I have been instructed to arrive with a hangover, and in this regard, I have failed. It's early Saturday afternoon, and under the guidance of a Fremont resident, I am at the Red Door to research the Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar—apparently a richer and more meaningful experience if it provides the hair of the proverbial dog that clamped on pit-bull style the night before.
The day can't decide whether to be sunny or possibly rain, and the light pouring through the Red Door's huge windows shifts dramatically. For the hung-over, sunglasses might be a good idea, though that would pretty much brand you as a freak—the Northwesty, befleeced twenty- and thirtysomethings here have been ordered up from the most benign division of central casting. Extras in movies allegedly mouth the word "watermelon" for realistic-looking background conversation; the patrons all appear to be doing this, except for a lacrosse team, its members wet, picturesquely bedraggled, and prone to shouting. Each and every player who arises from the configuration of shoved-together tables throughout the afternoon seems to have sustained some sort of hobbling injury, yet their collective spirit is admirably buoyant.
The only guy who stands out works here. He's rocking a spiffy, if difficult to interpret, look: sharp architectural eyeglasses, a lime-green Lacoste polo shirt, and sneakers with matching lime-green crocodile-skin inlays. His pants are nondescript. He informs us that the party milling around beneath some red balloons in the corner is in the first stage of a pub crawl to benefit multiple sclerosis. They're mostly pretty girls who're already significantly drunker than their boy counterparts. Each crawler wears a spill-proof laminated punch card with the day's goals printed on it, e.g., chug a pint, buy a shot for someone you don't know, obtain an article of clothing (also from a stranger), kiss somebody (double points if it's a bartender, as if that's some sort of challenge).
Building your own bloody mary involves receiving a pint glass of ice, half full of Finlandia vodka, then having your way with a station stocked with Clamato, bloody mary mix, cocktail onions and pickled green beans and limes and olives and the like (sadly, none of the rare pickled asparagus), Old Bay spice mix, Worcestershire, horseradish, and approximately 57 assorted hot sauces of the world. When my vodka is delivered, I am already midway through a barbecued pork sandwich that's billed as hand pulled and slow smoked; it sounds dirty and tastes good. It's messy without being oversauced and rife with entirely appropriate chunks of fat clinging to the meat. In tandem with a big spicy drink, its curative powers would surely be formidable. The bloody mary I eventually build is terrible—all weird and watery due to ice meltage. (My guide's, constructed in a timely manner, is excellent.) It's my own damn fault. I blame my sandwich.
Build your own bloody mary at the Red Door, 3401 Evanston Ave N, 547-7521, Sat–Sun 11 am–5 pm.