Tinamarie Cantanese of Baiting Hollow brought a mason jar of freshly squeezed tomato juice to stand out among the competition. And Bridget Senefelder of Miller Place hoped a bottle of Jim Beam Devil’s Cut 90 would get her noticed.
No, a can of V8 juice and a celery stalk wasn’t going to cut it for the the judges in the bloody mary contest at the second annual North Fork Horseradish Festival on Sunday.
But once John Barci of West Babylon broke out his garnish — a trio of snow crab claws and straws made of bacon — he ensured his dominance in the competition.
“I think the presentation pushed him over the edge,” said Christine Gerani of SpotOnMagazine.com, one of the contest judges. “You can’t beat the claw.”
Barci, who has competed in barbecue and bloody mary contests across the U.S. also added a bit of liquid smoke, barbecue rub and of course, horseradish, to give his cocktail a little kick. The resulting combo earned him first place in the event.
“It’s called the Tennessee Mary,” Barci told northforker. “It’s a classic bloody mary with a southern twist.”
He took home a case of LIV vodka for his efforts. The company sponsored the event.
The contest was just one of the festivities scheduled for a day celebrating this root vegetable with eastern European origins at Long Ireland Beer Co. in Riverhead. The second annual festival featured fresh ground horseradish from Holy Schmitt’s, horseradish empanadas, horseradish pickles and more.
The event has roots in an annual informal gathering of Riverhead residents who meet to peel, cut and grate horseradish. Keeping with tradition, the group met for a much smaller event at Long Ireland earlier this month.
See photos from Sunday’s event below.