The 12 Absolute Best Bloody Marys In The US

The Bloody Mary recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. This revitalizing cocktail is believed to have been invented by Fernand Petiot at Harry's Bar in Paris in 1921, at the dawn of the roaring '20s. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and other luminaries are known to have enjoyed this timeless tipple.

The recipe was first published in "Harry's ABC of Cocktails." But in the intervening hundred years, Bloody Mary recipes have stretched far beyond the basic combination of vodka and tomato juice. From tantalizing spice mixes to over-the-top adornments, the Bloody Mary has stirred the imagination of mixologists everywhere, awakened generations of the brunching masses, and helped overcome a hangover or two (kajillion).

Whether served by a drag queen or simply too hot to handle, the Bloody Mary can take you for a wild ride. Let's explore some of America's most inventive, refreshing, and downright crazy takes on the classic brunch drink.

Dante - New York City

Just like the Bloody Mary, Dante is a restaurant that's been around for a century. Originally Caffe Dante, the Greenwich Village eatery served as a place where Italian immigrants and later bohemian artists and writers would meet. Today, photos of the original space adorn the walls of the registered New York City landmark, along with other notables names who have frequented its tables: Robert Mapplethorpe, Patti Smith, Whoopi Goldberg, and Al Pacino, among many others.

When creating the All Day Bloody Mary, the chefs at Dante found that Bloody Marys could often be stodgy. So they experimented with various juicers to create the perfect texture, finally settling on a cold press juicer to process garden-grown tomatoes, carrots, red bell pepper, cucumber, lemon, and celery. After the mixture soaks overnight, bartenders add dashes of red and green Tabasco sauces, fennel salt, fresh horseradish, and a skewer of pepperoncini, cherry tomato, and cornichon. Using anise-flavored Ricard and Reyka vodka for a crisp, clean finish, this cocktail is light, aromatic, and refreshing. And, as its name suggests, you can (and should) order it at any hour.

Spoon and Stable - Minneapolis

Back when the Bloody Mary was invented, the building in the North Loop of Minneapolis that now houses one of Food & Wine's "Restaurants of the Year" was a horse stable. Today, with its James Beard Award-winning head chef and owner Gavin Kaysen at the helm, the restaurant serves up seasonal ingredients that celebrate Midwestern cuisine, all with a French twist. For brunch, think koginut squash and broccoli quiche, a short stack of buckwheat pancakes with foie gras mousse, or a sorghum waffle with seasonal fruit and vanilla cream.

Spoon and Stable's head bartender Robb Jones creates the Bloody Mary base from ripe red tomatoes, finely grated fresh horseradish, chopped dill, English cucumber, fresh lemon juice, and crumbled dried shiitakes. For a botanical twist, order your Bloody Mary with aquavit, the signature spirit of Scandanavia (You can also choose vodka, tequila, or gin). A lemon wedge, cucumber slice, and dill sprigs top off the revitalizing concoction, and you can order a beer back to make it even more of a celebration.

CC's Kitchen - Louisville, Kentucky

Want your Bloody Mary with a side of whimsy? You've come to the right place. CC's Kitchen is an inclusive, kitschy, carefree place. For example, the turtle cheesecake is served in a chocolate hand-decorated high-heeled shoe. On the menu, cocktails are called "magic water for fun people."

It's true: Only fun people can appreciate CC's Bloody Mary creation, a 64-ounce behemoth called The Beast. To get to the housemade mix and vodka, you'll have to work your way around a whole fried chicken, two corndogs, several sausages, shrimp, cubes of cheese, olives, whole pickles, french fries, accompanying dipping sauces, and cotton candy. The Beast is available every day, but it's even better when enjoyed at CC's weekend Drag Brunch. This monstrosity will set you back $50, but as owner Corey Milliman said, "I thought Kentucky needed some over-the-top Bloody Marys." Now that's a vision board we can all get behind.

Prubechu - San Francisco

Prubechu brings the flavors of Guam and the Mariana Islands to San Francisco's Mission District. Chamorro cuisine is an amalgamation of indigenous foods and the colonial influences of Spain, Japan, and America. Guam's tradition of "fiesta tables" inspires the atmosphere and menu of Prubechu.

