Harlow. A Portland-Worthy Bloody Mary?


Anyone who knows me knows that Portland is not my favorite city.  In fact, using the words Portland and favorite in the same sentence may still be overkill.  With its “Keep Portland Weird” mantra, you get this guy, this entire HuffPo tag, this guy’s encounter with hobo lesbians scissoring under an overpass, and this.  But that’s all okay.  Strange, perhaps, but still okay.  What I dislike is the homogeneity.  Too many people patting themselves on the back for being exact, smug replicas of each other.  It’s a bit like this South Park episode. However, what I can’t knock is the cocktails, food and, of course, the bloody marys.  From Mother’s Bistro & Bar to Genies Cafe, Portland serves up some of the best boozy tomato cocktails I’ve ever had.  So on a rather reluctant trip to my begrudged birth state, I weathered the cold to imbibe Harlow’s “Holy Terror Mary.”

Described as “Monopolowa vodka and our signature mary mix served on the rocks with a salt rim and house pickled vegetables,” the bloody mary at Harlow is as fresh and veggie-filled as the rest of the menu.  A rich tomato flavor carries a hint of slow-burning heat, and tiny mustard seed-like bubbles pop in your mouth.  Were they mustard seeds?  I don’t know.  Just pop, chew and enjoy the texture.  A big skewer of brightly colored house-pickled veg and two large citrus slices finish off this mason jarred bloody.

But while the freshness was apparent, I couldn’t help but think the seasoning was somewhat lacking.  With a name like “Holy Terror,” I expected more heat and bigger flavors.  And salt.  Definitely more salt.  And maybe pepper.  And maybe also something other than tomato.  You see, even if you’re not going for a spicy, complex or some other wacky rendition of this classic cocktail, anything this tomato-heavy needs a proper salty counterbalance.  And that just didn’t happen at Harlow.  But don’t be too discouraged, because salt is easy to come by.  And you’re just a few shakes away from elevating this bloody mary to a Portland-worthy serving status.

For its tomato-heavy “Holy Terror Mary,” Harlow earns 3 Celery Stalks.

Harlow 3632 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, Oregon 97214.  T: (971) 255-0138.

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