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Austin's 11 Finest Bloody Marys of 2015

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Bloody Mary specialist and Eater Austin editor emeritus is back again with her picks for the fundamental brunch cocktail.

The Bloody Mary from Licha's Cantina
The Bloody Mary from Licha's Cantina
Licha's Cantina/Facebook

Brunch is often a gamble. Wait times can be heinous, but so too can it be bizarre to find yourself the only occupied table in a sprawling New Mod-merican restaurant blasting techno loud enough to induce a hangover in even the most sober of diners. And there’s always the potential for an overcooked poached-egg nightmare, and who knows what kind of champagne they’re pouring in those $1 unlimited mimosas?

But nothing quashes the sweet promise of a great weekend meal like a crappy Bloody Mary. Mayhap the mix comes out of a bottle delivered by Sysco, or "spicy" turns into "swift gastric distress." 'Marys are complicated cocktails, and too often bars and restaurants attempt to obfuscate a lazy composition with ostentatious garnishes.

In the service of reducing such brunch-related crime, I’ve taken it upon myself to drink a Bloody Mary at every opportunity, which means I consumed five dozen or so Bloodies in 2015—sometimes bravely taking on more than one a week. Here, I give you, dear Eater readers, the fruits (or vegetables? It’s complicated with tomatoes!) of my labor, hoping to help you help yourselves get more satisfyingly tipsy before the noon hour.

Launderette

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/5kRTOZlj_L/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

Grab a brunch seat at the bar and peer into the kitchen as you sip what may be the city’s finest classical Bloody Mary. You won’t find gimmicky bells and whistles in this drink, just a robust, tomatoey beverage, perfectly balanced with horseradish and lemon. At $6, it’s proof that a well crafted, house-made Bloody doesn’t need to force you to skip dessert to save your wallet—and at Launderette, you really don’t want to skip dessert.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

Contigo

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/5C_jJtFjwv/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

Contigo’s the place I take out-of-towners when they want to experience the "new" Austin they’ve heard about on the teevee. Nothing completes a sunny patio brunch like the fresh, bright Contigo Bloody Mary, which you can order with a variety of boozes (including aquavit), though I recommend sticking with vodka to really honor the beauty of Contigo’s mix.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

Hyde Park Bar and Grill

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/_hVNtLFj3J/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

Hyde Park is where you want to take your suburban parents when they come to town, and this no-frills Bloody Mary is what you want to drink before you take them on a walking tour of Hyde Park so you can wow them with tales of ridiculous Austin home prices. If Mom gives you hell for ordering two of these glasses of umami deliciousness, you can feel free to remind her that it's just three bucks.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

24 Diner

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/-6pRL1lj5g/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

Those willing to wait for a table behind every bachelor party in Austin shall be rewarded, and indeed they are with 24 Diner’s refreshing Bloody. The house-made pickles complete a tangy mix that’s sure to oil your gears before you meander 'round the corner to raid the Waterloo Records wares.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

La Condesa

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/9jOa2hljwd/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

A La Condesa patio seat is fantastic for people-watching, but it’s made absolutely perfect with $2—yes, TWO DOLLARS—Bloody Mary from this downtown Mexican staple. Not too thick and not too thin, the La Condesa Bloody is a thing of glorious, affordable beauty with which to wash down its stellar salsa selection.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

Licha's Cantina

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/8_Vk2_Fj1h/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

People who are into cocktails like to throw the word "balance" around, but the folks at Licha’s have mastered the tension between sweet and savory with its Bloody Mary. It’s an eminently drinkable beverage, simply garnished, and best enjoyed on the restaurant’s convivial patio.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

Vox Table

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/8YcYxslj5V/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

A Bloody Mary isn’t a cocktail to get weird with unless you really know what you’re doing, and Vox’s distinctively nouveau Bloody is worthy of the effort put into this divine drink, which features celery foam and a pipette of Tabasco. If you hate it—you won’t, though—you can always avail yourself of the accompanying High Life pony back.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

Fork & Vine

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/6K08QLlj5C/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

It’s dangerous to bank on a single flavor when mixing up a Bloody Mary, but Fork & Vine serves up a beautifully garlicky sake-based brunch drink. Sake ‘Marys often verge on the edge of too-thin, but this one, with house-made pickles, is an ideal complement to the restaurant’s outdoor vibe.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

La Palapa

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/3hnTAbFj9N/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

It’s fitting that a restaurant with a name as entertaining to say as "La Palapa" serves up a mighty fun michelada, complete with that down-home Tex-Mex joint upside-down beer. If your hangover is so bad you need a drink that takes two hands, the La Palapa michelada is the cure for what ails you.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

Weather Up

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/zsYWP-Fj3I/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

There’s much to lament about the New York-ification of Austin, but Weather Up’s fortifying Bloody Mary ain’t it. The NYC import makes a fine addition to the Austin brunch scene, and the bar’s pickle game is unrivaled in this lil’ backwater podunk town of ours.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

Hoover's Cooking

[Photo: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/yPjODtlj-m/">Andrea Grimes/Instagram</a>]

Chef Hoover Alexander is a gift that Austin doesn’t deserve and hasn’t earned, but he persists in providing some the finest old-school comfort food in town. The Hoover’s Bloody is finished with a garlic-pepper rim that makes for the most superb of sips. Get grandma one to go with her pancakes.

Image credit: Andrea Grimes

Vox Table [Closed]

1100 South Lamar Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78704 (512) 375-4869 Visit Website

24 Diner

600 North Lamar Boulevard, , TX 78703 (512) 472-5400 Visit Website

Licha's Cantina

1306 East 6th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 480-5960 Visit Website

Hoover's Cooking

2002 Manor Road, , TX 78722 (512) 479-5006 Visit Website

Launderette

2115 Holly Street, , TX 78702 (512) 382-1599 Visit Website

Hyde Park Bar & Grill

4206 Duval St, Austin, TX 78751 (512) 458-3168 Visit Website

La Condesa

400 West 2nd Street, , TX 78701 (512) 499-0300 Visit Website

Contigo

2027 Anchor Lane, , TX 78723 (512) 614-2260 Visit Website

Fork and Vine [Closed]

3010 W Anderson Ln, Austin, TX 78757 (512) 489-7000 Visit Website

La Palapa

6640 E Highway 290, Austin, TX 78723 (512) 459-8729 Visit Website

Weather Up

159 Duane Street, Manhattan, NY 10013 (212) 766-3202 Visit Website

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