Black Cat Bistro, near the corner of Abbot Road and Albert Avenue in downtown East Lansing, feels a little out of place. In a bar scene that seems to be catering more and more to the get-drunk-and-try-to-get-laid culture, the European-style café, along with Beggar’s Banquet, just around the corner, is an island of elegance adrift in a sea of AXE body spray.

I’m a sucker for a good bloody mary. Several people had told me that the food at Black Cat Bistro was really good, but once I heard about the café’s selection of specialty bloody marys, I knew I had to investigate. The bar’s impressive cocktail menu includes four bloody mary variations. In addition to a Classic Mary, it also serves a Voodoo Mary with Cajun spices and molasses and a Sunshine Mary made with carrot juice. But my favorite is the Thai Mary.

This concoction features tomato juice, red curry, lime juice, cilantro and sriracha, that hipster hot sauce with the rooster on it. I expected a lot of spice when I read the ingredient list, but the cooling cilantro is the perfect counter-balance to the sriracha and curry. The spice is there, but it never overwhelms the palate. The drink is garnished with olives, a pickle spear and slices of orange and lemon. You can add a “Benny’s Original Meat Straw” for $2, but I’m a little weirded out by the phrase “meat straw,” so that’s a hard pass.

The bloody mary is probably the most divisive drink I can think of — it’s like the Virg Bernero of cocktails. You either love them or hate them; no one is lukewarm about bloody marys. For the tomato-averse crowd, the café serves up six Moscow mule variations that are probably fantastic. I’ve never tried one, because ordering one would mean not ordering one of my beloved bloodys.

— Ty Forquer

Black Cat Bistro

11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday;
11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; bar stays open until midnight daily
115 Albert Avenue, East Lansing
(517) 580-3821,

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