What’s the most important element of a great weekend brunch? For many, the answer is a resounding “a great Bloody Mary!” From its humble beginnings as a simple “hair of the dog” remedy for hangovers, the savory drink has reached new gastronomic heights in San Diego cocktail culture. Whether you take it straight red, or feel adventurous with yellow or green, here are our top-ranked Bloody Marys in town.
For a sophisticated version of the cocktail, head downtown for this unique twist of BiCE’s Truffle Bloody Mary, featuring culinary touches of homemade tomato jam, Tabasco, black truffle essence, and truffle cheese-stuffed olives.
BiCE: 425 Island Ave., downtown. bicesandiego.com
You won’t suffer from lack of Bloody choices at Snooze an A.M. Eatery, the popular Denver-based breakfast spot. Champions of the infusion process, the choices range from a cucumber, pepper, and garlic-infused version in their Gazpacho; a bacon-infused Elijah Craig Bourbon in the aptly named Boss Hog; or habanero and jalapeño Infused in their Spicy. Get a little adventurous with the Bangkok, combining Sriracha, lime, cilantro, basil and fish sauce.
Snooze Eatery: 3940 Fifth Ave., Hillcrest; and 3435 Del Mar Heights Road, Suite D3, Carmel Valley. snoozeeatery.com
Bartender Rob McShea at Duck Dive is something of a local celebrity, winning second in the country in the Food Network’s “Chopped” Bloody Mary Contest. His Jamaican Me Crazy, made with housemade yellow tomato mix and topped with grilled shrimp, is refreshing, lip-smacking and a must addition to your cocktail list.
Duck Dive: 4650 Mission Blvd., Pacific Beach. theduckdive.com
With a whopping eight Bloody Mary choices, it’s impossible to not find a favorite (hint: go with friends) at Great Maple. The Pickle Mary comes with the biggest gherkin you’ve ever laid eyes on, while the Upper Eastside Mary transforms the traditional Mary into a martini. Brave and hangover-free patrons can enjoy the One Armed Mary, complete with an overhanging octopus tentacle. Those not so lucky have a ready-made antidote in Johnny’s Hangover Mary, a 20 oz “super Mary” topped with an alcohol soaker of bread, melted cheese, and chorizo. Nap, please.
Great Maple: 1451 Washington St., University Heights. thegreatmaple.com
Always a local favorite, the Bloody Mary at Small Bar has developed into the stuff of legends. Featuring shrimp, bacon, mushroom, stuffed olive, green bean, celery, carrot, and pickles piled onto a house recipe, its fans are legion and crowd in every weekend for another taste.
Small Bar: 4628 Park Blvd., University Heights. smallbarsd.com
Get adventurous in your Bloody colors with the inventive California Greenin at Cafe 21, with tomatillo and a grilled cheese skewer, the Ol’ Yellow Mary with yellow heirloom tomatoes, or go “traditional” with the red Prawn Star, with a jumbo prawn and veggies, dubbed a “Bloody meal.”
Cafe 21: 2736 Adams Ave., North Park; and 802 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. cafe-21.com
Two Bloody Mary Bars to try:
With 20-plus hot sauces, blue cheese-stuffed olives, onions, capers, beans, mortadella, mini bell peppers, a variety of salts, and more, it’s a veritable smorgasbord of Bloody Mary goodness.
Davanti Enoteca: 1655 India St., Little Italy; and 12955 El Camino Real, Del Mar. davantienoteca.com
Tavern at the Beach
For beach residents, the $8 Hail Mary BYOB (Build Your Own Bloody Mary) bar is a deliciously affordable way to enjoy multiple Marys. The bar comes complete with pickles, bacon, a variety of plain and stuffed olives, cheeses, sauces, banana peppers, and even Mary candles to pray away your sins from the night before.
Tavern at the Beach: 1200 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach, tavernatthebeach.com
With 18 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 850 reviews under her belt, Laurie Delk is a one-stop guide to all things craft beer, wine and spirits. You can follow Delk on Twitter @100beers30days or Instagram @sandiegobeer. Send ideas for featured drinks to email@example.com.
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