The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 5 Bloody Marys
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.
Photo by Sanctu
Well, good morning, sunshine. You look like you could use a little hair of the dog. And a Bloody Mary is just the trick.
Unfortunately, it's often hard to find a suitable Bloody Mary in Houston. Too many restaurants skimp on the ingredients, subbing in watery tomato juice or flaccid celery sticks. Just as many skimp on the spice. And an increasing number of restaurants keep trying to jazz up what should be a straightforward, hearty cocktail meant for rejuvenation. I understand; the Bloody Mary has been called the world's most complex cocktail for a reason, and that reason is the fact that there are so many possible permutations of the beverage.
I don't want a sake-based Bloody Mary. I don't want a Bloody Mary filled with bacon. I just want a regular damn tomato-and-vodka cocktail with some salty, crunchy garnishes to take my mind off the gnawing pain in my head and a healthy kick to wake me up.
5. Shiloh Club
Like the No. 3 entry on the list, this neighborhood-y dive bar makes its own terrific in-house Bloody Mary mix. In addition, the Shiloh Club also makes its own pickled green beans with habanero peppers as a garnish. The combination of garnish and mix and a glug of well vodka makes for a wholly delicious yet unpretentious drink that kicks like a mule and doesn't hit you where it hurts -- in the wallet.
4. Cadillac Bar
Photo by Jane Catherine Collins Mugsy's makes 'em right.
It's hard to beat the Bloody Marys at the Cadillac Bar on Shepherd -- because you make them yourself as part of the Cadillac's elaborate Sunday brunch buffet. The bartender pours some vodka over the rocks and hands you the glass. Then comes the most ornate do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar you've ever seen: several varieties of tomato juice cocktail, celery stalks, pickled okra, baby corn, olives, cocktail onions, pickled peppers, fresh peppers, bottled pepper sauces, Worcestershire, celery salt, lemon and limes too. In fact, the only important ingredient missing from the line-up is horseradish. Horseradish isn't Tex-Mex, the bartender says. If you think horseradish is critical to a perfect Bloody Mary, you better bring your own.
Mugsy's serves its Bloody Mary as a perfect blend of spicy and hot. The homemade mix doesn't go overboard on the tomato juice, and the hint of Worcester sauce gives it a meaty taste that many mixes regretfully forego.