We’ve all been there: you stayed up too late, mixed too many colors of liquor, and woke up the morning after with a killer headache, ashtray mouth, and the spins. And now you need a Bloody Mary. And some ibuprofen, and water, and like a million other things, but let's stay focused, shall we?
Here's a list of the 14 best Bloodys this side of the Barbary Coast.
Persian Bloody Mary
Foreign Cinema (address and info)
This totally unique take on a Bloody Mary is as tasty as it is interesting, combining Indian curry with sherry, tequila, and... sumac, which apparently isn't always of the poison variety (we hope?).
The Ultimate Bloody Mary
Waterbar (address and info)
If you want to handle a hangover like the rich and famous, this Mary is your gal. This cocktail sauce-inspired Bloody comes with a super-spicy rim and is topped with crispy bacon, a cucumber, and two oxymorons. Let one of those jumbo shrimp take a deep dive to the bottom of the glass and enjoy its Grey Goose vodka-soaked goodness when the drink is gone. At $24, this Mary will set you back but then, aren’t you worth it?
Make-your-own Bloody Mary
Elixir (address and info)
Why have someone else decide what goes into your morning elixir when you can go to Elixir (!) for maybe the city's best MYO Bloody Mary bar with a tomato base recipe that GQ awarded for its excellence, plus as many additions as you want, or don't want. Probably the same amount of vodka though.
Bottomless build-your-own Bloody Mary
District (address and info)
If you like your Bloody Marys like you like your Kim Kardashians (bottomless), then grab brunch over at District where you can not only gorge yourself on its breakfast buffet, but also treat yourself to its seemingly unending make-your-own Mary bar. The bar is stocked with both spicy and mild mixes and includes top-notch garnishes like pickled peppercorn and giant olives. Pro tip: sneak over to the buffet and snag some bacon or shrimp to basically turn your cocktail into a protein drink.
Zeitgeist (address and info)
The chances of a Bloody Mary leading to a full-blown Sunday Funday are good. The chances of a Bloody Mary served at one of SF's best beer gardens leading to a full-blown Sunday Funday are much, much better.
Balsamic Bloody Mary
Zuni Cafe (address and info)
Zuni Cafe's well-known Bloody is well-known because it uses a Mary wildcard: balsamic vinegar, which adds a tangy-sweet flavor that tips the drink in an entirely different taste direction than you're used to.
Bender's Bloody Mary
Bender's Bar & Grill (address and info)
Wait, what's that we see poking out the top of this Bloody? That's right, it's a Slim Jim, which you're definitely going to wanna snap into, because it adds a decidedly welcome, meaty flavor to your rejuvenating morning drink.
BLT Bloody Mary
Thieves Tavern (address and info)
This weekend-only cocktail involves the usual mix of pickle juice, hot sauce, and horseradish, plus ACTUAL BBQ sauce and three important garnishes: red lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and candied bacon. Mmmm... candied bacon...
Nopa (address and info)
Nopa's morning re-constituter is a house-spiced tomato juice with pimentón and cayenne, with your choice of vodka, mezcal, or Scotch(yScotchScotch), all usually topped with house-pickled radishes.
Green Strawberry Bloody Mary
1760 (address and info)
This Polk St bar uses green strawberries as part of its essential mix along with fresh lemon juice, A1, and Sriracha to create this uniquely refreshing Mary. The strawberries give the drink a tart acidity like a sour beer, which helps cut the heavy tomato flavor. And while this Bloody lacks the aggressive heat of others, it instead leaves you with a zingy aftertaste. Oh, and 1760 uses only seasonal ingredients, so word on the street is this Mary will be changing from strawberry to bell pepper soon.
Bull's Head Bloody
The Cavalier (address and info)
The Bloody Mary did it, with Colman’s mustard, at The Cavalier. This extremely unique Mary utilizes a kick-you-in-the-mouth mustard powder that adds crazy-delicious nuance, and then they next-level the thing EVEN MORE with a house-made, red wine vinegar-infused cocktail onion, which gives the drink a savory-sweet element that you can eat layer by boozy layer.
The Tipsy Pig (address and info)
The Bloody Mary at The Tipsy Pig is not for the weak of sinuses. One sip of this horseradish-packed drink will be enough to clear you up proper. Served in a Mason jar (because we’re in San Francisco) with a generous celery salt and pepper rim, this Mary packs a sizable punch. The olives and celery do a good job of bringing a briny crunch to this spice-forward Mary and it pairs nicely with the creamy goat cheese scramble.
