Crafty Bloody Marys

There are 13,000 different ways you can drink a Bloody Mary at The Met Restaurant Group’s five locations in New England.

A couple of years ago the group launched a Crafty Mary menu, which is served on weekends, both at the bars and with brunch. Guests build their personalized Bloody Mary from a menu, including the skewer of garnishes that goes across the top.

First guests choose the base spirit for their beverage from a list of vodkas, gins and tequilas ranging from $12 to $16. Next, they add their fixings. Some ingredients (celery, lime, lemon, olives, cocktail onions) are free; others are priced per item. For $1 guests can add skewered ingredients such as cornichons, hickory smoked bacon or caperberries; for $2.50 they can add clams; for $3 there’s a cheddar block, salami and cheese, and raw oysters; for $5 there’s shrimp or a mini cheeseburger; and for $8, lobster. The kitchen sink costs $2 and includes all the basics plus some surprise extras.

Met Restaurant Group owner Kathy Sidell was inspired to launch the Crafty Mary menu after a trip to Montreal during which she saw guests sipping bloody marys with crab legs in them. She returned stateside and introduced them at Met Back Bay in Boston, and once the venue had tinkered with it, soon launched them in the other four venues. Sales of Crabbing Marys were OK but not great, Sidell says, so she introduced shrimp and lobster. In a twist of irony, the crab bloody marys were soon pulled from the menu.

The menu grew organically, with ideas for ingredients coming from staff and guests. Now – in addition to the skewered items – guests can also add rim seasonings (sea salt and pepper, Old Bay, bacon salt, etc.), mixers (Met Bloody Mary Mix or Met Clamato) and Heat and Tang sauces, which are served with the drink in an eye dropper so guests can control how much they add. These sauces include Tabasco, Worcestershire, horseradish, Sriracha and wasabi.

Offering Crafty Marys has increased Bloody Mary sales appreciably: at least 35%, according to Sidell.

“Most customers go to town with them,” she says, “They go to extremes and really deck it out. I see very few that just have a celery stick in them. People are very engaged.”

The most popular additions are the burger (“which is liked for the wow factor,” she says) as well as salami, lobster, shrimp, oyster and Sriracha.

“We’ve become known for these,” Sidell points out.

Bloody Mary sales were good before this program was launched but the venues now sell more and they’re more expensive. Bloody Marys used to cost around $10 but now they’re now a minimum of $12. The Crafty Bloody Marys are decent profit makers, she says, with food costs of 21% to 22% compared to typical food costs of closer to 17%.

Bloody Mary aficionados and neophytes can experiment with the Crafty Mary menu at one of the five following Massachusetts Met Restaurant Group locations: The Metropolitan Club in Chestnut Hill, The MET Bar & Grill with two locations in Dedham and Natick, Met on Main in Nantucket, and The Met Back Bay on Newbury Street in Boston.

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