The origin of the bloody mary is about as opaque as a bloody mary is. One of the more popular creation stories traces the origin of the bloody mary to Pete Petiot at the famous Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the early 1920s. The drink then stormed the shores of America when Petiot brought the drink with him when he moved to New York following the end of Prohibition.
Like most origin stories, this one doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny and the true creator of the bloody mary is likely lost to history. What everyone can agree on is that sometime in the 1930s, the bloody mary had established itself as the go-to drink for easing the pains of the prior night’s festivities. Given New Orleans’ love of a good late night party, it is no surprise that we excel at making bloody marys. Here are some of the best and most interesting bloody marys from around the city.
Favorite Bloody Marys
Regularly acknowledged on just about all of New Orleans’ “best of” bloody marys lists, Pat O’Briens bloody mary features their proprietary bloody mary mix, garnished with a spiced green bean and a lime wedge, and served in what is likely the most elegant glass on this list. Best of all, even if you can’t make it down to Pat O’s, their bloody mary mix is available to take home.
For many, the key to a good bloody mary is packing in as many vegetables as possible. Over at the Avenue Pub, they get you your vegetables in the most unexpected way by sneaking them into their vodka. The Avenue Pub’s cucumber vodka bloody mary has been described simply as “perfection.”
Sometimes the best bloody mary is just one made with love and care. Over at Elizabeth’s in Bywater, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Elizabeth’s bloody mary has a great balance between kick and refreshment. Not too spicy, but still with plenty of flavor. Like most New Orleans bloody marys, Elizabeth’s eschews the more traditional celery for green beans. The house bloody mary is so good, I’ve got friends that make it a must have every trip to New Orleans.
Most Interesting Bloody Marys
If you’re headed to Deanie’s, then you’ve got one thing on your mind: seafood, And you’re going to get it, even in your bloody mary. That’s right — Deanie’s is so committed to seafood, that they’ve even added one of the most interesting garnishes to their bloody mary, a fresh boiled shrimp, making it a cocktail and an appetizer all in one.
The city’s best bloody mary presentation is, unsurprisingly, at Commander’s Palace. The bloody mary mix is made in-house every single day and adjusted to take into account the varying flavors of the day’s fresh produce. As impressive as this is, the real magic happens tableside. When you order a bloody mary, a glass of the bloody mary base and garnish is brought out and the vodka is poured in tableside from a vodka bottle encased in ice. The presentation is as impressive as the generous pour you’ll get.
The Best Bloody Mary Bars
Bloody mary recipes are so varied, that you may never know what you’re going to get when you order one. Will it be too spicy or not spicy enough? Too much garnish or not enough? The best way to get a bloody mary you’re happy with is to build it yourself. At Salu, their Sunday bloody mary bar includes two types of house bloody mix, Zing Zang and a variety of toppings — olives, spicy green beans, bacon, pickled veggies, plus much more.
If you need a few more options in your bloody mary bar, check out the cool and funky Country Club in the Bywater. The Country Club’s bloody mary bar features more than 50 items to help you get whatever type of bloody mary you want. You’ve got several different types of bases to choose from, including tomato juice, a house mix, Clamato and V8 tomato juices, 15 different pickled vegetables, plus countless fresh vegetables, seasonings and other accoutrements.
Of course, no mention of bloody mary bars would be complete without mentioning the bloody mary bar pioneer, Atchafalaya. You can start with either a traditional tomato base or a green base made with tomatillos and green tomatoes. From there, you can spice up and garnish your bloody mary just about any way you can think. The bar features a wide array of vegetables and proteins including bacon, shrimp and more. With these kinds of options, it is no surprise that one of the earliest bloody mary bars in the city is still one of everyone’s favorites.