The post-week malaise might just put you in need of a little hair of the dog. The classic brunch pick-me-up is, of course, the Bloody Mary. Nashville is a very brunchy city, so it’s no surprise that we have some outstanding versions of the classic vodka and spicy tomato juice libation, and some of the best are definitely far from ordinary.
Here are a dozen options for when the urge strikes you!
The battle for Music City’s most outrageous Bloody Mary is a fierce one. Party Fowl’s Brunch for Two is definitely memorable. The 55-ounce arrives at your table topped with two whole fried Cornish game hens, two whole scotch eggs, eight fried okra and one whole avocado. You might not need to order anything else if you’re splitting one of these, but then you’d miss out on some of Party Fowl’s other excellent brunch offerings including their Nashville Hot Chicken Benedict or Hot Chicken Stuffed French Toast.
In 12South, The Flipside offers a contender for the title of most over-the-top Bloody Mary with their version they call The Big Fix. The drink comes with a celery salt rim, not that you’d notice thanks to the distractions of all the other ingredients. Brace yourself for this list: Tito’s vodka, Clamato juice, pickle juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco and A1 steak sauce, and that’s just inside the glass. It’s topped with a giant pickle, three thick slabs of bacon, cucumber, olives, celery, pepperoncini, tater tots, chicken and an Alaskan snow crab claw.
Doc Holliday’s Saloon downtown doesn’t go quite as far as the previous two restaurants when it comes to stuffing an entire meal into their Bloody Mary. They do provide a plethora of bar snacks as part of the drink, which they brag is the best in town. Their spicy mix offers a nice complement to skewers of cheese cubes, sausages, shrimp, onions, olives, celery, carrots and bacon. Snack to your heart(burn’s) content.
At the hip pan-Asian Sunda in the Gulch, they serve what they call a Sumo Mary. It is indeed sumo-sized, served in a 32-ounce jar and stuffed with Asian-inspired flavors like a tocino (Spanish bacon) grilled cheese sandwich, pork belly bao, shrimp, crab, handrolls, wok fried shishito peppers and applewood smoked bacon. You’d better plan to extend brunch and then for a long nap after this one.
Some of the other best Bloody Marys in town don’t depend on all the crazy toppings. Instead they concentrate on exotic flavors and ingredients within the construct of a more traditional cocktail. At Marché Artisan Foods in East Nashville, they offer what they call a Carrot Mary. The addition of fresh-squeezed carrot juice to the mix adds a delightful hint of sweetness to the otherwise spicy drink.
While the rest of the food at Husk is often considered to be “elevated” and maybe even a little “cheffy,” their brunch service features at least a few straight ahead Southern breakfast classics that are executed so well that they rise above the level of your usual Sunday Funday meal. The bar’s Bloody Mary definitely fits in that category, seemingly a standard classic version, but deeply nuanced thanks to a recipe that is rumored to include dozens of artisan ingredients. Don’t overthink it; drink it!
Tavern is one of the most popular brunch spots in Midtown, and if you don’t believe us, just try to walk in at 1:00 on a college football Saturday. They feature two Bloodys worth your attention, the Wicked Mary with spicy infused vodka, pepperoncinis, olives and jalapeño and the Cucumber Mary, a tamer affair with a hint of cuke to cut the spicy tomato mix.
In the Nations, 51st North Taproom & Grill reigns supreme with their Bloody Mary game. The drink exhibits a nice balance of tangy citrus and pickle juice along with a splash of stout beer to contribute an earthy effervescence.
Many Nashvillians drive or walk right past 417 Union without realizing that the cozy eatery even exists, much less that they have one the most beloved Bloodys in town. Befitting the old school vibe of the joint, 417’s version of the brunch eye-opener is an old school classic, spicy enough to get your attention and simply garnished with slices of lemon and lime. Oh, and bacon. There’s definitely bacon to make it better.
No chef in town does a better job with exotic flavors than Maneet Chauhan. At her Chauhan Ale & Masala House she has devised her own proprietary Bloody Mary mix which she augments with a house tomatillo sauce to add extra sweet and sour elements to the drink. It’s a winner!
Tánsuŏ is one of Chauhan’s two sister restaurants in the same building, but it focuses on Chinese food instead. So it’s logical that their Rising Phoenix version of the Bloody Mary features fun Asian elements such as fresh ginger, sriracha, oyster sauce along with tomato juice and vodka — plenty of vodka.
The third occupant of the same building that is home to Chuahan and Tánsuŏ is The Mockingbird, a playful modern diner with accents on international flavors. Many of the drinks and entrees have punny names, including their Bloody Thirsty, a fantastic Bloody Mary made using executive chef Brian Riggenbach’s homemade hot sauce in the mix along with tomato juice, anchovies and vodka. The secret ingredient is a splash of Steel Barrel Kolsch beer made by a brewery that is also co-owned by chef Chauhan and her husband.