That first sip of a Bloody Mary is the best, amirite?

Savory with a side punch of spice and deep mouthfeel followed by a sudden awareness of the vodka, oozing all…the way…down.

Here’s the thing about Bloody Marys though: they often disappoint. Oddly enough, in restaurants especially.

You totally know the restaurant brunch scenario—reservations and everyone is feeling famished and festive. You ponder what to order to kick off the whole experience, and that cocktail needs to count!

Hmmm…never had their bloody…I wonder if it’s good… 

Alas, you pass on the pretty, fresh-squeezed OJ mimosas, opt out on boozier eye-openers, and eh, not feeling it today on a stomach-coating milk punch.

Going Bloody, you declare!

With stomachs rumbling and anticipation building, the tall crimson beauty arrives, brimming with so-gonna-eat garnishes. When everyone has been served, you go in for that first sip.

Dammit!

Made a mistake. Politely, you keep up with the conversation while secretly pondering your next drink move. Can’t even finish it.

The bloody truth
Ordering an unknown bloody—even in a Beard award-bestowed, buzzed-about blah blah blah truly amazing restaurant—is almost as risky as ordering the gumbo. Surprisingly and all too often, a restaurant Bloody Mary is either overpowered or watered down with some mysterious ocean-sourced ingredient (Is this clam juice or did they they unload the leftover shrimp stock in my Bloody?!), too spicy on some deep, swampy Cajun level or, worst-case scenario, it lacks any flavor at all.

Were they so focused on building a skyscraper of chicken shacks and deconstructed charcuterie platter garnishes that they forgot to make the Bloody Mary itself taste worth a damn? A bland Bloody is just sad and ain’t nobody got time for that. 

“People love to screw up a Bloody Mary!” my father loves to exclaim, when he thinks of anyone shaking anything other than a little Tabasco, a squeeze of lime and maybe a crack of black pepper into plain ole tomato juice.

Daddy has a point, although I’m not that old school. It’s hard to beat Zing Zang mix as the starter and there’s always room for creativity and experimentation.

When you need a solid, go-to Bloody Mary recipe that will not disappoint, however, we’ve got you covered. When party hosting, there’s much more to consider than the recipe, so take these bloody-good pro tips for serving success!

College bars make the best Bloodys!

Bloody garnish inpso from some of our favorite restaurant bars