Because no normal drinker could be entrusted with proclaiming the absolute best Bloody Marys in LA, we hit up someone who literally wrote the book on them: Shelley Buchanan, the author of The Drunken Tomato: A Definitive Guide to the Best Bloody Marys in Los Angeles and Orange County. Here're her picks...
The 12 best Bloody Marys in LA
Saddle Peak Lodge (click here for address and info)
The Spot: If you're trekking all the way to the West Valley anyway, you might as well duck into Saddle Peak -- a steakhouse that specializes in more exotic game like elk and pheasant, in a gorgeous, foliage-laden environment.
Shelley says: "Bacon-infused vodka is made in house, and for their Bloody, they combine that with a smoky, sweet bacon-like tomato mix, and top it with a thick, crunchy, maple-glazed bacon strip. So, yeah: you gotta like bacon."
Starling Diner (click here for address and info)
The Spot: This unlikely neighborhood restaurant in Long Beach is a local favorite, thanks to a family-friendly vibe and monstrous French toast.
Shelley says: "Slightly sweet and almost hinting of barbecue sauce, this savory tomato cocktail offers a very balanced flavor with just a bit of horseradish spice and a nice hit of Petrov fermented vodka. A brightly colored microgreen garnish stands in for the celery, and an equally bright orange stone crab claw not only gives this Bloody Mary-filled mug a nice pop of color, but also provides a delicious snack."
The Attic (click here for address and info)
The Spot: Formerly an actual home, this, uh, homey place has carved out its Long Beach-staple niche by plating dishes like a bison burger with cayenne bacon and short rib poutine with hand-cut fries.
Shelley says: "The Attic’s Bloody Mary menu offers no less than five Bloody Mary variations, including the ability to design your own custom recipe with everything from Slim Jim-stuffed olives to baby back ribs to a 4oz Barik pilsner beer back. But if you really want to go all out, order 'The Meaty Man', featuring bacon-infused vodka, a celery salt rim, demi sauce, jalapeno Tabasco, and a bacon and short rib slider garnish. This Bloody doubles as both a meal and a drink."
Sunny Spot (click here for address and info)
The Spot: Roy Choi's patio-equipped Venice-staurant is perhaps the least-lauded in his eating empire, but that doesn't mean it doesn't match the quality of POT, Kogi, or A-Frame.
Shelley says: "In my humble opinion, Sunny Spot offers the best all-you-can-drink Bloody Mary deal in the city. $9 gets you one Mary, or with the purchase of an entree, $15 gets you unlimited brunch cocktails. Garnished with a cucumber slice and lime wedge, and rimmed with a complex, salty seasoning, this cocktail brings intricate flavors and a fiery, pepper burn that coats your entire mouth with Caribbean-inspired flair."
Comme Ça (click here for address and info)
The Spot: Famous for its burgers, this chi-chi Melrose mainstay is where David Meyers made his name as the chef.
Shelly says: "The Maple Bacon Bloody Mary features bacon-infused vodka, maple syrup, cucumber, and a big bacon strip garnish, but the move is the aptly named Rooster Bloody Mary, which consists of vodka, a heavy helping of Sriracha, muddled citrus, and a bright red rim of togarashi -- a peppery Japanese spice mixture."
Brick + Mortar (click here for address and info)
The Spot: This SaMo gastropub is owned by the Broseph Restaurant Group, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about their dude-friendly vibe.
Shelley says: "Now THIS is a Bloody Mary bar. Go for brunch, and get yourself a glass full of vodka and spicy, barbecue-flavored house mix. Then go to work at their massive build-your-own Bloody bar. Hot sauces, olives, beef sticks, bacon, pickled everything, and even Brussels sprouts can be added to what will no doubt be a cocktail masterpiece. Or just a Bloody Mary with a Slim Jim. Either way, win."
Congregation Ale House (click here for address and info)
Pasadena, Long Beach, Azuza
The Spot: Beloved by craft beer-aficionados, this mini-chain offers a V-neck-in-Silverlake-level-deep list of quality brews.
Shelley says: "At Congregation Ale House, cilantro reigns supreme. With its fresh citrus aroma, this cilantro-spiked Bloody Mary features a strong tomato base that's light in consistency, bright in flavor, and heavy on the booze. And for only $7.50, you’ll get an entire pitcher (yes, I said pitcher) full of this uniquely flavored, properly garnished, and vodka-loaded cocktail."
La Cita (click here for address and info)
The Spot: Downtown's long-standing hipster-bar go-to for Mexican-themed day-drinking.
Shelley says: "$6 gets you a nearly full pint glass of vodka and ice. Then head to the build-your-own Bloody bar where the rest is up to you. Shrimp, bacon, pepper Jack cheese cubes, and an assortment of pickled items are but some of the garnishes available to skewer upon your foot-long bamboo stake."
Morel’s French Steakhouse & Bistro (click here for address and info)
The Spot: That French restaurant at the Grove you've likely walked by approximately 100 times.
Shelley says: "Bloody Marys made tableside are a bit like watching the theatrical cooking skills exhibited at your local teppanyaki restaurant. No, it doesn’t really add anything to the food itself, but it’s fun, it’s kitschy, and let’s face it, you enjoy a good show. Morel’s roaming Bloody Mary cart is just that. Watching a friendly bartender grate fresh horseradish root all over your pint-sized Bloody Mary is awesome, and it tastes good. End of story."
The Hungry Cat (click here for address and info)
The Spot: A classic Hollywood date spot hidden in an alcove across the street from the Hollywood ArcLight.
