You did it again: you made brunch plans after midnight on a Saturday. Now it’s Sunday at 10:00am and you’re squinting at your phone hoping, praying that your friend texts you to cancel. But no dice. You’re dehydrated, you’re disheveled and there’s only one thing that’s going to save you: a Bloody Mary.
A curious and restorative blend of vodka, tomato, spices, and magic, the Bloody Mary is as delicious as it is deceptive. Ask five people how it’s made and you’ll hear (at least) five different answers. Opinions run hot on this spicy sipper. Some folks stay true to a simple, immutable list of core ingredients, others prefer experimental takes like infused spirits and exotic spices, and quite a few curmudgeons just dismiss the whole drink as a waste of a perfectly good salad.
Wherever you stand, here are five expert opinions from professional drinkers (and drink-makers) from around the city to help complicate things further on this National Bloody Mary Day. See what the pros have to say about what makes a great Bloody Mary, and where they go to drink theirs. Listen up: that hangover isn’t going to cure itself.
Casey Riddles: Bartender at Lucca North End
My favorite bloody in town is at Trina’s Starlite Lounge (Monday Industry Brunch for the win!). They have a secret special “mud” that’s absolutely delicious. They also throw a dill pickle in it which adds to the effect. My personal recipe involves A1 Steak Sauce and Spike seasoning with a little pickle juice.
Frankie Byrd: Bartender at Porto
The thing about Bloody Marys is they don’t need all the hoopla. We don’t need a bloody bar to add oysters, shrimp, burgers, chicken and waffles, or any other nonsense. A good Bloody stands on its own, and it only needs a few ingredients. In my opinion, Coleman’s Gold Mustard is the secret to a great Bloody. My must-have Boston Bloody is from Tavern at the End of the World in Charlestown.
Diego Pena-Herrera: Bar Manager at Eastern Standard
A “perfect” Bloody requires the right balance of salt, acid and spice. The acid is super important: tomato juice already contains a good amount of citric and malic acid, so just a bit of lemon helps liven it up. We use Tabasco, which brings both heat and acetic acid into the equation. Cracked pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and horseradish are the spice. While a base is the most crucial part, execution matters. The perfect ratio of vodka to mix and the ice/dilution are key, and garnishes should be an accent, not be the star of the show. For my favorite Bloody Mary in the city, I have to go with Deep Ellum. It’s classic, not pretentious, and comes with a pickled green bean. So good!
Jamie Richard: Server at The Fat Hen
I want a Bloody Mary to hit me all over. I’m looking for salt, brine, different kinds of spice — that horseradish bite and something peppery, too. It’s such a complex range of flavors to balance and I think that makes it a hard drink to put on a bartender. Barcelona’s Bloody bar has a wealth of options: their mix is great, plus they’ve got Aleppo pepper and Boquerones to make it memorable.
Felipe Munoz: Bartender at The Mad Minnow
It’s the only drink I’ll get angry if somebody orders after 8:00pm—Bloody Marys are for brunch, period. I like mine spicy, strong, and made with mezcal instead of vodka because vodka is boring. I always add a splash of Guinness to give it depth and a little sweetness (you’re welcome). My favorite in town is the super-spicy one at The Gallows. Three of them.