Spring is slowly coming to most of America at its seemingly glacial pace. Soon the world will start to become green again and people will be able to venture outside without bracing themselves for a constant discomfort. But most important, there will soon there will be a return to brunching outdoors. Drinking the perfect Bloody Mary — or Jane, Maria, or Lawrence —while feeling the warm rays of sun on your exposed body after a long and, at times, bitterly cold winter is one of the great annual joys of life. Here are the best places to across the nation to have that moment.
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If you're going to be in the Mile High city, you're going to want to go as big as possible. At Kachina in Denver, Colorado, you can build your own Bloody Mary and you're encouraged to build it big. It's only available on Sundays, but it has a spicy base to start with additions like your traditional celery and other leafy garnishes, but there are also skewers of prosciutto and Manchego along with bacon and even a jalapeño blue corn waffle. There's no need to be shy about piling on the toppings in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.
Credit: Courtesy of Kachina
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Charleston's Husk serves a Bloody Mary that, like the cuisine in general at the restaurant, is classic southern with twist. Chef Sean Brock presides over the restaurant with a unifying culinary aesthetic and daily menu changes in his restaurant that has built his reputation as one of the most innovative chefs in the south. The Bloody Mary at Husk has a base made up of complex, undisclosed ingredients and a rotating cast of garnishes. Sometimes it's topped with prosciutto, sometimes it's country ham, but it's always good.
Credit: Courtesy of Yelp
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Lobster Joint, Brooklyn and Rockaway Beach
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the Lobster Joint is, of course, their lobster. It's difficult to think of any location better to grab a satisfying lobster roll on a Summer day. As far as cocktails go, Lobster Joint prepares a singular Dark and Stormy. But why must a restaurant be limited to having one excellent cocktail? Their Bloody Mary comes accompanied by a meaty lobster crawl along with all of the traditional fixings that make for a cocktail that doesn't sacrifice novelty for flavor.
Credit: Courtesy of Lobster Joint
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Maison Premiere, Brooklyn
It's difficult to talk about summer in Brooklyn and not take a deep dive into seafood. While Lobster Joint tops off its Bloody Mary's with lobster, Maison Premier, the Williamsburg restaurant primarily known for its near perfection in all things oyster and absinthe, crowns theirs with a oyster on the half-shell among other garnish. The base of the Maison Bloody Mary is made up of a blend of tomato juice with mirepoix — chopped celery, carrot and onion that makes for a flavorful base.
Credit: Courtesy of Maison Premiere
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When looking for a sunny brunch spot, you're more likely to find it in Austin than Brooklyn most of the year. On the Freedmen's menu, their Holy Mary shines like the lone star on the Texas state flag. A smoked cherry tomato juice allows the whiskey (yes, whiskey) flavor to work in a way you may not imagine it would. Freedman's takes the "everything's bigger" ideology literally by inserting three different kinds of meat on a skewer to top the whole cocktail off.
Credit: Courtesy of Freemen's Bar
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Saddle Peak Lodge, Calabasas
On the other end of the SoCal experience are the canyons of Calabasas and, within them, Saddle Peak Lodge. There you can get house-made bacon infused Vodka with a hardy strip of bacon for garnish. Saddle Peak Lodge represents a different kind of L.A., one with a penchant for exotic meats and as much bacon as you can pack into any one thing. It's not exactly lean eating, but it's the kind of culinary adventure you don't normally get around the city.
Credit: Courtesy of Saddle Peak Lodge
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Thieves Tavern, San Francisco
Without a doubt, Thieves Tavern is the San Francisco spot to hit up when you're in search of a one-of-a-kind Bloody Mary. Their BLT Bloody Mary is a beautiful iteration of the cocktail. With the requisite bacon, lettuce, and tomato, it also involves BBQ sauce along with whole trapping of garnishes. Perfect for the city's sunny days as well as its gloomier ones, the BLT Bloody Mary is built in such a way that it becomes the perfect companion in any weather.
Credit: Courtesy of Thieves Tavern
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Zeitgeist, San Francisco
Leave to this tech'd out city to have a landmark restaurant called Zeitgeist. However, their Bloody Mary should be considered a shining cultural beacon to which others should hold in high esteem. It's no bullshit blend that reflects the true San Francisco spirit; it's spicy but doesn't make you choke and a generous gathering of vegetables makes up its crown. The cocktail has one all sorts of local awards, but you'll have to see for yourself just what all the buzz is about.
Credit: Courtesy of Zeitgeist
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Cricket Café, Portland
Portland is a city that takes its brunch seriously — maybe a little too seriously at times. But you can't beat the Cricket Café's Bloody Bar. There are varying levels of spiciness to each Bloody Mary, but it culminates with the Bloody Hot Bonnet with its habanero infused vodka. On the other side of things, you have the Bloody Sunrise with its sweet grenadine inflected flavor and sugar rim. The brunch craze has a definite benefit and this is it.
Credit: Courtesy of Cricket Café
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Tanaka San, Seattle
It can be tough waking up to the mostly rainy days in Seattle. The perfect pick me up is a good strong brunch with a lively cocktail. Tanaka San at Assembly Hall serves the Bloody Kaiju. That's a blend of vodka and tomato with fish sauce, radish, and sweet soy. It's definitely a far cry from your usual Bloody and the perfect blend of flavor and spice to perk up your sense and prepare for the day, no matter the forecast.
Credit: Courtesy of Tanaka San
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Centro, Des Moines
The midwest can be a long, lonely drive. Next time you happen to find yourself in Des Moines, Iowa, do yourself a favor and skip the Marriott breakfast bar and get yourself over to Centro. They have a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar that allows you the freedom to build it high or keep it simple, make it spicy or keep it smooth. With an array of premium ingredients, they make it difficult to mess up.
Credit: Courtesy of Centro
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Schubas Tavern, Chicago
Schubas is a prime place in Chicago to catch some live music, but it's much more than that as well. Schubas serves up a classic, no frills Bloody Mary, perfect in its utter simplicity. There are plenty of places to go in Chicago if you want a fancy or exotic Bloody Mary. But in the true spirit of Midwestern Metropolis, you would be best served to grab a drink that's just plain good.
Credit: Courtesy of Schubas Tavern
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The Black Swan, Brooklyn
The Black Swan is a great place to brunch for many reasons, but their Bloody Swan is definitely up there on that list. It's one of those loaded up kind of Bloody Mary that hits the right spot as a little snack than its own meal, containing a strip of bacon and a plump shrimp along with a skewer of cheese, cocktail onion, white cheddar cheese, and gherkin pickle. All this with a beer chaser makes the Bloody Swan an experience of a cocktail.