Dont Hold The Mayo
By Steve CroylePublished October 25, 2012
In 2008, the iconic Taj Mahal restaurant at 2321 North High opened Taj Bar and Lounge by simply expanding into the adjoining building. Manager Chris Spinato has set about establishing Taj Bar as a nightlife sweet spot where they endeavor to embrace what he refers to as “accessible mixology.”
Part of that concept involves turning bartender Mitchell Thompson loose to create things like the BLT Cocktail, where the greatest sandwich known to man collides with vodka.
“Wednesday nights can be a bit slow, “Mitch explains, “so I try to keep things interesting. We were looking at this bacon infused vodka and I was trying to think of a way to use it. The BLT was obvious.”
Mitchell didn’t mail this one in by simply sloshing a little Bloody Mary mix into a shaker full of baconated booze and adorning it with a useless sliver of lettuce. The guy isn’t wired that way. We’re talking about a bar that makes its own celery bitters, features a jalapeno-infused syrup, and soaks skewers of garnish in vermouth.
When Mitchell decided to put a BLT into a glass, he had to go all in.
“I wanted to represent the sandwich,” he said.
So Mitchell comes to the bar equipped with his own bag of goodies. He blends lettuce into tomato juice, fries up some bacon, shreds some iceberg, and grabs the mayo.
Yes, that’s right, mayonnaise. In a drink.
I was skeptical about the mayo, but Mitchell seemed to know what he was doing as he assembled my beverage. He moves as though he’s made thousands of them. Vodka, tomato juice, shake, shake, pour. Then he takes a healthy pinch of shredded lettuce and dresses it with a dollop of mayo in a shot glass. The loose ball of mayo-laden lettuce is carefully eased atop the drink. A respectable slice of bacon is deployed as a garnish. It looks fantastic, but it’s not the final product.
“It’s not a sandwich without bread,” Mitch notes as he gingerly floats two seasoned croutons atop this unique martini.
It’s fantastic. The cold vodka tones the viscosity of the juice down and it’s like biting into a fresh tomato. A wonderful seedless tomato that makes you want to do karaoke. The croutons deliver a welcome crunch, and the bacon is bacon. You either love it, or … you simply can’t be trusted by the rest of humanity.
What makes the drink, however, is the mayonnaise.
I thought about avoiding it, but Mitchell didn’t spent all that time on it just so I could be a baby – down the hatch it went. Bliss. The creaminess of the mayo just works. It ties everything together, much like it does on the actual sandwich.
I had two and would have ordered more, but for now, this is a Wednesday Special and I was pressing Mitchell to crank these drinks out on a busy Friday night. His supplies were limited, and people were asking about my cocktail with thirsty lust. I didn’t want to force him into a grocery run, but it was damn tempting.
Supplies could be even more limited going forward. Chris delivered the news that the bacon vodka they use was discontinued. I was despondent. It’s always sad to learn about a death in the bacon family, but Mitchell shrugged and said he’d just have to make his own bacon-infused vodka. I suggested that he could probably pull it of with a little liquid smoke. He looked at me in disgust.
People wouldn’t know, I explained. “I’d know,” he said. “I can’t fake it.”
Taj Bar & Lounge
2321 N High St.