For a Guamanian-inspired Bloody Mary, the restaurant starts with sequoia jalapeno- and wasabi-infused sake and includes a skewer of pickled bittermelon, turmeric daikon, and rakkyo (pickled shallots), with a kimchi spice rim. Esquire called Prubechu's Bloody Mary part of an Asian American cocktail renaissance. And, as historian Jack Tchen said, "the word 'renaissance' is a good one, because, if you think of the Harlem Renaissance, it wasn't just people trying to make money. Langston Hughes was not trying to make money. It was something far more meaningful. He was trying to create a new culture ... And that's what's going on now with these Asian-American mixologists."

While you're at Prubechu, you can buy a jarred version of its Bloody Mary to take the renaissance home with you.

Genie's Cafe - Portland, Oregon

Loved by Portlanders for brunch, Genie's Cafe serves local farm-raised meats, cage-free eggs, and Oregon produce whenever possible. When it comes to your Bloody Mary, even the skewered pickled produce may change based on the season.

If you need extra spice in your life, visit Genie's when the Scorpion Bloody is on the menu. The vodka is infused with Trinidad moruga scorpion pepper, one of the spiciest (though deceptively slow-burning) chilis in the world. Packed with the heat of approximately 400 jalapenos (two million Scoville units), don't be fooled by the sweet fruity flavor or Thai seasoned salt rim. Save your pineapple, cherry tomato, lemon, lime, pepperoncini, and peppadew garnishes to help cool you down as you sip.

In case you need a reminder of how menacing this unassuming concoction can be, Genie's helpfully tops it off with a visual reminder: a dried scorpion. Not to worry — the scorpion's venom dissipates in the drying process, and what's left is high in protein.

Revel - Seattle

Run by James Beard Award-winning husband-and-wife duo Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Revel fancies itself "a new approach to everyday Korean food." At its in-house bar Quoin, specialty cocktails are poured late into the evening. The kimchi Bloody Mary starts with its house kimchi and is garnished with pickled green beans, olives, and a lime wedge.

Says Yang: "We make all our house kimchis. It's just something about when you ferment it and then chop it up and put it into batter, it just does its magic. It's just like a flavor that cannot be ever duplicated by just mixing any kind of ingredients. It's just that the whole fermentation gives great depth of flavor. It's awesome."

Awesome, indeed. The juices rendered by the kimchi fermentation process impart a subtle spice, refreshing saltiness, and deep red color to the Bloody Mary. The spice mixture includes dried gochugaru chiles and other aromatics like garlic and onion. It's the perfect complement to a dish like the short rib rice bowl, lemongrass-fed ribeye, or tsuyu-braised Alaskan cod.

The Little Darlin' - Austin

The vodka is house-infused, the spice mix is housemade, and the garnishes include cheese, olives, and pickled pepper, but what truly makes this Bloody Mary special is the surrounding ambiance: a dog-friendly patio, lawn games, and live music.

As co-owner Brian Buscemi put it, the venue was designed to bring Austin back to itself. "Sometime over the past 20 years or so the whole idea of keeping Austin weird [became] manufactured and almost commercial in a way. We felt like if we were gonna open a spot it would be the kind of place we grew up hanging out in," he told Community Impact. The menu is down-to-earth, with Texas favorites like country fried steak with potato-mushroom hash and black pepper gravy or a fried chicken sandwich with sweet and sour coleslaw. But you'll also find refined favorites like a goat cheese salad or Korean tempeh. 

If you want a little extra Austin weirdness, you can order a Michelada at the Little Darlin' that comes accompanied with a Bloody Mary popsicle.

Redbird - Los Angeles

Created by bartender Tobin Shea, Redbird's Modern Mary combines clarified tomato and lemon juices with tangy white balsamic, fennel, basil, pepper vodka, and a little soda water. Subtle and sophisticated, the Modern Mary is a pinkies-up affair. In 2017, Shea was awarded Time Out's Best Restaurant Bar program, so you know you're in good hands. 

