No brunch is complete without a bloody mary. Richard Ehrlich picks London’s greatest.
The classic mary
All the Hawksmoor bars knock out playful riffs on the mary motif – the No 7 includes a dash of porter, and the Pickle House Mary, made with gin, includes pickle juice and pink salt. If you like a more straightforward version, go for No 4: just vodka, tomato juice and the house spice mix. Sometimes simple is best. 157 Commercial St, E1 6BJ. Liverpool St.
The New York mary
The bloody mary brunch was hot in the USA long before it caught fire here, so it’s no surprise that Balthazar – which started in New York – does one of the meanest marys in town. There’s a delicious virgin mary (without alcohol), but the stiff vodka-powered original is hard to beat, its spirit matched by savoury V8 juice and horseradish heat. 4-6 Russell St, WC2B 5HZ. Covent Garden.
The fierce and fiery mary
Getting a table at ‘speakeasy’ Nightjar isn’t always easy. But if you love a bloody mary that packs more incendiary punch than a tank of propane, it’s worth the hassle. Fiery to taste, gorgeous to look at and with unspecified vegetables that probably contribute to your five-a-day – there’s nothing to regret here. 129 City Rd, EC1V 1JB. Old St.
The horseradish mary
Lots of people swear that you can’t make a top-ranking bloody mary without horseradish. To see if they’re right, canter to one of the bars overseen by cocktail wizard Tony Conigliaro, such as Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell. Here they infuse vodka with the pungent root and use the concoction in their drinks, which are otherwise pretty straight-ahead creations – and always beautifully made. 49-50 St John’s Square, EC1V 4JJ. Farringdon.
The quirky mary
Ever-popular Fitzrovia bar and restaurant Newman Street Tavern serves a quintet of ‘hail marys’. It starts with the classic version (pictured) but goes off-piste, using different spirits as the base and throwing in oddball ingredients like spicy biltong. And with the bloody caesar (gin, clam stock, cucumber), you can even order an optional oyster. 48 Newman St, W1T 1QQ. Goodge St.
Take a look at the best breakfasts and brunches in London.