There’s just something about a Bloody Mary. A classic British pick-me-up, done well this fiery tonic is the perfect remedy for a rejuvenating Saturday brunch, lazy Sunday luncheon or just whenever you feel like something with a bit of a kick. But striking that fine balance of flavour is a tricky business – there’s a reason why it’s been branded the ‘world’s most complex cocktail’ – and London’s pubs and bars are a minefield of Bloody Mary brilliance and blunders. To save you from the latter, we’ve picked the finest London establishments serving the best Bloody Marys across town.
The ingredients to the special homemade spice mix used at this Chelsea stalwart are a closely guarded secret, and for good reason since their signature marries just the right amount of spice in a straight up, traditional take on the cocktail. This Bank Holiday weekend they’re also offering complimentary Bloody Mary tasters to all diners - ideal if you’re looking for a stylish lunch or a break from the museums or boutiques over the long weekend.
Fancy a more stately affair? Marcus Wareing’s British brasserie in the stunning St Pancras Renaissance Hotel makes a superb setting for your Bloody Mary tasting and their distinguished cocktail menu offers a well-balanced selection of four ruby concoctions to pair with your weekend brunch. Choose between the vodka based ‘Classic’ with dehydrated celery, the zesty gin based ‘Snapper’ with lemon or, for a true punch, the bracing ‘Tequila Maria’. If you’re feeling virtuous then their ‘Sunshine Mary’ with yellow tomato juice provides a delicious alcohol-free tomato hit.
An even more adventurous experience, this Clapham hotspot inspired by Victorian Britain gives a more experimental twist to its bygone-era cocktail fare. Their Bloody Ceasar with house-cured maple bacon infused vodka, spice, lemon, tomato juice and some clam broth thrown in for good measure is certainly worth tasting and comes topped with a strip of crispy maple-cured bacon – perfect for something a little more daring.
For supreme British style, The Connaught never fails to come up trumps. Slink over to the platinum 1920s bar and order their signature Bloody Mary whilst enjoying the gorgeous art deco décor. Their version of the legendary reviver comes with ‘celery air’ and is laced with the naga jolokia – one of the hottest chillies in the world – but the overall taste is one of sophisticated equilibrium.
Prefer something without the frills? Whether their steak or their cocktails, Hawksmoor cut straight to the chase with their ingredients and the no-fuss Bloody Marys have garnered much praise. For the traditionalists, the Number 4 is a simple but flavoursome vodka number with their own Hawksmoor Spice Mix. For something a dash more fruity, go for the Pickle House Mary with gin, lime and pickle juice – just the tonic for those after a touch more zing.
Nicole Harley is Editor at The Epicurean.