Boundary | Jonathan Pollack
Bloody mary connoisseurs know that the best ingredient in a perfect version of the drink is you. Fresh ingredients and top quality spirits are also key, but it’s putting them all together that is the true art. Then the recipe is limited only by the imagination.
These ten brunch destinations have pulled out all the stops to concoct masterful must-try bloody marys in St. Louis. Note: We didn't include bars that aren't open in the morning, including Famous Bar; this list is exclusively focused on helping you find that hair of the dog you need to start your day.
7036 Clayton Avenue, Hi-Pointe
At Boundary, house-made is the secret to this Bloody Mary haven. All infused vodkas, mixes, pickles and flavored salts are house-made with seasonal, local ingredients. The cocktail starts with a vodka of choice — either original or flavored with garlic, sundried tomatoes, cucumber or chili — and a flavored salt rim (choices include kosher, sriracha, chipotle, lime or Worcestershire). From there, guests can build the bloody mary of their dreams with mixes such as beef broth, shellfish broth and green tomato juice and condiments such as artisanal cheeses, hot sauces, stuffed olives, celery, house-made pickles, mild or habanero barbecue sausage, soused shrimp, regular or candied bacon, caper berries and horseradish.
4605 Olive Street, Central West End
photo courtesy of Cafe Osage
At Café Osage, the bloody mary is a perfect showcase for house-made seasonal pickles from vegetables grown on the premises at Bowood Farms and herbs from the rooftop garden. A house-made dry mix is composed of eight different spices; all of it comes together with Pickney Bend Vodka, made locally in New Haven, Missouri.
Brasserie by Niche
4580 Laclede Avenue, Central West End
photo courtesy of Brasserie by Niche
At Brasserie, bar manager Jeffrey Ward has riffed on a recipe from chef Gerard Craft. Extra spices come from freshly ground celery seed and black pepper crushed in a mortar and pestle. Lemon, lime and pickle juices add another layer of zest, which is then balanced with fresh cucumbers and brined cornichons.
Byrd and Barrel
3422 South Jefferson Avenue, Cherokee District
photo courtesy of Byrd and Barrel
The quirky fried chicken hotspot Byrd and Barrel serves up a fittingly distinctive bloody mary: It's rimmed with crushed Red Hot Riplets and hot sauce and topped with a fried chicken slider.
8100 Maryland Avenue, Clayton
Herbie's new incarnation, which relocated from the Central West End last year, still includes brunch. Lucky us. The restaurant offers a classic unlimited bloody mary bar every Saturday and Sunday for only $16, with Sobieski vodka or a house-made pepper-infused vodka and all the fixings, such as house-made bloody mary mix or tomato juice, house-made pickled vegetables and an assortment of hot sauces, Worcestershire, horseradish and more.
Turn the page for five more great selections.
Half & Half
8133 Maryland Avenue, Clayton
photo courtesy of Half & Half
The fried pickle atop the bloody mary at Half & Half definitely adds a “wow” factor. We're told that when other guests see one pass through the dining room at this Clayton hotspot, other tables usually follow shortly with orders of their own.
1415 South 18th Street, Lafayette Square
Bloody marys at SqWires are bottle-aged with triple-distilled vodka and a house-made mix. Each $13 bottle has enough for two bloody marys and includes a trip to the bloody mary bar, which boasts more than 50 ingredients. Virgin bloodys, which also include a trip to the bar, are only $9. And, for those who simply want to snack from the extensive bloody mary bar to stave off the hunger until their entree comes, access to the bar sans cocktail is just $7.
Hiro Asian Kitchen
1405 Washington Avenue, Downtown
photo courtesy of Hiro Asian Kitchen
The bar at Hiro Asian Kitchen takes the classic bloody mary to the next level with Asian fusion flair. The cocktail is at once spicy, savory and salty, with house-infused dill pickle vodka mingling with Korean kimchi, Korean spices, garlic and fish sauce. It’s served in a glass rimmed with Korean-spiced salt with a garnish of kimchi, olives and a lemon wedge.
Vin de Set
2017 Chouteau Avenue, Lafayette Square
photo courtesy of Vin de Set
Sunday brunch is a tradition at Vin de Set. The experience begins with a choice of rotating house-infused vodkas in flavors such as spicy garlic lime or cucumber dill. Those are then paired with a house-made mix, such as a garlic-spiked “vampire mix” or a subtly smooth “smoky mix.” Garnishes include pickled vegetables from the restaurant’s urban garden, bacon, shrimp, beef sticks, a variety of cheeses, stuffed olives and ten different kinds of hot sauce.
3150 South Grand Boulevard, Tower Grove East
photo courtesy of Rooster
and 1104 Locust Street, Downtown
The masterminds behind the bar at Rooster believe a good bloody mary is all about the mix. Theirs is made in-house with seventeen different ingredients — a recipe that was tested over and over (and over and over again; someone’s got to do it) until they found perfection. Their second tenet holds that rail vodkas sometimes hasten a hangover, so their bloody marys are made with Tito's, an American vodka that also has the benefit of being gluten-free.
Follow Sara Graham on Instagram and Twitter at @engagetaste. E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.