During her meager five-year reign in the 16th century, Queen Mary I earned her macabre moniker by burning almost 300 religious rebels at the stake. Today, we honor Bloody Mary by swilling her namesake cocktail, usually while trying to ease a hangover. Because Philadelphians are no stranger to history (or hangovers), here are five great Bloody Marys in the City of Brotherly Love:
Hours: Mon – Fri 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sat – Sun: 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.
This unassuming restaurant in the Italian Market area serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You may be surprised to find such gems on its menu as poached pear crepes (with Frangelico maple syrup) and tofu scramble, a vegetarian’s delight made with roasted peppers, wilted spinach and vegetarian sausage. Even more surprising may be Royal Tavern’s affordable Bloody Mary. Philadelphia Weekly voted the $5 cocktail into its Top 50 Must-Eats list, saying, “The meal-like drink made with chunky horseradish and suspended in a tomato, vodka and Worcestershire emulsion is tasty, filling and thicker than Beyonce’s backside.” That pretty much says it all.
Hours: Daily: 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Brunch Sat & Sun: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Fishtown has a champ, and its name is Standard Tap. Voted 2011’s Best Bloody Mary by Philadelphia magazine, this restorative concoction, rich and robust and garnished with pickled veggies, has been winning rave reviews all over the foodie blogs and chat rooms. The fans singing its praises can’t talk enough about its weekend brunch, which is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A favorite on the ever-changing menu is the breakfast burrito; scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese, wrapped in a grilled tortilla, sliced and served with black beans, home fries and fun condiments. Customers also love the bartenders, who seem to be the friendliest in town.
Hours: Mon – Fri 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Sat 9 p.m. – 11 p.m.; Closed Sunday
The Oyster House, a third generation eatery in Rittenhouse Square, has a couple of unique twists on the classic. The Bloody Caesar is made with real clam juice, Sobieski vodka, spicy tomoato juice and horseradish and sells for $8.50; the Bloody Viking is a gutsy combination that includes homemade aquavit and some surprising spices for $9.50. If you’re a seafood lover, don’t miss Oyster House’s raw bar offerings and if you happen to be there during Oyster Hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday nights), be sure to take advantage of Buck-a-shuck, where the Oyster of the Day is only $1.00 and oyster shooters are $3.00 each.
Hours: Mon 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Tue-Fri 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sat-Sun 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
In the Art Museum District, London Grill is a great neighborhood bar with good, interesting food and a mean Make-Your-Own Bloody Mary bar for brunch. You can have your Mary with smoked-meat infused vodkas, chile pepper and kaffir lime-infused tequila and Danish akvavit. The house-made mixers range from mild to smokin’. Brunch is from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and offers lots of appealing choices like eggs Florentine and a grilled chicken and brie sandwich. For an added nice touch, each table gets a complimentary fresh fruit salad.
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Hours: Mon 5 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Tue-Sun 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Housed in the original National Mechanics building, which has been around since 1837, this eclectic eatery is as fun to look at as it is to dine in. Plan to be there for brunch on Saturdays or Sundays (11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and partake in Philly’s favorite Bloody Mary bar. You pay for your vodka only; all of the add-ins are free. They start you with vodka in a pint glass with ice and celery and then encourage you to have at it. There are over 50 ingredients available to soup up your Mary; their house Bloody Mary mix, fried garlic, hot sauces and pickled everything. They even have their own bacon vodka, which makes your Bloody Mary a little like drinking a BLT. The brunch menu has some inspired dishes, like eggs Maryland (eggs Benedict with a crabcake), French baguette toast served with chopped bananas, candied walnuts, berries and syrup and tofu scramble with tomatoes, onions, Oaxaca cheese and cilantro.
Related: Best brunch spots in Philadelphia.
Whether you want to sit down and be served a rich and spicy Bloody Mary or play bartender and craft your own bloody mess, Philly’s got you covered.
Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.