Those Midwesterners

“Is this a Chicago thing?” I asked the bartender as he popped open a tiny bottle of beer and placed it in front of me.
“More of a Midwestern thing,” he said.
I’m just glad it’s a thing.
See, it was 10 in the morning and I had just ordered not a beer, but a Bloody Mary. The beer came as no surprise though. In fact, I was expecting it. And looking forward to it.
In Chicago, and apparently throughout the Midwest, a Bloody Mary is served with a beer chaser. They call it a sidekick, sometimes a side car, and it’s usually served in a small glass, perhaps 5 or 6 ounces, or in this case, a small bottle designed exclusively for this purpose.
Don’t feel bad. I had never heard of it either until my son, who lives in Chicago, and his fiancee (now wife, as of last Saturday) took us to brunch at the famed Publican restaurant last year. Brunch and Bloody Mary are pretty much synonymous to me and I was pleased to hear the girl my son chose to marry agree. “But you’ll need to pick out a beer,” she said pointing to the menu where three offerings were listed.
That was my first exposure to a sidekick, and I was hooked right off the bat.
So when one of our duties (my wife and I) for Michael’s and Ashley’s wedding last weekend was to arrange for Sunday brunch the morning after, the Publican was the only venue on my list. Unfortunately they do not take large groups on Sundays.
I sought Ashley’s help, telling her she had to find a place with Bloody Marys and she said she sure did.
We wound up at The Farmhouse, one of her faves, which bills itself as a “farm to tavern” establishment.
The food and service were exceptional, but it was the sight of that tiny beer first thing in the morning that told me we had chosen wisely.
Now, if only we can make this a Northeastern Pennsylvania thing.

Ed Ackerman