Dining With Denise Neil

Tiny south-side bar named bloody mary champ at Botanica contest

The winning bloody mary at Thursday’s Blooms, Brews & Bloody Marys was made by The Store, a small bar at Harry and Hillside.
The winning bloody mary at Thursday’s Blooms, Brews & Bloody Marys was made by The Store, a small bar at Harry and Hillside. The Wichita Eagle

All the fancy Wichita bars and restaurants were competing to make the best bloody mary at Thursday night’s Blooms, Brews & Bloody Marys, a fundraiser now in its third year at Botanica.

But the winner, determined by a people’s choice vote, was a small bar many people may not have heard of: The Store, which sits behind the Dog-N-Shake at Harry and Hillside. (The address is 3210 E. Osie.)

The Store’s bloody mary, competing against the likes of The Anchor, Molino’s, Mort’s, the Candle Club and the Crestview Country Club, won in a landslide, said Jon Pic, Botanica’s director of marketing and communications.

The Store owner Donna Binns was still giddy about the win on Friday morning. This is the first time she’s participated in any type of fundraiser or contest, she said. She’s owned The Store, which seats about 60, for 10 years, and in that time, she’s become “known all over town” for her bloody marys, she said. Her beer rep suggested she get in on the Botanica competition.

“Us little bitty folks won,” she said, laughing.

The bloody mary that The Store served on Thursday is made with about 25 ingredients, Binns said, and it was garnished with a toothpick full of goodness, including a gherkin, an olive, a shrimp and a bite of beef jerky.

But her secret is a Greek seasoning called Cavendar’s.

“I swear by it,” she said. “I cook with it. I do everything with it.”

Thursday’s event sold out and it was was the best attended in its three year history, Pic said. It filled the garden on a beautiful spring night with more than 800 people, who strolled the grounds sampling bloody marys made by nine different local restaurants and bars.

Each offered its own twist, but the most visual might have been the bloody mary served by Whiskey Dicks, another small bar, at 801 S. Seneca. It was garnished with a mini-cheeseburger on a stick, and the line to get one was long all night.

Take a look at my slide show above to see pictures from the event.

  Comments