Cocktail Challenge: Cheez Whiz | Cocktail Challenge | Chicago Reader

Cocktail Challenge: Cheez Whiz 

The Revel Room's Robbie Guevara riffs on "a Bloody Mary without the Bloody Mary."

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Cheez Whiz Bloody Scotsman

Cheez Whiz Bloody Scotsman

Dustin Park

"You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find it," Revel Room bartender Robbie Guevara said, shaking his head. Challenged by Nick Ostapczuk (Bangers & Lace) to make a drink with Cheez Whiz, he'd scoured the city before finally locating some of the processed cheese spread (not to be confused with Easy Cheese, the spray-on stuff) at one particular Dominick's.

Things didn't get much easier from there. Apart from its viscosity—"It just does not blend, no matter what you try," he lamented—Cheez Whiz has such a distinctive processed taste and smell that Guevara found he simply couldn't mask it. On the other hand, he didn't want it showcased. So he went for a "savory, salty" profile to try and complement the cheddarlike flavor, arriving at what he called "a Bloody Mary without the Bloody Mary."

That didn't just mean no vodka. A Bloody Mary, Guevara explained, has "tons of Worcestershire, tons of hot sauce, maybe horseradish, a lot of tomato juice" and "these days, a crazy garnish." His riff on the drink tones down the seasonings while drawing on the smoky, peaty qualities of scotch to "round out the characteristic of cheddar. I hope."

He started with the tomato juice. Since he didn't want it to have "too fresh of a flavor," he used whole peeled canned tomatoes, cooking them down with rendered bacon fat, some caraway seeds and fresh basil, and a little red jalapeño. For his spirit, Guevara went with Scottish Leader, a blended scotch that's "balanced, not superpeaty or supersmoky," he said.

But the real key to the cocktail is technique: you need to shake vigorously and double strain "as best you can," he warned, because "the cheese does solidify." Best drink it up quickly, too.

Cheez Whiz Bloody Scotsman

1/4 oz lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Heavy dash of Tabasco
Two dashes Worcestershire sauce
Heavy bar spoon of Cheez Whiz
1 1/2 oz seasoned tomato juice
1 oz scotch
Mexican-style chile powder, bacon, and jalapeño slices, for garnish

Combine ingredients, add ice, and vigorously shake for about 15 seconds. Double strain into a ten-ounce rocks glass filled with ice, pressing down with a spoon to force the Cheez Whiz dregs through the strainer. Garnish with a sprinkling of the chile powder and a skewer of bacon and jalapeño.

Who's Next:

Guevara has challenged his coworker Rachael Smith, also of the Four Seasons, to make a drink with sardines, "reason being she has a tattoo of one on her wrist," he said.

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