The Bloody Mary, a mainstay of brunches from Balham to Bethnal Green in the capital, may be the adopted drink of London’s Sundays — but was actually created across the pond, in Paris.
It was in Harry’s Bar, a frequent haunt of Hemingway, that bartender Fernand Petiot shook the first Bloody Mary in 1921, created on the spur-of-the-moment and containing nothing but tomato juice and vodka.
Today, however, in our fair city of questionable and adventurous tastes, the ingredient list is significantly longer — with even the average Bloody Mary containing more cracked black pepper, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce than you can shake a celery stick at.
And that’s before we dive into the tomatoey depths of experimental cocktails and dedicated Bloody Mary menus. But, however you take your traditional brunch cocktail, we’ve found what we believe to be the seven best in London. And trust us — they’re bloody good.
At JinJuu, the Spiced Kimchi Mary is a meal in a glass
Or should that be meal on a glass? After all, this Soho-based Korean restaurant serves their own spin on the classic cocktail with gochugaru chilli flakes around the rim and a side of crackers to nibble on the side.
The rich, spicy Jinjuu bespoke kimchi spice mix gives the drink a kick — and the inclusion of a black pepper-infused soju is a neat nod to the traditional recipe.
Jinjuu Spiced Kimchi Mary
At Balthazar, this simple Bloody Mary ticks all the boxes
In the heart of Covent Garden, this restaurant serves some of the best French bistro-style food in London. So, given the provenance of the cocktail, it makes sense that they’d mix one of the best Bloody Marys, too.
Containing Wyborowa Vodka and the establishment’s own secret blend of juices and spices, we particularly like that you can upgrade your spirit to Belvedere or Grey Goose for just 75p extra.
Balthazar Bloody Mary
At Sea Containers, their big Bloody Mary is a savoury drink to savour
It may be the river view heightening the experience, but we’d wager this is perhaps the best Bloody Mary in the capital — and probably the biggest to boot.
It’s the definition of a classic done well, with a long glass filled with Grey Goose vodka and fresh tomato juice, lashings of black pepper and a wedge of lemon for that tangy kick to finish. The raft of small garnishes is also like a tasting menu in itself.
Sea Containers Bloody Mary
At Bucket, the Bloody Mary Shot is a tiny twist on the classic cocktail
In Westbourne Grove, Bucket is a restaurant reinventing seafood in the city. And this experimentation extends to the cocktail menu.
The Bloody Mary Shot, a one-gulp blend of Russian Standard Vodka, tomato juice, stinging sriracha and tart oyster sauce, is the ideal accompaniment to a side of shellfish.
Bloody Mary Shot
At 69 Colebroke Row, the Prairie Oyster is unlike anything you’ve ever seen
Drunk in one go, we’d say that the Prairie Oyster is a Bloody Mary with a twist — but there’s actually very little that’s identifiably either Bloody-ish or Mary-like about it at all.
In fact, it’s a complete reinvention; Tomato Yolk, Horseradish Vodka, Oloroso Sherry, Shallots, Pepper Sauce, Celery Salt and an Oyster Leaf served in a shell. The Bloody Mary mix is in that yolk — and yes, it’s as strange as it sounds.
At Kaia, Ned’s Umami Mary is the ideal addition to your Sunday Brunch
It may cost you £45 per person to enjoy Sunday Brunch at The Ned, but Asian-Pacific inspired restaurant Kaia serves up one of the best Bloody Marys in the city.
Part Grey Goose vodka, part Port Charlotte Whisky, the jewel in the crown of the Umami Mary is the spicy homemade mix, which allegedly hails from a recipe first concocted in early 1900s Japan. Earthy, sweet, comforting — and worth the cost of brunch alone.
Ned’s Umami Mary
At The Bull & Gate, the Secret Bloody Mary is a picky drinker’s dream
It’s not all swanky bars and hotels — some pubs do a cracking Bloody Mary, too. This Kentish Town local is one such establishment, where their Secret Bloody Mary comes with a wide range of optional garnishes, including bacon, fresh horseradish, and Tabasco & garlic infused cherry tomatoes.
The alternative Bloody Mary is also worth a sip. On Sunday, the ‘Bloody Nose’ is a mainstay of the ‘Re-tox’ Cocktail Menu, and contains Absolut Citron, Drambuie, Port, tomato juice, hot paprika, soy sauce, Tabasco and lemon. It’s bloody good.
Secret Bloody Mary