A Bloody Mary has mysterious powers. Mixed right, it can redeem all Saturday night’s mistakes and act as a magical cure for your hangover. Legend has it, it was created out of curiosity in Paris in the 1920s, when the Prohibition-era delivered lots and lots of tinned tomato juice. Another theory — with a pleasurable gruesome streak — is that the Bloody Mary dates back to the rule of the ruthless Queen Mary I of England and that the tomato juice represents the blood spilled. Either way, this bitchin’ breakfast juice is one of the few cocktail recipes that allows the person mixing it to translate it into whatever the hell they want it to be.
So what exactly makes a good Bloody Mary? Some say it’s the amount of Worcestershire sauce. Some say it’s the extreme garnish that sits on top of the glass. We say it’s the harmonious balance of black-pepper-and-celery salt that somehow eliminates our need to wear huge dark sunglasses and whimper softly because we got so sh*tfaced our face hurts.
We’ve done the hard yards to bring you the definitive list of places to go for a Bloody Mary that’ll cure your hangover, increase your veggie intake and do your taxes (not really — sorry).
The Sweetwater Inn
The Sweetwater Inn is killing it with an ingenious riff on the Bloody Mary known as the Kevin Bloody Bacon — think bacon, beetroot and chilli-infused vodka served in a tall glass with a chilli and sea-salted rim. It’s thick, spicy and contains just the right amount of oomph. A long stalk of celery stands to attention while a skewer impales a fried strip of bacon, a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese, a couple of stuffed olives, half a pickle and a cocktail onion. If this doesn’t cure what ails you, nothing will.
Abbotsford's coolest day-to-night spot, Dr Morse, serves up one of the freshest Bloody Marys in Melbourne. With a focus on tomato juice that's pressed before your very eyes, a solid hit of spice, all topped off with a skewar of cocktail onions, cherry tomatoes and a deep fried pickle, it's the perfect drink to get you through those tougher mornings (or afternoons, depending on when you dragged yourself out of bed). On a Sunday afternoon, you'll also find some epic spit-roast action in Dr Morse's back garden area. Pork + vodka + tomato = winning.
Borsch, Vodka and Tears
The team at Borsch, Vodka and Tears know their cocktails and serve up five different variations on the Bloody Mary. The Bloody Gringo combines coriander vodka with a floating corn chip while the Zorba Mary features oregano, feta and a Kalamata olive. To really kick that hangover to the kerb though, we recommend either the Bloody Mary with rosemary, horseradish and caperberries or the Chiang Mai(ry), which contains so much chilli it may kill you (in a good way—promise). The garnishes have enough veggies to make you feel virtuous, and you can upgrade your Bloody Mary with sides like natural oysters, truffled mushrooms or fried whitebait.
Kodiak Club favours the ‘Canadian’ version of the Bloody Mary, which involves throwing in a dash of Clamato juice to add another layer of savouriness to the original concoction. Clam juice, like anchovies, is one of those things that divides people, but the Kodiak Caesar doesn’t taste fishy at all. It’s a thinner blend, which means it goes down more smoothly on a weak stomach, and the substitution of American hot sauce for Tabasco means that it pairs perfectly with a warm plate of buffalo wings.
Barry’s Bloody Mary comes with a side of jerky, meaning it has earned a special place in our hearts simply by existing. This drink is a back-to-basics blitz of vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lemon, salt and ice. The difference is that all the ingredients are super fresh— – if you close your eyes, it’s easy to pretend you’re drinking a ridiculously good-for-you detox juice. The spice level is high so keep tabs on the slice of cucumber nestled beside the strip of jerky—you’ll be needing it to cool your mouth down.
The team at Joe Taylor offer ten different renditions of the classic Bloody Mary— that’s right, ten— – and they’re all $12 on Sundays. The standout is the Bloody Caesar, which once again introduces clam juice to its pickle-spiced base, then torpedos the lot with red wine, dry herbs, sugar and salt. It’s a gutsy liquid breakfast that’ll put hairs back on your chest, and trust us, it tastes more salty than fishy. All ten Bloody Marys come with a veritable salad on top of the glass and somehow strike the perfect balance between sharpness and sourness.
Pope Joan has four contrary Marys to choose from, all primed to help you shake off that hangover. There’s the classic Bloody Mary with herb salt, the Bloody Mary-Lou with pickle juice, and the Bear Kraut Mary with kraut juice. But the pick of the lot is the Kimchi Mary with its memorable combo of gin, kimchi juice, shichimi tagarashi and fresh lime. The glasses are small and squat, so you might want to get all three and start your next bender right here.
Yellow Bird has dished up Tex-Mex slanted brekkies since 2007, and the four Bloody Marys on offer pack a serious punch. The ‘Bloody Hot’ incarnation is a dirty, fiery beast that tastes like a glass of spiked salsa, and should shock even the most sloshed mind back into its senses. The Bloody Maria takes everyone’s favourite tipple— – tequila— – and tricks it out with celery, olive and lemon, while the Virgin Mary offers a booze-free mocktail if you really can’t handle another drink.
Birdman Eating’s Bloody Mary isn’t fancy or twisted, but it’s earned a place on this list because it’s consistently good and can be teamed with a dish of baked eggs for only $20. It contains a good dose of horseradish to clear your sinuses as well as a healthy kick of Tabasco, making it the ultimate drink to get your frontal lobe moving again.
Le Bon Ton
The Bloody Mary at Le Bon Ton is dolled up with Ketel One vodka, house-smoked tomatoes, char-grilled capsicum, fresh lemon and Old Bay seasoning. What else goes in there? Well, a decent splash of house-made pickle juice, for a start, as well as jalapeño hot sauce and a good glug of red wine. The smoky intensity of all the flavours are balanced out with a palate-cleansing skewer of house-pickled vegetables.
Eau-de-Vie’s concoction gives the Bloody Mary a fancypants makeover with fino sherry, salt-cured tomato juice, pickled onion puree and a secret spice blend. It was voted Melbourne’s best Bloody Mary in 2014, but you’ll have to look under ‘Ernest’s New and Improved Tomato Cocktail’ to find it on the menu. A whole bottle of Tabasco is served on the side, so you can go as crazy as you like with the heat levels.
The Muddy Mary at The Catfish lives up to its name— – it’s so thick that it’s verging on soup, and just as warming and revitalising. The Catfish team make their own Bloody Mary spice mix and it delivers a hello-world combination of spice, citrus and sweetness. Between 12pm and 5pm on Sundays, a Muddy Mary will only cost you a tenner and comes with a thick rib of celery for stirring pleasure.
Teriyaki Anarchy Sake
Teriyaki Anarchy Sake have coined a why-didn’t-I-think-of-that creation called the Bloody Hugo which introduces wasabi sauce to a basic mix of vodka, shiraz and tomato juice. It’s a real game-changer, and while the garnish is simple, the drink has enough cut and thrust to stand on its own merits. This baby is heavily packing in spice and will work a treat to get you back on the train.
Image credit: Pura Vida