For bar-goers, it’s about bloody time

By Luke O’Neil
Globe Correspondent / July 7, 2010

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The restrictions on the ways in which alcohol can be sold in Massachusetts have long confounded bar-goers. But last week they were loosened somewhat with a new law that will allow bars and restaurants to serve alcohol two hours earlier on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m.

Dave Andelman, the creator of the “Phantom Gourmet,’’ was instrumental in lobbying for the bill. It will be a boon to a slumping restaurant industry, he says. “Restaurants only have a certain amount of real prime hours where they can make their money. A lot of it is on the beverage side. Restaurants need the help now.’’

So where should you exercise your expanded Bloody Mary horizons this weekend? At Deep Ellum infusing vodka with green peppers, cucumbers, celery, parsley, and garlic, and working steak sauce, smoked chilies and spicy dill green beans into the mix makes their bloody the best in the city, says co-owner Max Toste. “I would go against anyone in the city. I’ll bet anyone $100.’’

East Coast Grill is a contender. At their Bloody Mary bar, guests choose from a variety of vodkas and tomato juices (including their signature heat-charged “from Hell’’ option), vegetables like pickled okra, and hot sauces like their own “Inner Beauty.’’ “The Bloody Mary Bar is such a fun, interactive experience for guests,’’ says chef and owner Chris Schlesinger. “Our guests become the bartender and get to create their own idea of the perfect way to start a Sunday.’’

For his recipe at Burtons Grill, bar manager Chris Little uses a blend of Milagro silver tequila infused with roasted bell and hot peppers. “The subtle vegetal notes in the tequila play with the sweetness of the roasted red pepper as well as the spicy notes of the roasted jalapeno,’’ he says. Spice plays a big roll at the Friendly Toast as well, with their use of peperoncini and the hot sauce Sriracha. But it’s not the overpowering kind, says bar manager William Yerxa. “It’s more the ‘warm your insides’ kind of spice than the ‘clear your sinuses’ effect of Tabasco alone.’’

At Masa the Tequila Mary is another standout. The mixing base adds extra spice from a chipotle puree and cayenne pepper, and gets a meaty boost from beef bouillon. “Using tequila gives it a little bit more of a kick with the peppery flavor of the silver tequila,’’ says chef and owner Philip Aviles.

Worth getting up early for.

Burtons Grill, 1363 Boylston St., 617-236-2236; 94 Derby St., Hingham, 781-749-1007; 145 Turnpike St., North Andover, 978-688-5600

Deep Ellum, 477 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-787-2337

East Coast Grill & Raw Bar, 1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-491-6568

Masa, 439 Tremont St., 617-338-8884; 350 Cambridge Road, Woburn, 781-938-8886

The Friendly Toast, 1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, 617-621-1200

Luke O’Neil can be reached at