Let me start this post by stating that I do not drink very often.
But I do enjoy bloody marys now and then – never more than when I’m on vacation. Especially spicy ones. And a couple years ago I discovered a bloody mary on Disney property that was spicy enough to make it memorable, and a go-to drink every time I visit now.
It also started a quest spanning several vacations. Since that day I’ve been on the hunt for the spiciest bloody mary I can find at Walt Disney World. One that will melt my face, but leave me happy. It’s not all about the heat – it’s also got to have good flavor. This is the tricky balance that fuels my eternal search.
It all started at the ESPN Club on the Boardwalk a couple years ago. I was having dinner with Amy and my father-in-law, David. I decided to see if they could make a good spicy blood mary. Without looking at the menu, I asked the waiter if he could have the bartender spice it up a bit. He said, “sure,” and went on his way.
When he returned he brought this:
See that jalapeno across the top? That should’ve been a tip-off that I was about to be punished. Turns out this is a normal offering at the ESPN Club called the Bloody Mulligan.
I grabbed the straw and took a sip. I immediately started hiccuping. The heat was something I hadn’t experienced before. I’m not a particularly experienced “hot food guy.” But I do like a little pain once in a while. This drink was bringing it. My eyes started to water, I screwed my face up in what was no-doubt a comical expression of pain and joy, and hiccuped. My father-in-law started laughing, and asked me if it was hot enough.
I hit some water, waited for the hiccups to subside, chewed up a little ice, and then went in for a second sip.
Instant hiccups. This was crazy. It was, hands-down, my favorite bloody mary of all time. It brought waves of pain, but also a delicious, peppery flavor. I filed this information away for future use. I knew I’d be back for more on future trips.
After that experience, the chase was on. Could it be topped? I decided to test bartenders around the property to see if they could meet the challenge: Make me regret ordering a bloody mary, while simultaneously putting a smile on my face.
The next attempt came at a rather unexpected time: breakfast.
We had ADRs for breakfast at the Kona Cafe in the Poly. I scanned the menu and saw something that jumped out at me: breakfast bloody mary. I ordered one up, and asked the waitress if it could be made extra spicy. When it was brought to the table, she also placed a small cup of red sauce next to it.
“Chili sauce in case it’s not to your liking,” she said.
It was not. So I dumped the chili sauce into the drink, stirred it up and took a sip. Now it was perfect. The flavor was completely different from the Bloody Mulligan. It had more of a vegetable aftertaste, like a V-8: Salty, with strong celery overtones. The added chili sauce brought the temperature up nicely, and I left happy. It didn’t top the ESPN offering, but I was still pleased with how my quest was progressing.
A side note: If you drink a bloody mary and then follow it up with a cup of teeth-jarring Kona coffee, you will suffer from absolutely volcanic heartburn. There is a safety net, however. Directly across from Kona is a shop that sells Tums. Sure, they might be $4 per-teeny roll, but if you want to survive your own breakfast bloody mary/Kona coffee experience, I advise picking one up.
Over the years I’ve tried a few others. The bloody mary at the Yak & Yeti was not spicy at all, despite requests to make it so.
The first day on a trip just last year, I returned to the ESPN Club to revisit the scene of my palate-melting joy. I asked the server: “Can I get a Bloody Mulligan, but extra spicy, please?”
She brought this:
Shockingly, I was completely underwhelmed. It was not hot. It did not make me weep with regret. I was not pleased. My travel mates were eager to see me brought to my knees, so they urged me to try a second.
This time I ordered the drink as I would from that point on: “This was not hot enough. Can I get another one, but can you ask the bartender to make it so I hate it? Can you make it hot enough that I will regret ever asking for it?”
The second round brought exactly what I had hoped for – a recreation of that first drink. Delicious agony gripped me as I shook my head back and forth, trying to somehow escape the pain while savoring the tangy, peppery tomato flavors.
I would repeat this again on future trips:
On the next trip, I slurped the searing concoction with renewed vigor. The flavors danced across my taste buds wearing tiny golf shoes dipped in molten lava. I was sure I’d be scarred for life. I wasn’t, of course, and I strolled the boardwalk afterward as my head swum from the awakening of my senses by this punitive delight.
On still another trip I met friends Stephen and Judy there. They had heard me speak of this self-flagellation, and so I demonstrated:
By now it was becoming routine. Order the drink, ask them to make it so hot that I hate it, and revel in the self-induced pain.
There were other locations: I tried to top the Bloody Mulligan at any number of restaurants and bars across Disney property, but I was always drawn back to the ESPN Club to reacquaint myself with my first love.
Most recently I was happy to see the Patriots (I am from New England) pummel the NY Jets. Of course, recent history has taken some of the joy off this mid-season victory, but in early December, all the planets aligned. I grabbed a booth on a Monday night – a miracle in itself – and shook hands with an old friend: “Make it hot enough so I hate it, please.”
It was, and I did. I hate it. I loved it. It was a great night.
I visited with my Disney friend Rosie, Mousejunkie Walt, Walt’s old college roommate and my friend Stephen. The Patriots won, and my innards revolted as I splashed them with flames throughout the night.
I’ve put some serious research into my quest for the perfect extra spicy bloody mary, but I like to think my quest has yet to come to an end. At this point I’d have to say the Bloody Mulligan at the ESPN Club is in the lead, but there are plenty of other establishments to check-off my list before I reach the finish line.
Keep in mind that there’s “hot” and then there’s “Disney hot,” as I was told by a cast member recently. If you intend to engage in self-inflicted cocktail damage, you’ve got to think beyond “Disney hot.” My advice? Try it and report back. Help me along the way, before my liver quits and jumps out my ear.