Bloody good: The top 10 bloody marys in Brooklyn

DuMont comes in at number ten. But who else is on our list? Photo via Danny Gotleib

DuMont comes in at number ten. But who else is on our list? Photo by Danny Gotleib

Any brunch-goer worth his weight in french toast knows the true hero of the weekend is the bloody mary. More than just a cure for your hangover (although its benefits in that arena are not to be overlooked), a good bloody mary can be a delicious meal in itself. But you don’t want to waste your money on just an average bloody mary, do you? To save you from such a fate, I sampled nearly 30 of Brooklyn’s most-talked-about bloody marys in a mere week and a half — heartburn and day-drunkenness be damned! — in search of the ten best the borough has to offer.

To lend some objectivity to this entirely subjective endeavor, I created the B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y. (Brokelyn’s Legitimate Opinion On Drinking Yummy Morning Alcohol Regularly, YES!) metric (I didn’t say I was good at acronyms). The four categories in the B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y. metric, each with a highest possible score of 10, are:

Presentation: Points earned for characteristics such as beverage size, general appearance, and the all-important garnishes.

Flavor: How well does the drink blend as a whole? No one wants a glass of tomato juice and Tabasco.

Spice: A bloody mary needs a hefty kick if it is to properly get the job done. Too much kick, however, and you’ll spend your Sunday afternoon chugging Pepto Bismol.

Finish: A good bloody mary deepens in flavor as you work your way through the drink. A bad bloody mary just leaves your tongue numb or, even worse, melts into tomato-flavored water.

Everyone on board? Let’s get to the rankings! My only remaining question is: what do you drink to cure a hangover caused by too many bloody marys?

10. DuMont
432 Union Ave
Williamsburg
(718) 486-7717

Price: $9

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y scores:

Presentation: 8
Flavor: 7
Spice: 6
Finish: 6

This was the first bloody mary I tasted on this endeavor, set a standard I knew would be hard to beat, and only a few managed it. It was a little mild for my taste, but the flavors were nicely balanced. As long as you’re not looking to get your taste buds singed by your breakfast beverage (which, full disclosure, I usually am), DuMont’s bloody mary is a solid take on the classic drink.

9. 606 R&D
606 Vanderbilt Ave
Prospect Heights
(718) 230-0125

Price: $10 (classic), $12 (Texan)

Photo via 606

Photo via 606

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y scores:

Presentation: 8
Flavor: 8
Spice: 7
Finish: 7

606 R&D offers a classic bloody mary as well as a Texas version made with tequila and sporting a stick of jerky as a garnish. While both are slightly more expensive than I would prefer to pay for a bloody, the classic is a sterling example of what a simple bloody mary should taste like. The Texas bloody mary, on the other hand, tastes a bit too much like cilantro and lime, giving you the impression you’re just drinking salsa. I wish the classic had been a little spicier, but, as you’ll see, that’s how I feel about most bloody marys.

8. Catfish
1433 Bedford Ave
Crown Heights
(347) 305-3233

Price: $8 (Creole), $12 (Voodoo)

via Catfish

Photo via Catfish

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y scores:
Presentation: 9
Flavor: 8
Spice: 6
Finish: 8

A hidden New Orleans-style gem in Crown Heights, Catfish isn’t nearly as busy for brunch as most other heavily-trafficked restaurants. That means you won’t have to wait too long before you get your hands on one of their two bloody marys, both of which are excellent. The Creole bloody mary and the Voodoo bloody mary are essentially the same, except the Voodoo comes filled with crab meat and is topped with shrimp. It’s definitely worth the extra $4, as the crab gives the bloody mary a meaty base that helps balance out the flavors. The Cajun spices in the mix pack a nice punch, but sadly overpower the rest of the drink so you begin to feel a bit like you’re pouring Cajun spices directly on your tongue. But: so much delicious crab!

7. Enid’s
560 Manhattan Ave
Greenpoint
(718) 349-3859

Price: $9

Photo by Danny Gottleib

Photo by Danny Gottleib

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y scores:
Presentation: 8
Flavor: 9
Spice: 6
Finish: 8

Enid’s offers a classic, unpretentious bloody mary that doesn’t hide behind any fancy gimmicks. The flavors blend perfectly, the horseradish gave me a nice simmering sensation in the back of my throat, and the drink didn’t last long enough for me to see how it would taste as the ice melted. Enid’s is confident in their bloody mary, and they should be.

