Turns out there may be a wrong way to drink a Bloody Mary: avoid tasteless V8-like mixes and half-hearted vodka pours at these nine Memphis establishments that go the extra mile for the ultimate hangover-killing cocktail. Maybe we're purists, but you're not going to see a whole lot of roasted chickens, pizzas, or piles of grilled cheese sandwiches sticking out of our glasses (unless it's the Burger Fest Bloody Mary competition, of course). So, get straight to the point with classic garnishes, homemade mixes, and infused vodkas.
The Majestic's award-winning Bloody Mary is completely house-made and crafted in small batches weekly with a secret combination of spices. Need proof it's worth a try? The popular downtown brunch spot goes through about 200 Bloody Marys each Saturday and Sunday.
One of Memphis' favorite places for brunch, Owen Brennan's naturally has an excellent Bloody Mary to complement its overflowing Cajun buffet. In fact, Brennan's Cajun Mary -- made with Absolut vodka, Zing Zang, a slew of hot sauces and spices, and bacon and cocktail shrimp garnishes -- won 1st place in Tennessee for Thrillist's 2013 "Best Bloody Mary" competition.
The newly renovated Irish pub and neighborhood institution goes with the tried-and-true Zing Zang mix as the foundation of its weekend brunch's Bloody Mary. But then the folks behind the bar take it up a notch with a special mix of olive and citrus juices before adding a celery stalk, more olives, and pickled okra.
Sure, you could go for the basic, dirt-cheap Bloody Mary at Bayou's uber-popular midtown brunch, but you'd be missing out. Instead order the upgrade: the award-winning Bayou Absolut Peppar Bloody Mary, made with pepper-infused vodka and garnished with a dill pickle spear, a banana pepper, an olive, and a lime.
The Bad Boy Bloody Mary gets its name for two reasons: first, the oversized wine glass it comes in is deceptively large and filled to the brim; second, the brunch cocktail is as spicy as it is potent. You'll be feeling good after one Bad Boy and ready for your brunch crepe special. It's garnished with a green olive, a lime, and pickled okra.
Alchemy's Bloody Mary bar lets you gussy up your Bloody Mary with choices of house-made regular or vegan mix, spice or no spice, and optional Clamato juice. Then, add anything from celery to jalapeño to the pickled veggies of the day, and finish it off with a rim of kosher, celery, or pink Himalayan salt. Go for broke with a garnish of blue cheese-stuffed olives.
Bardog's Bloody Mary mix is made by Memphis-area hot sauce company Crazy Good; it whips up a special version of its "Crazy Mary" mixer for Bardog with green chile dust, horseradish, and Worcestershire. Then the bartenders add a little extra pickle juice, a celery salt rim, and a collection of garnishes for the perfectly savory and rich hair-of-the-dog breakfast drink.
Get your weekend dose of lycopene at popular South Main gastropub South of Beale. The mix is a top-secret recipe from behind the bar, and they're garnished with lemon and lime wedges. At just four bucks during brunch, you'll be able to enjoy a couple of these Bloodies without breaking the bank.
Most folks head to the Second Line for things like fried shrimp, pimento cheese fries, and po-boys, but the bar at this NOLA-inspired establishment is just as on point with its Bloodies. There's just the right amount of spice and a healthy vodka pour, plus a garnish of olives, a lime wedge, celery, and pickled okra.
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1. The Majestic Grille145 S Main St, Memphis
2. Owen Brennan's6150 Poplar Ave, Memphis
3. Celtic Crossing903 South Cooper St, Memphis
4. The Bayou Bar & Grill2094 Madison Ave, Memphis
5. Beauty Shop966 Cooper St, Memphis
6. Alchemy940 South Cooper St, Memphis
7. Bardog Tavern73 Monroe Ave, Memphis
8. South of Beale361 S Main St, Memphis
9. The Second Line2144 Monroe Ave, Memphis
Centrally located Downtown, the Majestic Grille embodies all the glamour of its silver screen heyday. The cavernous restaurant used to be a movie theater, and the space maintains its original Art Deco feel with staggeringly high ceilings, gold embellishments, and an actual movie screen onto which Hollywood classics are projected. The menu consists of market-driven sandwiches, salads, and flatbread pizzas, but be sure to try standouts like the roasted mahi mahi with grilled artichoke butter and the addicting Parmesan fries.
The NOLA-inspired eatery boasts a room-filling brunch buffet including tons of fresh crawfish, shrimp, oysters, gumbo, and jambalaya. A sous-chef skillfully flips omelettes made-to-order, and there's a Benedict station. The Bloody Marys are flowing and there's Bananas Foster and bread pudding for dessert (your pre-lunch dessert).
Bangers and rashers meet French toast and cheesy eggs and at this neighborhood Irish pub on Sunday mornings. Sit inside with football fans (both American football and "soccer" football) for fish and chips and $4.50 Bloody Marys, or enjoy mellow live music and a mimosa carafe on the spacious, heated patio.
The Bayou is the place for laid-back Midtowners to stumble to on weekend mornings. It's a no-frills kind of place with $3 brunch drink specials and a sought-after patio. There's a Cajun spin on classic brunch dishes, like the Andouille sausage eggs Benedict served on biscuits instead of English muffins, or the Eggs Pontchantran with fried oysters and bacon.
Chef and restaurateur Karen Carrier's menu at The Beauty Shop is a myriad of bold international flavors and is just as inventive as the location: a 60's-era beauty salon redone with a few wash sinks and hair dryers still intact, redone as a swanky, eclectic restaurant with ravioli, crêpes,and beet-stained salmon gravlax.
The appropriately-named Alchemy offers the kind of dim, sexy atmosphere and sophisticated cocktails you might associate with Manhattan rather than our Midtown area. From behind the spacious bar, bartenders produce craft cocktails with ingredients that might be new to you, like The Alchemist (Eagle Rare, Antica, Aperol, and Peychaud bitters), and there're bourbon and scotch lists and a small plates menu.
Bardog Tavern offers a brunching man's brunch: hearty, simple, and heavy on the meat and carbs. Get a New York Strip and eggs, pancakes, fresh toast, or an avocado- and spicy mayo-laden lobster sandwich. Plus there are $4 Bloody Marys, mimosas, and "cheap screws" should you need some hair of the bardog.
South of Beale gastropub scores with its daily happy hour offering cheap beer, liquor drinks, and wines, plus $6 bar bites when hunger strikes. You can taste the South with the fried chicken & waffle sliders, and the South tastes good. If you feel like supporting your home team through alcohol consumption, you can also snag a blue-hued Grizz shot for just 3 bucks, anytime. The gastropub also features local artists and charities, so you can drink charitably.
As the casual cousin of Chef Kelly English's Restaurant Iris, The Second Line offers up simple, authentic New Orleans fare: think juicy roast beef po' boys with bread delivered fresh from NOLA as well as heaping trays of fried seafood, crawfish pimento cheese fries, "fancy ass cole slaw," and Natchitoches meat pies, and herb-infused cocktails.