If chili has a liquid cousin, it is the Bloody Mary. Not for those obvious spice and tomato-based similarities, but because they share that passive-aggressive knack that blood-relations have so perfected for turning perfectly sunny conversations into thunderous affairs. It usually starts innocently enough with a rundown of what ingredients absolutely should not be included. But soon that brunch plate becomes a victory flag of sorts, waved about to illustrate whose Bloody Mary is better (always the one made by whomever is speaking at the moment).
If a drink like this is so personal, why are we bringing you our picks for the 7 Best Bloody Marys in L.A. (one for each day of the week)? Because in a city that does brunch as well as L.A., occasionally even home drinking advocates are going to take a sip or two beyond their own bar. And do note that yes, we are guilty of changing our bloody (Mary) minds all the time, as our top pick isn't the same as it was just a few months ago. With only 7 picks, we also left several other greats off the list for what we can only claim were clouded head hangover-induced reasons. Let the horseradish-slinging comments begin.
7. La Cita. We all have those weekends when friends insist we meet out for brunch, but we'd rather stay home and make our own damn Bloody Mary, thank you. Enter build-your-own Bloody Mary bars, essentially the salad bars of the cocktail world. They're certainly are not a new idea, and by Saturday at 10 a.m., the olives are out by the thousands around town. We give The Belmont in West Hollywood kudos as it has several base mixes from which to start and adds the brilliant addition of Slim Jims to the garnish pile (What better for a hangover than nitrates, preservatives and more alcohol?). But our favorite build-your-own bar is still La Cita. You can sit outside on the patio during their "Sunday Bloody Sunday" *afternoon* bar (Sundays 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.), getting every last weekend hour in before the workweek denial sets in. The bad rock music is free, but so are the boiled shrimp, salami, bacon and cheese cube garnishes. Pile on enough, and you've essentially got a salad bar shot with a vodka-tomato juice chaser. And Sunday night supper. 336 S. Hill St., Downtown, (213) 687-7111.
6. Simon L.A. The junk food platter at Simon L.A. still manages to get most of the online chatter, but the Bloody Marys are the reason we go back to Kerry Simon's trendier than thou Sofitel Hotel Simon L.A. digs. They're heavy on the tomato juice, with plenty of spice -- or not, if you're not into that sort of thing (just tell your waiter). With a Bloody Mary in hand on the gorgeous outdoor patio, it's hard to imagine any downsides to living in L.A. And then the Heidi Montag look-alikes settle in next to you. But we like to look at the plastic surgery backdrop as simply an excuse for another round. Sofitel Hotel, 8555 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 278-5444.
5. Vü Restaurant. Sipping a Bloody Mary at a harbor-front, farmer's market-driven restaurant with incredible views sounds like impossibly perfect. The catch? The kitchen at Vü has molecular gastronomy slant, bringing to mind visions of jellied vodka, tomato brine air, and other such ill-advised early morning deconstructions best left to the Friday night cocktail crowd. But actually, at Vü you simply get a Bloody Mary with tomato juice made from fresh-squeezed tomatoes, a dash of mustard, the ubiquitous Worcestershire splash, some olive juice and horseradish... and the rather brilliant addition of celery bitters. Jamaica Bay Inn, 4175 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, (310) 823-5333.
Turn the page for #4, etc....