By Michelle Paltan
When we were children attempting to scare ourselves with Ouija boards and turn our basements into haunted houses, the term “Bloody Mary” had a different meaning. Today (being 21 years of age), the only scary thing about Bloody Marys’ is if the vodka isn’t strong enough to cure your hangover. Because this classic brunch cocktail is gaining popularity by the different types of garnishes you can add to the drink, it feels only right to guide people to the right hair of the dog (or hangover remedy) for them. Here are some recommendations if you want to pick your morning poison in the South Tampa area:
- The Bloody Beginner
Ava, an Italian inspired restaurant with a twist, has given their take on the cocktail with a simple addition to the usual garnishes of a Bloody Mary. Called the Maddon’s Mary (named and inspired by one of the co-owners of Ava, Joe Maddon, Manager of the Chicago Cubs) is made with vodka, Irish Dog Bloody Mary mix, and the rim is coated with old bay and hot sauce. The garnishes are expected: lemon, lime, olives and to add the Italian flare—a fried pepperoni stick. Matt, a bartender at Ava, admitted there was a debate for three or four weeks as to what to put on top. Rightfully so, they created a Mary that is suitable for any first timer: not too spicy (unless you eat the green olive, then really spicy), not too tomato-y, but just right.
Located: 718 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
- I Like Em’ Classy but Strong
If you’re a University of Tampa student and haven’t been to Oxford Exchange—it might be time to step out of your dorm room and into society. This bougie brunch spot is right across from campus and has the snazziest bloody around. The OE Bloody Mary is made with Belvedere Vodka and has a simple yet elegant garnish of a Caprese skewer. Caprese is an Italian salad that is as simple as it gets: grape tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil. The only addition to this skewer is the green olive that seems to be a must when it comes to toppings and this cocktail. “If you aren’t a huge Vodka fanatic, you can mix it up and add tequila to make a Bloody Maria or gin to make a Bloody Bulldog,” says Jason, a server at OE. This Bloody Mary is recommended for those who enjoy less tomato and more potato .
Located: 420 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33602
- Put a Little Bacon In It
Although known for the sushi and California cuisine, Ciccio’s/Water has a brunch that is suitable for anyone trying to get a good (and large) late afternoon fix for a reasonable price. This South Howard staple calls their rendition of the cocktail the “Monster Mary.” This fish bowl sized drink contains a leafy celery stick with some lemon, lime, green olives and a little fun twist of bacon in it. The rim is made of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper for a kick and some other spices for that element of surprise. “This drink is just the right combination of smoky, tomato, and a little bit of spice,” says Stephanie, a bartender and manager at Ciccio’s. The “Monster Mary” is recommended for those that enjoy both a little bit of a smoky flavor and the classic aspect of this drink
Located: 1015 S Howard Ave, Tampa FL, 33606
- OK Put A Lot of Bacon In It
This one is for the bacon lovers. More like a bacon Mary, the Datz-A-Mary gives you three different options to cure your hangover. Datz is a brunch, lunch and dinner restaurant attached to their famous bakery called Dough. Make a reservation or call ahead to eat here, as it is usually jam packed on a weekend. When I was finally able to order I told the bartender “give me the craziest one you got” and he created the “Bacon” Bloody Mary. This one had three slices of thick bacon, celery, and Salish smoked salt on the rim. There might have been some tomato in it but in this creation all you can taste is bacon grease and vodka. If you find your perfect combination, you can purchase these three different mixes in house.
Located: 2616 S MacDill Ave. Tampa, FL 33629
- The Mother of All Bloody Marys’
You won’t need to order anything to eat after you purchase this bad boy from Soho Backyard. “We don’t make our own Bloody Mary mix like some places try to say they do—we use Zing Zing, pepper, sriracha, the end. We don’t over think it, but I saw a huge Bloody Mary and we put our own spin on it,” says Bo, the owner of Soho Backyard. Basically, you order by the skewer of what you want in your drink. Bo chose two skewers for me, the first containing a piece of bacon, hot dog weenie, and a shrimp to start (if you thought that was it you are in for a surprise.). The second skewer had a duck wing on top and the second had grilled alligator. Yep, alligator. Apparently, this isn’t weird here; it’s just the Soho Backyard thing to do.
Located: 610 S Armenia Ave, Tampa, FL 33609