a local joke: If you’re snowed in and you run out of tomato juice for your Bloody Mary, use ketchup and beer.” Now, this concoction doesn’t use ketchup—just a nice thick tomato juice—but the beer is enough of an adventure for me.

In fact, a lot of things about this drink are a little different. “We don’t use vodka,” McGrath adds, pulling a bottle off the shelf behind him. “Instead, we use aquavit.” The bottle he places on the bar for my consideration confirms it.

So what’s aquavit? “It’s a Norwegian 80-proof liquor.” It seems Matt of Matt’s in the Market is a big fan. But am I a fan? For sip #1, I try the Bloody Mary on its own, and may I just say I’m never going back to vodka. The flavors blend well, and the drink isn’t harsh, just pleasantly spicy. For sip #2, I turn to the snit—first the Bloody Mary, then the beer. It’s good enough that I’m intrigued, and pour the rest of the beer in. For sip #3 I try the blended drink. The beer takes the edge off the tomato flavor without smothering it, and mixes well with the aquavit for a seriously tasty beverage. I offer a sip to my drinking companion, who warns me before she takes it that she doesn’t like beer. Then she agrees with me about the drink, making it four thumbs up for McGrath’s Midwestern joke.

So if they do such things where you come from, what brought you here? “I came out to visit my sister* six years ago.” (* = perfectly timed pause) It doesn’t take long to realize that snappy one-liners like this are McGrath’s specialty. With his Harry Potter–esque specs and his infectious grin, I find myself liking him almost as much as I like his Bloody Mary.

This really is fantastic—I even mixed in the beer! McGrath smiles at me and reaches behind him for the beer bottle. “You sit at my bar, I just may refill your snit,” he says, doing just that. “You never know when a blizzard might come though.”

Amen, brother! I’ll drink to that.

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