The libation's cloudy color results from straining the tomato water through muslin, removing the red particles and lightening the flavor substantially (It's also lower in calories than the original). You might even call this mary bloodless. You can also order a traditional Bloody Mary at this downtown cathedral-turned-event-spot, which the menu describes as "tomato, horseradish, Worcestershire, lemon, pepper," and the "usual suspects." But why be usual when you can be extraordinary?

At brunch, nosh on duck confit chilaquiles with mole, ricotta blueberry pancakes with Berkshire maple syrup, or a fried egg sandwich with harissa aioli and gruyere. Each seasonal dish is meant to reflect the many culinary influences of Los Angeles and is perfect for sharing with the whole table.

Stingray's Grill and Bar - New Orleans

Close to the shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain, Stingray's specializes in made-to-order seafood and is far enough away from Bourbon Street that it's not overrun with tourists. However, it's worth making the trip to Kenner for the Insta-worthy Crabby Mary, which the restaurant describes as a cocktail and meal in one.

Here, your drink looks back at you. The Crabby Mary is topped with a fried soft shell crab that's got olives for eyes, a lemon wedge for a mouth, green beans for antennae, and fried shrimp and hush puppies for ... fun! 

Stingray's has a separate Facebook album just for patrons enjoying the Crabby Mary. One visitor said, "it was so cute, I almost didn't want to disturb it." It's no wonder neighbors have gathered here for laughter, conversation, and Cajun dishes for decades. Everything is made fresh in-house, including all the seafood batters and pasta sauces. You won't be disappointed.

Oink Cafe - Tucson

At Oink Cafe in Tucson, bacon isn't a side dish but a way of life. Sample the bacon in its extensive list of breakfast scrambles and sandwiches, or just order a flight of all eight flavors: apple cider, applewood smoked, chef's choice, hickory, honey cured, jalapeño, pepper, and sugar cured.

While you're doing flights, order a Bloody Mary flight, consisting of four of the house's six recipes. But don't miss the Verde Mary, a blend of freshly juiced cucumbers, jalapeños, and tomatillos mixed with cucumber lime vodka. There's no pork in this Bloody Mary, but you probably won't miss it. And if you do, order the Oink Bacon Bloody Mary or Oink Bacon Michelada instead. The Bloody Maria also comes with a chicharron, so your bloody-and-bacon bases are all covered.

For a real pork overload, order the Oink Omelet with pork three ways: bacon, ham, and sausage.

Reno - Chicago

This Logan Square brunch favorite perfectly mixes Gvori vodka, a housemade spice mix, and pickled veggies to create a classic Bloody Mary, or substitute tequila, gin, or dill aquavit. You can also order an optional beer back for that perfect accompaniment to your wood-fired bagel or Neopolitan-style breakfast pizza. The Bloody Mary toppings may start to remind you of Reno's pizza: cheddar cheese, pepperoni, and olive. But you'll also find pickled cauliflower, onion, and banana peppers.

One blogger likened Reno's Bloody Mary to a "boozy pasta sauce," made with freshly diced tomatoes and flavored with oregano and red pepper flakes. But he was sure to mention that the cocktail tastes light and refreshing.

Because the restaurant is such a hotspot right across from the Blue line, it doesn't take reservations. So get there early to dive into the local, seasonal, and organic ingredients, or take advantage of takeout. 

Bostonia Public House - Boston

When you order Bostonia's Ultimate Build Your Own Bloody Mary, servers bring over an ungarnished glass of Bloody Mary with your choice of vodka or tequila. Then, you get one golden ticket-inspired trip down the self-garnish bar.

"We have olives, hot peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, and a hot bar with ribs, bacon-wrapped scallops, shrimp cocktail," said manager Sean Fernandes. "We're constantly expanding on it — we might see some sliders soon. I've seen a guy go through and put 40 shrimp on one." A sampling of social media posts also documents an assortment of donuts, pepperoni sticks, chocolates, cheese, and hot sauces. 

You can expect a crowd at Bostonia's popular brunch, but because it's two floors, there's plenty of seating, perfect for large groups. Located in Boston's landmark Board of Trade building adjacent to Faneuil Hall, it's a vibrant atmosphere with excellent service. There might even be a pianist or band to add more ambiance.