Eating pork while boozing at brunch is just a way of life around these parts. In fact, we've gotten so good at it, we've just combined the two into one glorious bacon-y vodka-filled beverage: the Bloody Mary. We asked the connoisseurs at BloodyBest to sort through skewers of pizza, pork belly, and grilled cheese, and power-rank Chicago's 10 most ludicrously stacked Bloody Marys.
"You put tomato juice in a Bloody, add bacon and lettuce, and you've got yourself a drinkable BLT with no need for frilly toothpicks. This spicy number also comes with toast, but we had you at bacon, didn’t we?"
"While taking down a rack of ribs at Smoke Daddy, sip on their Famous Bloody Mary topped with warm smoked brisket and pulled pork. If you come down with a case of meat sweats, cool off with a chaser of High Life."
"For $5 at Rockit, you get a hearty mug of house-made Bloody mix and Absolut Peppar, then you choose your own adventure from there. The menu claims at least 18 garnishes and ingredients -- but the chart at the bar adds up to 30. Prepare to be overwhelmed by shrimp, ham-wrapped cheese, pretzels, hot peppers, pickles, olives… and the list continues."
"Trust us on this one: choose Handlebar’s Bloody Hammer over the regular weekend Bloody special. This one's made with house-made Bloody Mary mix, Stoli Citros, a splash of Guinness, olives, cherry pepper, and a fried pickle that's been soaked in boozy tomato juice -- it’s the stuff dreams are made of."
"More than a clever name and a pretty face, the Morning-After Mary clearly wins for garnish alone. Has anyone else seen a Bloody Mary with an oyster garnish? Well you have, because you're looking at the picture, but nobody else. The smoky maple bacon, lemon slice, and rosemary sprig don't hurt either."
"We don’t do ketchup in this town, but who says your hot dog can’t swim in tomato juice? The Grid’s Bloody is a deconstructed take on the Chicago Dog with a poppyseed bun, peppers, onion, and tomato. Take that, New York, and your inferior hot dogs!"
"It's proven science that cold pizza cures hangovers. We’re guessing that’s the inspiration behind this Bloody Mary that comes complete with a cold slice of Hawaiian-style pizza, pepperoni, pepperoncini, and a Miller High Life pony."
"Jimmy Green’s combines both of our city’s loves (hot dogs and sports) with a mini-yet-mighty Chicago-style dog atop its Bloody. This will make those early morning World Cup matches (and watching soccer) tolerable."
"Chances are, you’ve made a late-night stop at White Castle in a Harold & Kumar state of mind. Headquarters Beercade will make you forget you ever forgot your cell phone at home with this Slip N' Slider, an insanely garnished Bloody Mary with a stack of meats, cheeses, veggies, and a White Castle slider. The Crave Case-version of a Bloody Mary."
"Good luck wrestling the city's most ridiculous Bloody Mary. 32oz of Bloody mix and Absolut Chicago vodka (distilled Ditka sweat?) in a mason jar, boldly garnished with: Chinese broccoli, loompya stick, herb-roasted potatoes, Oshinko, tocino grilled cheese, baked snow crab hand roll, duck bao, braised pork belly, and three slices of bacon. Come for the vodka and tomato juice, stay for the Chinese buffet perched on top."
Follow Elaine and Amber on their quest to consume all the best Bloody Marys in Chicago at BloodyBest.com.
Sean Cooley is Thrillist's Chicago Editor, and he lives his life by Anthony Kiedis lyrics. Follow him @SeanCooley.
1. Sunda110 W Illinois St, Chicago
2. Headquarters Beercade213 W Institute Pl, Chicago
3. Jimmy Green's825 S State St, Chicago
4. The Grid351 W Hubbard St, Chicago
5. Homeslice938 W Webster Ave, Chicago
6. The Savoy1408 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
7. Hash House A Go Go1212 N State Pkwy, Chicago
8. The Handlebar2311 W North Ave, Chicago
9. The Smoke Daddy1804 W Division St, Chicago
10. Rockit Bar & Grill Wrigleyville3700 N. Clark, Chicago
Toeing the line between swanky hotspot and sophisticated dining destination, this Asian fusion concept from Rockit Ranch Productions is a worthy choice for an undeniably hip meal out in River North. The menu offers some seriously interesting eats (duck breast kimchi, oxtail pot stickers) and includes sushi, sashimi, and plenty of wok dishes. The beer list is heavy on the Asian pours, and there are sake and speciality cocktails as well. Sunda's decor feels just as sleek as the menu with polished black bamboo and high wooden tables.
Cheers to never growing up. Headquarters Beercade lets you relive your childhood with all of the video games you loved and the added bonus of being able to consume alcohol while you play. There’s an extensive list of American craft drafts and games galore: whether you’re a pinball wizard looking for your next conquest, or brushing up your skills at arcade classics like NBA Jam and Mortal Combat, this bar is a gamer’s paradise. The space itself is sprawling and the vibe is convivial, making it a popular weekend destination for groups.
With an upscale sports-joint-cum-boutique-hotel vibe that continues the hood's trend of classy development, JG's cavernous silver-and-black, florescent lit, sleekly modern digs house a bowel-voiding sound system supporting 22 flat screens and a massive projection screen (hey, it may be South Loop, but it is still Chicago).
This subterranean lounge serves next-level bar snacks (duck fat popcorn, pad Thai-flavored peanuts), and jars full of spreadable goodness like cave-aged cheddar "pimento" spread w/ roasted red peppers, and flageolet beans with truffle Amere bitters. They're also making top-notch cocktails, like Thai-style mojitos.
Homeslice is a retro log cabin pizzeria boasting 30 signature thin crust pies made with six base sauces (BBQ, ranch, spinach ricotta... ). The interior is incredibly rustic, with 400 pounds of exposed Douglas Fir tree beams that Oregon natives imported from the Northwest.
At The Savoy you'll find a raw bar with East/West coast oysters, inventive seafood dishes, and pre-prohibition era cocktails. Also offered: a 40-strong list of absinthe, served either traditionally or in cocktails. Enjoy your evening filled with hallucinogens and aphrodisiacs!
Just one of multiple locations across the US, Hash House serves hearty breakfasts, lunches, and dinners using farm-fresh ingredients and old secret recipes.
This hipster-approved restaurant and bar in Wicker Park serves a vegan and vegetarian menu of American classics. Breakfast is served daily until 3pm (don't worry, there are plenty of egg dishes) but expect seitan sausage instead of bacon. The rest of the menu (it serves lunch and dinner too) is filled with meat-free bar bites like fried avocado tacos, chili cheese fries (available with vegan queso), soy-based sloppy Joes, all of which taste especially good when paired with a drink in the beer garden.
Smoke Daddy is a BBQ emporium in Wicker Park serving up sauce-slathered eats like ribs and brisket, while also showing its more delicate side with brunch that includes something called a "Big Daddy Breakfast."
The Rockit Ranchers are bringing a bi-level sibling of their River North flagship to the Cubs' backyard, serving up original favorites like the ballyhooed Brie-slathered Kobe "Rockit Burger".