6. Luckydog
303 Bedford Ave
Williamsburg

Price: $6

Photo via Lucky Dog

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y scores:
Presentation: 9
Flavor: 9
Spice: 8
Finish: 5

“Luckydog is the shit!” my roommate said when I mentioned where I was going. And he’s right: Luckydog is the shit. The bloody mary is meaty, the kind you feel you have to chew, and it was one of the spicier I tried. Sadly, it gets a little watered-down near the end, but it should be noted that the bartender gave me a very strong pour of vodka, which is always a welcome occurrence. And then, of course, Luckydog has one special highlight: DOGS! During pleasant weather the back patio is packed with neighborhood folk enjoying some brews, while their canine pals enjoy some butt-sniffing. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than drinking a well-made bloody mary as you pet a bunch of dogs. Thank you, Luckydog, for making that dream a reality.

5. Olea
171 Lafayette Ave
Fort Greene
(718) 643-7003

Price: $8

via Flickr user Kenn Wilson

via Flickr user Kenn Wilson

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y scores:
Presentation: 7
Flavor: 9
Spice: 8
Finish: 8

My main complaint about Olea’s bloody mary is that it’s much too small, which should tell you everything you need to know. These bloody marys are good, and they’ve won awards to prove it. The house blend is perfect, so thick with spices it clogs your straw. While the drink size is much too small for my liking, it’s not such a bad thing to be left wanting more, which is exactly how you’ll feel about Olea’s bloody mary.

4. Skylark/The Good Fork
577 5th Ave
South Slope
(347) 227-8196

Price: $7

photo

Photo via Skylark

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y scores:
Presentation: 9
Flavor: 9
Spice: 8
Finish: 7

Skylark took in Red Hook’s Good Fork after Sandy, which means you can feel good about helping restore a damaged business while enjoying a seriously delicious bloody mary. This bloody mary was by far the meatiest I tasted, a deep burgundy in a pint glass that should count as an entire meal. It packs all the spices I want from my bloody marys, the deep notes that burn in the back of your throat as well as the higher spices that open your sinuses. By the end of the drink it all gets to be a little bit much, but this is a bloody mary that clearly won’t hold back.

3. Supercore
305 Bedford Ave
Williamsburg
(718) 302-1629

Price: $5, $20 for a bottomless-drink brunch

via Facebook

via Facebook

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y. scores:
Presentation: 9
Flavor: 8
Spice: 9
Finish: 7

For a $5 mason jar of sake bloody mary (or unlimited sake bloody marys and brunch for only $20), Supercore is easily the best value on this list. Even better, the bloody mary is much more delicious than the price tag would suggest. At first taste it reminded me of cocktail sauce, but that was before the spices kicked in (don’t quote me, but I’m pretty sure they use wasabi instead of horseradish — granted, this was my fifth bloody mary of the day). Within seconds, my sinuses were clear and I found myself hungry for an obscene amount of sushi. These bloody marys are in no way traditional, but they’re an extremely successful twist on the old standard. Supercore has the added benefit of being next to Luckydog, so once you’ve finished your bottomless bloody mary brunch you can cool your taste buds with some cold beer and dog-petting in the back patio just next door.

2. Char No. 4
196 Smith St.
Cobble Hill
(718) 643-2106

Price: $8

Photo via Char No. 4, by Dave Escovitz

Photo via Char No. 4, by Dave Escovitz

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y. scores:
Presentation: 8
Flavor: 10
Spice: 8
Finish: 8

Bloody mary purists are surely aghast at the idea of a chipotle bourbon bloody mary nearly topping the list (immediately above a sake bloody mary, no less), but any naysayers obviously haven’t been to Char No. 4. After the first sip, I actually felt myself salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs, which is a sure sign of success. The chipotle bourbon blends spectacularly with the rest of the mix, striking all my drinking companions into a stunned silence. My only issues come from a slight over-reliance on horseradish, as well as the size of the glass. Give me a full pint glass and nothing less! The solitary garnish is a house-made pickle, crunchy and perfect, so good we asked the waiter for a plate of extra pickles on the side. Maybe it’s unfair to compare a bourbon bloody mary with its vodka brethren, but Char No. 4’s near-perfect bloody mary raises the standard.

1. James
605 Carlton Ave
Prospect Heights
(718) 942-4255

Price: $9

via James

Photo via James

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y. scores:
Presentation: 8
Flavor: 10
Spice: 9
Finish: 9

My pick for the best bloody mary in Brooklyn goes to James, an unassuming little restaurant tucked away just off the relative bustle of Vanderbilt Ave. Offering both a classic bloody mary and a bloody maria made with house-infused jalapeño tequila, James has perfected its recipe. The secret ingredient appears to be basil, which is also used as a garnish along with a delicious pickled asparagus spear, an oft-overlooked bloody mary garnish I was very glad to see utilized here. James managed to show me that bloody marias can be delicious, which is a feat in itself, as I always considered tequila the devil’s liquid and thought it should be nowhere near breakfast; somehow, those mad scientists at James convinced me otherwise. For changing my mind about bloody marias, as well as for delivering a spectacular classic bloody mary, James deserves the title of “Best Bloody Mary in Brooklyn.” Now, please pass the Pepto.

Follow Danny for tweets about heartburn at @dgottleib 

There are many bloody marys in Brooklyn and many opinions about them. So if you’ve got a disagreement, share it in the comments!

20 Comment

  • Kind of annoyed my bloody mary didn’t make this list.

  • What the?!?!? No Pine Box bloody mary on this list? You’re either a) clueless about bloody mary’s and shouldn’t be writing this article (no offense) or b) you’re really just don’t know what you’re missing out on!

  • The bloody swan at Black Swan is absolutely my #1, with pepper jack cheese, shrimp, a tiny onion, olive, and a gherkin as garnishes, an old bay rim, a whole piece of bacon IN the drink, it’s thick and perfectly spicy, 10’s all around. You clearly missed out.
    The James and Enid’s drinks look way too watered down.

  • what about Pinebox? They have a whole menu dedicated to Bloodymary’s!

  • Lack of Pine Box Rock Shop’s tremendous bloody menu on this this list is a serious omission.

    • At risk of further inflaming the Pine Box Legion, I usually prefer places that focus their efforts on making one relatively simple bloody mary as perfectly as possible. Pine Box’s menu was impressive, but I set out to find the best bloody marys, not the most.

      (On a semi-related note, is there anything worse than a build-your-own-bloody-mary bar? I CAN’T. That’s why I’m paying YOU.)

  • The garnish on that James drink looks like dill, not basil. My favorite is Fort Defiance’s in Red Hook. It’s sooo spicy, and comes in a prix fixe brunch too.

  • What about the Smoke Joint?! That’s a great bloody mary!

  • I won’t go into a rant. There has obviously been plenty of that. I will say that I must question the legitimacy of this list with the omission of sidecar somewhere in the top 10.
    Also, as mentioned in the article, if you are putting down 4 or 5 Bloody’s in an outing it’s hard to believe your judgment is up to snuff on the back end of that days field work. Just sayen…

  • Everyone, stop being hysterical and just go to the Midwest: http://consumerist.com/2013/05/01/we-live-in-a-world-where-this-towering-feat-of-meat-cheese-bloody-mary-only-costs-5/.

    These comments are hilariously pretentious. Oy vey, guys.

  • I second the Black Swan. Bacon. In a Bloody Mary. Enough said!
    It seriously is the best bloody Mary I’ve ever had.

  • Not including Passenger Bar in Williamsburg is a huge oversight!

  • Have you seriously not tried the Bloody Mary at Bar 706 on washington. Jalapeno, Jamaican Hot Pepper Garlic and Basil infused Russian Standard Vodka!! It can easily take down any drink on this list!

  • I’m also shocked that Black Swan did not make the list – clearly the work of an amateur..

  • Wow- You have really done your homework! Love this. (I can think of harder homework) Wish you could try one of my recipes. http://bestbloodymaryrecipe.com Keep up the good work!

  • Roberta’s. That is all.