Friday and Saturday nights may be the most common times to explore DC's cocktail scene, but the true booze artists emerge on weekend mornings (or maybe afternoons). They're the ones mixing and topping your Bloody Mary. We’ve power-ranked DC’s craziest ruby-hued concoctions from 7 (that’s a little intense) to 1 (WTF, I’ll try it).
7. Logan Tavern
This Bloody Mary boss has an elaborate build-your-own bar that tempts your imagination to run wild. Start by selecting one of 16 liquors, including a few cool infusions, as well as your tomato juice, available in varying spice levels. Then play with adding flavors like wasabi and Sriracha before hitting up the toppings bar that's replete with fresh and pickled veggies, crispy potato strings, cream cheese, smoked bacon, steamed shrimp, herbed goat cheese tomatoes, and... well you get the idea.
6. The Source
This decadent dumpling emporium adjacent to the Newseum is best known for their Saturday dim sum brunch. There you’ll find four different Bloodies including two stunners: the Chesapeake and the District. Since we’re at the height of all things crab, the Chesapeake is a solid choice because it’s topped with horseradish panna cotta and a soupspoon of Maryland crab. The District, on the other hand, is ornamented with a cigar-sized half smoke and a black pepper-celery salt rim.
5. Evening Star
Why even order an entrée if this Bloody wears a hat of bacon and a mini grilled cheese? The base is pretty much perfection too, because it contains pickled green tomato juice, regular ole tomato juice, horseradish, Sriracha, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, celery seeds, salt, and pepper. It’s like an afternoon snack from the coolest Mom on the planet.
After building your perfect Bloody Mary base (get the Bakon vodka), head to the best part of the Barrel brunch menu. There you’ll find "Step 4 -- Pick Your Meat". The options astound: a Benton ham-wrapped scallop, a bacon brick, an andouille sausage, and finally a fat and juicy roasted poblano and cheese-stuffed sausage. Choose one, or say "turn down for what" and get all four. You also get to pick your hot sauce and salt rimmer.
The Bloody at Oyamel proves something can be gross AND good. That’s because it’s rimmed with "sal de gusano". For gringos, that means worm salt. The worms that inhabit the agave plant are dried and then ground down with chilies and sea salt. The wormy rim is your gateway to sips of a Bloody made with your pick of mezcal, tequila, or vodka, plus house-made tomato juice, lime juice, and guajillo chili. It’s garnished with cilantro and marigold.
This is NOT iced tea, so don’t ask your waitress to send it back. The Bloody Mary at Range by Bryan Voltaggio is a thing of beauty, primarily because it’s made from pig blood consommé. Picture a caldron simmering with bacon, pig blood, and all types of delicious veggies and spices that gets strained and boosted by Tito’s Vodka before making it to your glass. It’s a bit like drinking boozy minestrone, but the bacon and vodka sure do help.
1. Del Campo
Brian Fantana would dig this black beauty because its name, Pantera, means panther. Luckily it doesn't smell like any part of Bigfoot's anatomy. It’s full of Sol de Ica Acholado Pisco, fresh lemon, fish stock (yes, fish stock), red onions, celery, squid ink (yes, squid ink), applewood-smoked tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, fresh pepper, Moldova salt, and grilled rocoto. It’s salty, briny, and a Bloody Mary merit badge of sorts, plus you can tickle your brunchmates with the grilled tentacle garnish.
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1. Logan Tavern1423 P St NW, Washington DC
2. The Source575 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington
3. Evening Star Cafe2000 Mt Vernon Avenue, Alexandria
4. Barrel613 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington
5. Oyamel Cocina Mexicana401 7th St NW, Washington DC
6. RANGE5335 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington
7. Del Campo777 I Street NW, Washington
Located at Logan Circle, Logan Tavern is a bustling tavern and restaurant that dishes out American comfort food like Southern fried chicken, grass-fed burgers, and meatloaf. The Bloody Mary menu -- which lets you choose your vodka (or tequila if you're going for a Bloody Maria), type of juice, flavor add-ons (wasabi, Old Bay seasoning, horseradish), and edible accompaniments (pickles, celery, crispy potato strings, smoked bacon, fried onion rings) -- is the recipe for a perfect brunch.
The name Wolfgang Puck attached to this Penn Quarter restaurant should tell you two things right off the bat -- this place isn't messing around with its culinary technique, and dinner here isn't going for cheap. The sleek dining area, brightened by cheerful yellow accents and floor-to-ceiling windows, is always full of people (many of whom are tourists, given the location) vying for a taste of Asian-inspired cuisine like chili oil-poached Nordic Cod or soy-marinated lamb chops. On the other side of the restaurant, the bar and lounge are a little bit calmer and offer a slew of classic and specialty cocktails along with, of course, an impressive wine list.
The most Judas Priest-inspired restaurant name since You've Got Another Wing Coming Chicken Shack, Evening Star (third track on Hell Bent for Leather, look it up) is now back after renovation with a 60-seat dining room done up 1950s diner-style, and serving mod American entrees like buttermilk fried chicken with braised collards, crispy black drum and sautéed Brussels sprouts, dry-aged duck breast, and dirty rice with chicken livers.
If you're in Capitol Hill and you like bourbon, this Southern bar is for you. The bar menu features two full pages of bourbon varieties, and if brown water is too strong for you, there are also 16 domestic beers on tap, and a few wines. The two-level space includes a downstairs hideaway called Elixir Bar, where you can scan shelf after shelf of the impressive whiskey collection. Though Barrel is definitely a drinking spot, the kitchen serves a menu of Southern comfort-inspired food like fried chicken, mac & cheese, and bacon fried rice.
Because an expertly-prepared cucumber-infused margarita is nothing without a plate of salsa verde-topped pork tacos, Oyamel is an essential D.C. destination for all varieties of Mexican cuisine. From the extensive menu of ceviches and traditional antojitos (Mexican small plates) to the wildly eclectic selection of available tacos -- ranging from sautéed Oaxacan grasshoppers to braised beef tongue and seared mahi-mahi -- the kitchen makes sure to pay homage to the miraculous diversity that defines traditional Mexican cooking. The corn tortillas are hand-made, the meats are smoked in-house, and the bar prepares all of its own creative infusions. And last but very very far from least, the colorful blue-tiled eatery offers a daily happy hour featuring 1$ beers, 2$ tacos, and 5$ margaritas (which means for 20$ you can have a balanced meal of three margaritas and two tacos).
With 300 tables, two open kitchens, and a menu that borrows from both Italian and American cuisine, Bryan Voltaggio's newest restaurant shows some truly impressive range (sorry). Stationed in the Chevy Chase Pavilion, the sleek 14,000sqft eatery boasts a rotisserie-equipped wood-oven, a raw bar, and a separate in-house Salumeria for the careful treatment of locally-sourced poultry and game. The menu offers plenty of inventive small plates (alongside house-baked bread), an impressive list of Mid-Atlantic oyster options, and a variety of wood-fired pizzas. The meat-centric entrées like rotisserie pork shoulder topped with apple cider-mustard reduction are inventive (and tasty), and the expertly curated wine list is designed carefully around Range's staple menu items -- while the space is clean and minimal, the cuisine is nothing if not complex.
Using a wood-fired grill is one way to cook a steak, and at Del Campo, that smoke helps add another level of flavor to the meat. This upscale Argentinian restaurant in Chinatown is a beautiful tribute to Argentinian grilled meats, all served in an elegantly rustic space outfitted with oak wood floors and leather sling-back barstools- perfect for enjoying the 48oz ribeye on the menu.