Any bar in Melbourne worth its celery salt can whip up a Bloody Mary, which makes researching the best in town a particularly arduous task. Don't worry – we've done the hard yards for you, from sipping the vodka-and-tomato-juice-based beverage at a civilised brunch, to getting completely sh*tfaced one night (OK, several nights) so we could work out which Bloody Marys are best for a hangover. Yeah, you're welcome. And so....drumroll please...here are Melbourne's best Bloody Marys.
The Galleon | St Kilda
If aliens landed outside The Galleon, they'd deduce that humans can queue patiently for up to 30 minutes before being rewarded with food and drink. If aliens with hangovers landed outside The Galleon, they'd understand why there's always a queue. This legendary cafe makes some of the best cure-all breakfasts and lunches in town and its Bloody Marys are worth the wait. There are several variations available, including the Bloody Caesar (that's a Bloody Mary made with clamato – a mix of clam juice and tomato juice – instead of tomato juice) and the tear-inducing Bloody Evil (a Bloody Caesar with super hot chilli). They'll have you feeling shipshape in no time.
Good for: fixing a hangover, or a very long Sunday session in which you try all the Bloody Marys and later return for a hair of the dog. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Oscar Cooper | Prahran
Fruit and vegies are good for you, right? Therefore fruit and vegie juices are also good for you, which in turn means Bloody Marys are good for you, too. At least they are when they're garnished with fresh cherry tomatoes and cucumber, the way they are at this welcoming Prahran cafe. It's practically a salad. If you're feeling particularly seedy, have a jaffle with your Bloody Mary, which will be made exactly as spicy as you like it. If you're on a health kick, try the breakfast greens – poached eggs and enough kale and spinach to keep Popeye happy. If that's not healthy enough for you, Oscar Cooper also offers freshly squeezed juices – with gin or vodka shots instead of the usual wheatgrass shot. Genius.
Good for: a boozy breakfast or brunch that you can at least pretend is healthy.
Pope Joan | Brunswick East
Pope Joan's bright and breezy courtyard gets as packed as a papal mass on weekends, and with some of Melbourne's best breakfasts including doughnuts with cream and espresso martinis, it's no wonder so many locals come to worship here. The standard Bloody Marys are also a drawcard, but for something a little different, try the Pope's Bloody Mary-Lou, with chipotle-infused vodka, pickle juice and smoked salt. This full-on flavour hit is a real heart-starter that'll have you praying for more.
Good for: Kicking off the weekend by doing breakfast or brunch on Saturday, then hanging out with the masses while nursing your poor, sore head on Sunday.
Borsch Vodka and Tears | Windsor
The clue is in the title at this long-standing Chapel Street bar/restaurant; come for the homely Polish food, stay for the ridiculous number of different vodkas (not to mention the lengthy cocktail list), and leave in tears cause you just couldn't manage to try everything on the drinks menu – though you gave it a damn good shot. Which is why you'll need to return to Borsch the next day, when you'll be feeling pretty sorry for yourself and will most definitely need the big breakfast (bacon and eggs with potato blintz and bratwurst for good measure) and hands down one of Melbourne's best Bloody Marys – made with garlic- and chilli- infused vodka for that extra kick and served with enough vegetable matter to make you feel virtuous.
Good for: Curing hangovers, or starting a serious one at brunchtime.
Plenty Food | Windsor
Oh God, it's a bit bright in here, isn't it? The semi-industrial fitout and blindingly white walls look great, but they're not kind on these hungover eyes. Gah. Can I get a Bloody Mary please? One with West Winds gin instead of vodka sounds interesting. Hmm, that technically makes it a Red Snapper but right now I just don't care...oh, that first sip is so good. Spicy in all the right places, with thick tomato juice and a more complex flavour than normal thanks to the gin. Ah, that's better. Now I can face food – good thing there's Plenty of brekkie options to choose from.
Good for: Plenty opens at 7am, so it's ideal for breakfast with friends. It's also great for the morning after the night before – with sunglasses on.
Le Bon Ton | Collingwood
Smoke em if you got em is the attitude at this sultry Southern-style barbecue joint, and that attitude extends to its drinks list. The Le Bon Ton Mary features hickory-smoked tomato for an extra layer of smoky depth, while the requisite heat comes from jalapenos and Old Bay seasoning. Take yourself and your hangover here around lunchtime for this flavoursome pick-me-up – best accompanied by a brioche sandwich stuffed with mesquite-smoked brisket and house-made pickles, and followed by another Le Bon Ton Mary.
Good for: reviving yourself after a really big night, as Le Bon Ton doesn't open until midday on weekends – and only opens in the evening on weekdays.
If you like our list of Melbourne's best Bloody Marys, check out our pick of espresso martinis!
Image Credit: Hello Society