The 10 Best Bloody Marys in America (Slideshow)
#10 King Cole Bar — New York, NY
According to the King Cole Bar, the original version of the Bloody Mary had its genesis in a drink called "The Red Snapper," which arrived to the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel in New York via bartender Ferdinand Petiot. The drink started as a simple mixture of vodka and tomato juice; far from the rich and spicy mixture served as the Bloody Mary today. The King Cole bloody of today is a balanced combination of the classic bloody ingredients, with a simple, clean presentation.
#9 Berries in the Grove — Miami, FL
Not only has Berries in the Grove continued to arrive on shortlists of Miami's best Bloody Marys, the cocktail retains much of the Bloody Mary's original form: Worcestershire sauce, L'Chaim kosher vodka, horseradish, and all the traditional garnishes; while remaining affordable in a landscape dotted with pricey brunch menus and $30 kitchen-sink cocktails.
#8 Steubens — Denver, CO
A Denver favorite, the Bloody Mary’s at Steubens strike the perfect balance in texture. Not thinned out with too much booze or over-strained juice, the bloody's here are weighty but not soupy. There's a reason they remain the reigning champs of mountain country Bloody Marys.
#7 Johnny White's — New Orleans
Johnny White’s appears on our national list not only for the continuously glowing reviews, but for its intangible elements. Joanna Lioce, bartender of Vesuvio Café in San Francisco; another famous Bloody Mary spot, explains it this way:
“I don’t know if it’s the all night drinking culture, the fact that you can smoke, or the man next to you at the bar with a parrot on his shoulder, but that Bloody Mary really brings you to someplace nice.”
Johnny White’s Bloody Mary iteration speaks to America’s love not only of the Bloody Mary as a malleable platform for the craft cocktail, bu as a Sunday morning comfort food.
#6 Hattie's Hat — Seattle, WA
There is certainly room for innovation within the Bloody Mary, and the fine barkeeps at Hattie's make room for these modernized versions of the classic by providing several Bloody Mary options on their menu, but we're concerned primarily with their classic Bloody Mary. There is hardly a top-10 Bloody Mary list in the Northwest that Hattie's does not appear on. The Hattie's classic Bloody Mary fulfills all the human, personal necessities of the Bloody Mary: it's simple, you get what you pay for, the presentation is reliable, and the result is always the same. Happy Sunday!
#5 FIG — Santa Monica, CA
The winning combination that makes one bloody recipe a cut above the rest is often a fiercely guarded secret. That is why the bartender at FIG keeps his recipe under wraps. According to the L.A. Weekly, bartender Richard Horne has crafted a secret recipe that continues to fire up Sunday brunchers in Santa Monica, Calif. week after week. While their once-famous Foie Marys (which featured a foie gras puree as part of their mix) are now illegal, points have been given to FIG's classic Bloody Mary for its popularity, presentation, and imminent drinkability.
#4 Tweet Let's Eat — Chicago, IL
The Bloody Marys at Tweet Let's Eat bar in Chicago are another excellent example of maintaining the classic quality and structure of the Bloody Mary cocktail, while tactfully advancing critical flavor aspects of the drink. Here, the Tweet bloody's have expanded the spicy aspect of the bloody profile to include wasabi, sriracha, and poblano peppers, while maintaining a strong balance of the booze and tomato flavor.
#3 South Congress Cafe — Austin, TX
Along the hip stretch of bars and boutiques that line South Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas, sits a heavyweight among brunch hotspots. The Bloody Marys at South Congress Cafe are a complete package: finely crafted, balanced, and pushing the genre forward just enough with pepper-infused vodka from Austin's own Tito Vodka brand. When served in a tall glass alongside a plate of migas, your life will be forever changed.
#2 Prune — New York, NY
Prune is serious enough about the craft of Bloody Mary making to include an entire menu dedicated to their inspired variations. Pressed against the fierce competition of New York City bars, a million bloody's would gladly take Prune's place but none have succeeded. Their bloody menu features a wide breadth of varieties, from inspired re-interpretations that include replacing tomato juice with beef bouillon in the Bloody Bullshot, to the salad-heavy Chicago Matchbox that includes pickled Brussel sprouts, caper berries, and radishes.
#1 Zeitgeist — San Francisco, CA
The last word on the matter of Bloody Marys is that there is no last word. The cocktail has been transformed from a humble mixture of tomato juice and vodka into a symbol of both the classic and the outrageous in mixology, as well as placing a finer point on many bruncher's Sunday afternoon soirees. So how did this spicy, classic Bloody Mary make it to the very top of our list? Among the two dozen lists we've consulted, the Zeitgeist Bloody Mary appeared more consistently than any other establishment. Zeitgeist won points for its clean and unpretentious presentation, its hearty and strong mixture that never wanders into soupy-ness, and its fine balance of spice, texture, and booze. Lastly, it is the intangibles that win out: this Bloody Mary posseses a certain something that places it in a category all its own. The Zeitgeist Bloody Mary captures not only the perfect balance of its classic profile, but it captures its soul as well.