Santa Monica is L.A.’s only Belcampo Meat Co. location with a full liquor license, and co-founders Anya Fernald and Todd Robinson make the most of the opportunity. They tasked vaunted bartender Josh Goldman to create a destination cocktail program, and he delivered. For the house Bloody Mary he fat-washes Aylesbury Duck vodka with bacon and porcini powder. Clarified tomato juice and black pepper tincture join the fray, along with a celery ice cube. House-cured Belcampo bacon is baked to a crisp with black pepper and Demerara sugar and rests on the rim of a Collins glass, supporting tiny edible flowers. Goldman also created a vegetarian version called the Snapping Turtle that eliminates meat, but still delivers bite with horseradish oil and herbal infused vodka.
Connie & Ted’s, a modern New England inspired seafood house named for chef Michael Cimarusti’s maternal grandparents, is another successful venture with front of house maestro Donato Poto and a great place to grab weekend brunch. Their Bloody Mary pairs beautifully with their oceanic comfort food, featuring a punchy base and celery-bay leaf infused vodka. The icy glass touts several garnishes: a skewered pimento-stuffed olive, a lemon wedge, and cocktail onion, plus a celery stalk as big as a small cactus.
Talented wine pro Kathryn Weil Coker, husband Tug, and their RC Family partners have made Esters Wine Shop & Bar a neighborhood favorite for imbibing and light, drink-friendly bites. On weekends, the Esters Bloody Mary is a mainstay during their “boozy brunch.” Heirloom tomato juice joins Aylesbury Duck vodka in an Old Fashioned glass, along with bell, jalapeno and Anaheim peppers, spicy horseradish, lime juice, lemon juice, cornichon brine, and cornichons. The ingredients coalesce to deliver a spicy, tangy taste sensation. Comte cheese and salami Calabrese tag team to create a savory, unexpected garnish.
On a Mar Vista side street, home to the Sunday Mar Vista Farmers Market, Little Fatty is a great place to grab dim sum brunch and a serious Bloody Mary. Bartender Gabriella Mlynarczyk, who’s no longer with Little Fatty, created a potent Asian-inspired Bloody Mary that’s made with biodynamic Mell vodka, Roma tomato puree, dark soy sauce and Worcestershire for a double dose of umami, Asian chilies and peppercorns for kick, lime juice, tangy yuzu kosho paste, Maldon smoked sea salt, and dashes of Scrappy’s celery bitters and firewater tincture. The Collins glass touts a shichimi togarashi coated rim and comes garnished with a cocktail olive and pickled onion skewer and celery stalk.
Raphael Lunetta and his Divide + Conquer business partners Daniel Weinstock and Mike Garrett run twin concepts near Santa Monica College. Weekends bring brunch and House-Charred Bloody Marys to more casual Lunetta All Day. Each Collins glass hosts a fiery blend of vodka, charred tomato and tomatillo, dill, white pepper, black pepper, horseradish cream, garlic powder, and Tapatio. Each glass comes with a spicy Tajin rim, skewered pimento olive, lime, and charred cherry pepper, plus a purple orchid garnish.
NoMad, the deluxe hotel brand from Will Guidara and chef Daniel Humm that originated North of Madison Square Park in Manhattan, opened in Downtown L.A. in January 2018. At the small bar located off a grand dining room with towering octagon-patterned ceiling, bar manager Dave Purcell executes a vision that Make it Nice Hospitality Bar Director Leo Robitschek set forward in New York. They serve five different kinds of Bloody Marys for weekend brunch, and even offer a flight for truly thirsty individuals.
The most traditional Bloody Mary features Absolut vodka and base of tomato juice, house pickling liquid, celery salt, black pepper, and Tapatio, plus Worcestershire. This version comes garnished with pickled radish and cucumber. Caesar incorporates Clamato and comes with a Castelvetrano olive and lemon wedge garnish. Sherry subs in Amontillado Sherry, beets, and hot pepper for a far different base note and sports a lemon wedge. Bloody Bull features reduced pan drippings from NoMad’s famous chicken for two, adding richness. This glass also hosts Castelvetrano olives and a lemon wedge. Finally, Michelada is a light, refreshing version that skips vodka and tomato in favor of Peroni lager with piment d’espelette, orange and lime juices, red pepper vinegar, red pepper juice. Each glass comes garnished with Tajin, sea salt, and red pepper flakes.
Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, Terry Heller’s local chain of industrial chic gastropubs, features fun riffs on recognizable comfort foods, and takes their beverage program seriously. For weekend brunch, they serve a vodka based Bloody Mary made with spicy, gritty house mix, two pitted and skewered green olives, and lime garnish, with chile salt rim on one side of the pint glass. Bloody Marys, Micheladas, and Mimosas are all available bottomless.
Chef Neal Fraser and wife/partner Amy Knoll Fraser transformed the old Vibiana Cathedral rectory into Redbird, an awe-inspiring culinary destination. They serve a “classic” Bloody Mary, but bartender Tobin Shea found clarity by creating a more unique Modern Mary. Clarified tomato juice works harmoniously with clarified lemon juice, tangy white balsamic, fennel, basil, spicy pepper vodka, and fizzy soda water. A celery stalk garnish adds fibrous crunch to the drink, which arrives in a Collins glass.
Rossoblu is the Bologna-inspired Fashion District follow-up from Sotto co-founders Steve Samson and Dina Samson. The couple transferred bar manager Brynn Smith from Sotto and she’s turning out some inspired culinary creations. At brunch, her Brodo Mary enriches clarified tomato water with pork and chicken broth that's typically used for the restaurant’s signature tortellini in brodo. She provides a choice of spirit. How about smoky Verde mezcal? Vodka, gin, and tequila are also options. Rossoblu tops each Collins glass with some of the savoriest garnishes imaginable: silky prosciutto and green olives.
At The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney, Justin Pike created three different Bloody Marys for weekend brunch, and two remain on the menu. House Bloody incorporates vodka, aged tomato juice that rests for a full week to intensify flavor, and horseradish. A salt-and-pepper rim hosts a lemon wedge. Garnishes consist of a celery stalk, skewered olives and caperberry. Petite Mary balances vodka with crisp celery juice, citrus, salt, pepper and a tangy sumac-lined rim. Who knows - if customers ask nicely, maybe Pike will make his spicy 1920s style Bloody Mary.