Shelley says: "The Bloodys can be described in one word -- fresh. Fresh tomatoes. Fresh peppers. Fresh everything else. The one to get is the Maryland Mary with a Maryland spice blend and a fresh oyster topper. Fresh."
Franklin & Company (click here for address and info)
The Spot: This relatively new Beachwood gastro bistro right by UCB has killer tater-tots and duck fat French fries, as well as other things not made from potatoes.
Shelley says: "Their brunch menu's got seven different Bloody Marys, including the Bloody LeRoy (fresh horseradish, BBQ sauce, and a fried onion ring garnish) and the Bloody Maureen (Guinness, house Mary mix, and a pickle spear). But the real highlight of the menu is The Bloody Royale, which's got (deep breath) a celery stalk, green olive, pickle spear, bacon-wrapped roasted jalapeño, pickled tomatillo, a fried onion ring, pepper Jack cheese, a roasted Brussels sprout, and an English burger slider. So, yeah, you may just skip your brunch entree altogether."
FIG (click here for address and info)
The Spot: Fig's Chef Ray Garcia's won just about every award there is, and deservedly so: his farm-fresh food's made this restaurant at the Fairmont a destination -- especially for brunch.
Shelley says: "California’s duck liver ban unfortunately put the kibosh on Fig’s once-famous foie gras Bloody Mary, but two Bloody variations still remain: the signature FIG Mary offers a citrusy, tangy, light-but-complex tomato mix that's fresh through and through, while the Bloody Maria features Peligroso Reposado Tequila and a prominent bacon strip garnish."
1. Saddle Peak Lodge419 Cold Canyon Rd, Calabasas
2. Starling Diner4114 E 3rd St, Long Beach
3. The Attic3441 E Broadway, Long Beach
4. Sunny Spot822 Washington Blvd, Venice
5. Comme Ca8479 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
6. Brick + Mortar2435 Main St, Santa Monica
7. Congregation Ale House201 E Broadway, Long Beach
8. La Cita Bar336 S Hill St, Los Angeles
9. Morel's Steakhouse189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles
10. Hungry Cat1555 Vine St, Los Angeles
11. Franklin & Company5923 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles
12. Fig101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica
The extensive wine list at this two-story stone lodge is completely California-made, all the time. So grab a bottle, or one of their famous Bloody Marys at brunch time. For eats, opt for the hand-chopped Angus beef tartare for a Summer dinner outside, or have a dish like Chilean sea bass done with a miso-sake glaze in spiced duck broth inside by the fireplace.
This award-winning Long Beach resto specializes in incredible brunch options (Stuffed French Toast!) and tantalizing Bloody Marys.
If you're at this eatery for breakfast -- which you should be -- and in the mood for eggs, The Blue Bayou with blue crab, jack cheese, scallions and served with potatoes is the way to go. The former craftsman house dots the menu with New Orleans, Southern Creole foods to complement the full bar and customizable Bloody Mary.
On the border of Venice and Marina del Rey, Sunny Spot is a stylish Caribbean-influenced restaurant whose casual menu is heavy on comfort food. The offerings include waffle fry poutine, a double cheeseburger, and chimichurri skirt steak. Though dinner is a given, Sunny Spot has a stellar brunch scene with a savory-leaning plates and bottomless mimosas, Bloody Marys, and rum punch.
Though its menu's traditional (Sole Meuniere, Escargot, Coq a Vin, etc), this modern'd up brasserie from the Sona chef also features various bars: cheese, raw, and booze.
This gastropub boasts a menu dotted with Spanish-inspired additions (tortillas, guajillo chili sauce, chile relleno with black beans) for breakfast and inventive toppings like green curry chicken on pizza. Outdoor seating with umbrellas amps up the relaxed vibe of the space.
The Congregational Ale House is a monastic-themed bars turned brewery with outposts in Long Beach, Azusa and Pasadena. CAH sought to bring a community and the spirit of Old World beers to LA. The chapters serve weekly drink and meal specials, including Serves food and weekly specials, including a la carte and combo options. With a diverse tap list, Congregation’s pourin’ for the masses.
This hipster haven boasts mariachi tunes, plus musical theme nights like "Punky Reggae" and "Mustache Monday". Check out this Downtown boozer on the weekends, too, because they're serving up a crazy Bloody Mary bar at what they've dubbed "Sunday Bloody Sunday". In addition to an indoor dance floor there is also a spacious outdoor patio to really spread out and sip on cheap but strong drinks.
This French steakhouse in the Grove may be known for serving up a mean plate of meat, but it's also slinging a killer Bloody Mary that's made tableside with fresh horseradish.
This slick, beachy seafoodery serves up raw bites like oysters, along with cooked fishes, burgers, and artfully mixed 'tails. Whether for lunch, brunch, or dinner, The Hungry Cat has been the go-to for inventive, LA-style seafood dishes for over a decade. Do it up by starting with a 1-, 2-, or 3-tier seafood platter, and pair your meal with one of the market-fresh cocktails that complement basically everything on the menu.
This casual neighborhood resto dishes out elevated American cuisine, including tasty bar bites/apps like bleu cheese tater tots, Scotch eggs, ahi tuna tacos, and fried oysters Rockefeller. And if you want a terrifically spicy Bloody Mary, look no further.
Resembling a lofty fashion barn w/ massive windows, striped banquettes and a circular wood bar, Fig's helmed by a chef who cut his teeth at far more uppity places like San Fran's Cyrus and Napa's French Laundry.