Martinis, sidecars, and Irish coffees usually get top billing the headlines as San Francisco's most iconic cocktails. But if you're out and about in the city any given weekend morning, you'll come to find how much SF is in love with a good ole Bloody Mary (maybe it's all the hangovers?).
But foodies that we are, we're rarely content with just tomato juice and horseradish. Rather, we lace our brunch beverage of choice with everything from tomatillos to miso and bacon. As for garnishes, well, let's just say that, sometimes, there's no toothpick large enough to hold all the fried chicken, salami, and shrimp piled on top of the glass. From classics to crazies, here are our 16 favorite Bloody Marys in San Francisco.
The Bloody Mary at Violet's Tavern in the Outer Richmond.
The Outer Richmond's crazy popular, spruced-up tavern has been a hit since opening night for evening cocktails, oysters, and messy-great burgers. However, let's not forget strong weekend brunch game. Toasted spices, housemade hot sauce, fish sauce, and horseradish give a deep umami element to the customary tomato juice body, finished with a drinker's choice of gin, tequila, or vodka. // 2301 Clement St. (Outer Richmond), violets-sf.com
The Verde Bloody Mary has a hot hit of mezcal and Ancho Reyes.
(Courtesy of The Saratoga)
When it comes to creative Bloody Marys, there is The Saratoga and then pretty much the rest. The Verde starts with mezcal, Ancho Reyes Verde, and tomatillo, while the Root has gin, aquavit, ginger, carrot, mango-habañero, and a whole bunch more. Why not also add some fried chicken or poached shrimp as garnishes because you can? If creativity isn't your jam, there's always the tried-and-true classic. // 1000 Larkin St. (Lower Nob Hill), thesaratogasf.com
Zuni Cafe's Balsamic Bloody Mary has earned a well-deserved spot on virtually every roundup of the city's best bloodies—and once you try it, it's crystal clear why. The key is how Zuni swaps out Worcestshire for a touch of balsamic vinegar, providing a sweet and tangy kick to the whole tomato and vodka situation that's irresistible. // 1658 Market St. (Hayes Valley), zunicafe.com.
Start the day with a ceviche-inspired Bloody Mary.
(Courtesy of Kaiyo)
The Blood-C at the Union Street Nikkei cuisine hotspot channels the extensive ceviche options on the menu with the addition of leche de tigre to a powerfully earthy roasted tomato and bell pepper base. Booze options are highbrow and since there's already some smokiness going on, this is the time to opt for mezcal. // 1838 Union St. (Cow Hollow), kaiyosf.com
The bacon-y bloody at Bluestem Brasserie.
Did Bluestem Brasserie really go there? Oh yes they did—get that bacon off the garnish and infuse it in the drink! It's a brilliant move, elevating the drink to the same level as the food at one of the city's most comprehensive (and indulgent) weekend brunches. // 1 Yerba Buena Ln. (Union Square), bluestembrasserie.com
It'd be a crime to talk about SF Bloody Marys without giving Zeitgeist a shout-out. Yes, Zeitgeist is best known for its astounding local beer selection (well, it's known for other things too...) but trust us, the Mission bar's vodka-heavy recipe is the perfect balance of spicy, smooth, and strong, with a generous amount of vegetable garnishes to balance it out. Of course, it's best enjoyed outside on the biergarten patio. // 199 Valencia St. (Mission), zeitgestsf.com
Forget one, this Castro watering hole has seven Bloody Marys on their menu, all named after famous Marys (including Mary Christmas!). Harvey's is serving up everything from the pepper-infused vodka Bloody Mary Lou Retton, to the citrusy Bloody Mary Tyler Moore, to the tequila-splashed Bloody Mary Montez. We love them all. // 500 Castro St. (Castro), harveyssf.com.
One of the prettiest, zestiest bloodies in town.
(Courtesy of Drunken Tomato)
The Persian Bloody Mary makes it clear from the get-go that you won't find a generic tomato and nondescript spice mix stocked at this gorgeous Mission favorite. A touch of sherry vinegar and curry to the base, plus a sumac-coated rim, makes this one of the most unique and universally beloved Bloody Marys, heck cocktails period, in town. // 2534 Mission St. (Mission), foreigncinema.com.
The Bloody Mary at this ultra fun and relaxed Cole Valley bar is so good, it won the best traditional Bloody Mary at SF's Bloody Mary Festival twice in recent years. Its "house-made secret" ingredients include Marz vodka, horseradish, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and Sacramento tomato juice. // 937 Cole St. (Cole Valley), finneganssf.com.
When a restaurant/bar sells its own Bloody Mary mix, then that's saying something. SF's legendary Ocean Beach tourist favorite that actually isn't a tourist trap certainly rocks the bloody game with a recipe that includes horseradish, clam juice, and a "secret blend of spices." Ocean views don't come with the bottled version. // 1090 Point Lobos (Sea Cliff), cliffhouse.com
Take matters into your own hands with Elixir's notorious DIY Bloody Mary bar, and choose between three kinds of juice, 17 hot sauces, numerous spices and peppers, and all the essential vegetable fixings. