Bloody good: The top 10 Bloody Marys in Brooklyn

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When does a drink just become food? Photo by Randy Liedtke

Drink trends come and go but there’s one delicious, savory, brunch-accompanying, hangover-curing, day-drinking-enabling cocktail that never goes out of style: The Bloody Mary. As much of a trope as it may be, Brooklyn loves its brunch and there’s no finer drink with which to cozy up on a Sunday afternoon than the mysteriously perfect combination of vodka, tomato juice and whatever else your bartender throws in there.

The Bloody Mary is a special drink (the most old-timey feeling drink still in circulation, one of the only savory — or even spicy — cocktails and possibly the sole thing keeping the V8 corporation in business) so it requires an especially critical eye. To determine the borough’s top ten, we revisited our 2013 list, surveyed another dozen or so of the most popular Marys around, and subjected each drink to our time-tested B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y. (Brokelyn’s Legitimate Opinion On Drinking Yummy Morning Alcohol Regularly, YES!) metric. 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: We’re talking beverage size, aesthetics and garnishes (the Mary pictured above, for example, would score an 11).
  • Flavor: How does this thing actually taste? Form is all well and good, Tarantino, but what about the substance?
  • Spice: This is just about the only drink where spiciness is a good thing, so we want to make it count, but you should also be able to drink a whole one without fear of death.
  • Finish: How does this thing taste a few minutes in? Is the bottom of the glass just some spicy tomato water or is it as delicious as that first sip?

And so, in the name of sparing you a sub-standard Bloody Mary experience, we present our highly scientific (well maybe not highly) list of the 10 best Bloodys our fine borough has to offer:

Additional reporting and Bloody Mary consumption by Sam Weiss

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Photo by A C. on Yelp.
Photo via Yelp user A C

10. Washington Commons
748 Washington Ave., Prospect Heights
Price: $9

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y scores:
Presentation: 6
Flavor: 7
Spice: 6
Finish: 7

Ostensibly a beer bar, Washington Commons makes this list with a definite bump due to an incredible happy hour deal on its Bloody Mary. Every weekend from 1 to 4pm the price of this Bloody drops to $4 a glass, making it the cheapest (sometimes, at least) entry on this list by far. That said, it’s not only here for that reason: it’s also a delicious, albeit a little small, take on the classic cocktail. Washington Commons puts Old Bay seasoning on the rim of its Marys to give it a little Eastern Seaboard twist and make it like eating a bag of those weird crab-flavored Utz chips.

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Photo by Danny Gotleib

9. DuMont
314 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
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, setting 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.

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Photo by Danny Gottleib
Photo by Danny Gottleib

8. Enid’s
560 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint
Price: $9

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.

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Photo via Lucky Dog

7. Lucky Dog
303 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
Price: $6

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

“Lucky Dog is the shit!” my roommate said when I mentioned where I was going. And he’s right: Lucky Dog 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, Lucky Dog 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, Lucky Dog, for making that dream a reality. (Lucky Dog is also a Beer Book bar.)

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Photo via Yelp user Yen H
Photo via Yelp user Yen H

6. The Lobster Joint
1073 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint
Price $12

B.L.O.O.D.Y.M.A.R.Y scores:
Presentation: 10
Flavor: 8
Spice: 6
Finish: 6

The Lobster Joint makes this list less because of the drink part of the Bloody Mary (though it’s still a delicious, pickle-heavy take on the classic) and more because of its garnish. Yes, it’s the “Lobster Claw Bloody Mary” with a goddamn lobster claw inside the drink. In what has become Bloody Mary tradition, the actual vodka-tomato portion of the drink serves mostly as a landing strip for a ridiculous, oversized accoutrement, in this case a perfectly salty, flavorful lobster claw. The claw gives the rest of the drink a nice seafood twist and, alongside the pickle and olives, make it one of the saltier entries on this list.

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Photo via Yelp user Kenneth K
Photo via Yelp user Kenneth K.

5. The Brooklyn Star
593 Lorimer St., Williamsburg
Price: $11

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

This brunch spot makes their Bloodies nice and spicy for the hungover crowd. The Bloody Bull is heavy on the spices, plus it comes with a bit of beef broth to really lean into the drink’s “meal in a cup” reputation. The real stars here, though, are the pickled green beans atop each pint glass-sized Bloody Mary, giving the drink an extra oomph and something to snack on while you wait for your brunch (if you still have room).

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via Flickr user Kenn Wilson
Photo via Flickr user Kenn Wilson

4. Olea
171 Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene
Price: $8

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 quite 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.

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via Catfish
Photo via Catfish

3. Catfish
1433 Bedford Ave., Crown Heights
Price: $8 (Creole), $12 (Voodoo)

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

A 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!

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Photo via C
Photo via Colonia Verde

2. Colonia Verde 
219 DeKalb Ave., Fort Greene
Price: $11

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

This Latin American eatery took home Grub Street‘s best NYC Bloody Mary title last year so I knew I had to see what all the hubbub was about. And, indeed, Colonia Verde did not disappoint. One of the cheapest and most straight forward cocktails on the menu, the unassuming Bloody Mary sneaks up on you. This Bloody uses homemade horseradish and Maggi seasoning (essentially just straight MSG), but the real difference here is the tomato juice, obviously higher quality than many of these other spots, and it creates a fantastic base for the whole drink.

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via James
Photo via James

1. James
605 Carlton Ave., Prospect Heights
Price: $12

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

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.

There are many Bloody Marys in Brooklyn and many opinions about them. If you’ve got a disagreement, share it in the comments!

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21 COMMENTS

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

    • 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.)

  3. 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.

  4. 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…

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

  6. 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!

  7. Assuming the writer must live in Willyburg, as that’s all the list consists of. You must think Starbucks has the best coffee too, huh? Cause Lauren, Asha, & Tim are right, PINE BOX ROCK SHOP has the best!!! How could you possibly have overlooked a place that has a Menu of Bloodies, 5 total?? As a Bloody connoisseur, former bartender & NoLa girl (where REAL spice exists), this was the most Basic AF list I’ve ever read. Actually LEAVE Wburg(Mini Manhattan) & see the REST of BK before trying this again.

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