Drink Off: Bloody Mary

Drink Off is back! This month we’re switching it up with the kind of beverage you want after a long night out in Old Town – the breakfast Bloody Mary. On Saturday and Sunday mornings when brunch lines are stretching out the door, you can’t miss the crowds of disheveled, hungover night owls blinking their bleary eyes and downing Bloodys like the water they should probably be drinking instead. But hey, hair of the dog and all that, right? Nothing cures a hangover like a Bloody Mary, if only because it allows you to prolong your alcoholic haze.

There’s a million and one ways to put a Bloody Mary together. Celery, shrimp, olives, pickled corn, pickled okra, pickled anything really – they’re all fair game to top a tall, cold glass of vodka and spiced tomato juice. I went to four popular morning-after brunch spots around Fort Collins to track down the best Bloody Mary in town.

Lucile’s 

400 S. Meldrum St.

This little yellow house on the corner of Meldrum and Magnolia serves up some of the best Louisiana breakfast in Fort Collins. It’s cute as a button, teeny-tiny, and extremely popular with the Sunday brunch crowd. They don’t accept reservations on weekends, so you know what that means – a long, long wait time. Fortunately, you can make that time go a whole lot faster with a couple Bloody Marys from the bar, although you might have to step on a few people to get to your drink. Survival of the fittest, baby.

The Lucile’s Bloody Mary has a well-balanced blend of tomato and vodka with a nice Cajun-infused spice mix. It comes with a large wooden skewer of accoutrements, including celery, a green olive, pickled okra (just like grandma used to make) and a plump peppered shrimp. If you’re stuck with a 40 minute wait-time before you can dive in to your fluffy beignets and Eggs Ponchartrain, this drink is hefty enough to count as a snack to tide you over. If the weather’s nasty, plan on double-fisting with a mug of their steaming black coffee – there’s no space to wait inside and vodka doesn’t warm you up as quickly as the Russians would lead you to believe.

Mayor of Old Town

632 S. Mason St.

Bloody Marys at a beer bar? Oh, heck yes! The Mayor of Old Town is famous for their 100 rotating taps of beer from near and far, but they also boast a full bar, a decent menu, and $3 Bloody Marys till 1pm on Sundays. But these aren’t your garden variety Bloodys. These tall glasses of deliciousness are mixed withe Ketel One and served with a shot of Nitro Cutthroat Porter from Odell. That $3 price tag just keeps looking better and better.

These Bloodys are made for sipping through a straw, which isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. The fat black straw comes wrapped with a thin slice of cucumber, along with a skewer of two olives and a lime wedge. If you’re the kind of drinker who immediately tosses the straw, your glass won’t look quite so pretty but it’ll still taste damn fine. The smooth maltiness of the porter mellows out the spice mix (although not too spicy to begin with) and keeps your palate alive. I could drink these all day, not just till 1 o’clock.

B&B’s Pickle Barrel

122 W. Laurel St.

The Pickle Barrel isn’t just for lunch and hockey. They also have a great breakfast menu that’s served all day – perfect for lazybones and the extremely hung-over. I’m in love with their Zesty Ranchero Homefries (it’s like a Toonces for breakfast!), and nothing washes it down better than a Bloody Mary from Andrew, the Barrel’s iconic Saturday morning bartender. He painted the insanely detailed picnic tables on the patio, so you know he has magic hands.

This is a fairly no-frills Bloody, with just a lime and a pickle spear (duh), but the mix here is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s spicy and fresh with a clean finish of citrus, even without the extra lime wedge. Of course, the Barrel’s been around since 1988, so they’ve had fifteen years to get it right. The hectic, long-lined lunch rush here is almost legendary, so there’s a nice sense of satisfaction in kicking back with your second or third Bloody while watching everyone else scramble for a seat.

Snooze

144 W. Mountain Ave.

If you think the brunch lines at Lucile’s are too long, don’t even try Snooze. Snagging anything less than an hour wait-time is cause for celebration in my book. Like Lucile’s, Snooze takes the sting out of the wait with their fresh morning cocktails, including some interesting spins on Bloody Marys. Some are better than others, but it’s always fun to try a new interpretation of a classic drink.

As for their regular Bloody Mary, I could take it or leave it. It gets the job done but it’s nothing particularly special. Topped with a cherry tomato, cucumber, and lemon wedge, there’s not a lot to snack on while you’re waiting for your table and the mix is a little bland – definitely a switch from their “Spicy” Bloody, which lights your mouth on fire quite nicely. If you’re craving some booze at Snooze, I would stick with the Morning Margarita or mimosas, unless an unusual Bloody catches your eye.

Did I miss any of your favorite Bloody Marys? Where do you go to get your morning drink on?

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