St. Mary’s Pub (address and info)
This is truly the Bloody Mary promised land, blessed is it among drinkers. Every Saturday and Sunday this joint (which was recently found to be established in 1933 and not 1948 like it says on all its T-shirts) slangs SEVEN different Bloody Marys. You can try a Bloody seasoned with everything from curry powder to chipotle sauce to wasabi. Your hangover's best friend, though, is the Florentine Mary, which is spiked with homemade pesto, house-pickled seasonal veggies, and fresh basil -- it's essentially a drinkable pizza and the last few sips are a gorgeous melange of residual spice and chunky pesto. All the veggies and horseradish are bought at local farmers markets and pickled in-house by owner, mom, former burlesque dancer, and jefe rojo, Maria Davis, who works hard to make every Mary shine.
Hi Tops (address and info)
If you're looking for a good, classic Bloody, Hi Tops' should do the trick. It uses a just-spicy-enough house mix and it's usually garnished with pickled asparagus and... pickles (or bacon if you're lucky).
Molly Sanchez is a writer, comedian, and lover of burritos everywhere. She has written for The Bold Italic and Liquid Bread, and has performed stand up at some of the city’s finest dive bars. You can find her on Twitter @seriousmolly.
Joe Starkey drank almost all of these Bloody Marys for "research." Shhhh, don't tell Thrillist on Twitter.
This article was originally published on May 23, 2014.
1. Zeitgeist199 Valencia St, San Francisco
2. Foreign Cinema2534 Mission St, San Francisco
3. Elixir3200 16th St, San Francisco
4. Nopa560 Divisadero St, San Francisco
5. Bender's Bar & Grill806 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco
6. Thieves Tavern496 14th St, San Francisco
7. Elite Cafe2049 Fillmore St, San Francisco
8. Zuni Cafe1658 Market St, San Francisco
9. Hi Tops2247 Market St., San Francisco
Zeitgeist is a fascinating combo of a dive and a biergarten that houses an eclectic blend of friendly patrons who are all there for the same reasons: to sample a bodacious variety of beer, enjoy the nice weather on the numerous outdoor picnic tables, or slug an award-winning Bloody Mary (and in many cases, all three).
The Mission's Foreign Cinema projects movies every night and serves a Californian menu with an oyster selection for the books. Where else can you find date-worthy dinner, one of the best brunches in the city (hello, house-made pop tarts), patio seating, and screenings of classic movies all under one roof? Trust us: this James Beard-nominated restaurant is one of the most important places you need to eat at in your lifetime.
Home to 350+ whiskies, Elixir, which opened in 1858, is the second oldest saloon in the city. The space feels like a combination of a pub, sports bar, and cocktail lounge, which accounts for their amazing diverse drink menu. Come for happy hour and stay until it transforms into a velvety candle-lit party, because why not?
Nopa is a San Francisco institution that does everything really, really well. It's the best brunch in Western Addition and one of the best in the whole city. Its burger is perfect with pickled onions and French fries, especially when eaten at the bar. It's a one-stop-shop for a date, a birthday dinner, or dinner with your parents. Plus, the kitchen is open until 1 AM for a full dinner. Yeah, this place wins at everything.
What looks like a rundown hole in the wall is, unsurprisingly, one of the Mission's best dive bars. Aside from an ample selection of draft beer and cheap well drinks, Bender's sports a pool table, a shambled yet adored back patio, and perfect drinking food like fried pickles, BBQ burgers, and tater tots.
Thieves is another SF pub chock full of hipsters... but, wait, they've got awesome brew, a jukebox, and pool? Get there.
Nestled into Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights, the handsome, wood-laden Elite Cafe is beloved for its New Orleans-inspired brunch and dinner menus, which feature dishes like breakfast biscuits with fried ham, chicken jambalaya with squash and turnips, crawfish etouffee, and duck gumbo. Make sure you save room for the bacchus, a giant bananas foster sundae with crème fraiche ice cream, chocolate pearls, toasted coconut, and walnuts. In addition to Creole classics, there are exceptional cocktail standbys like a Hurricane, a Sazerac, and (of course) Bloody Marys at brunch.
A culinary talisman for over thirty years, Zuni Cafe on the ever-bustling Market Street continues to serve New American cuisine with French and Italian influences. With a menu that changes daily, the element of surprise is never lost -- all while using the freshest, most sustainable ingredients.
Finally, a place to drink and relax where your sexuality isn't reduced to a stereotype. Hi Tops is a gay sports bar in The Castro that's decked out in benches made from bleachers, flat-screen televisions (16 of them, so they're always playing the game you came to watch), and Top Chef-level nachos, wings, and corn dogs. The speciality cocktails are a huge draw too, like the house Haterade that's served in a plastic water bottle.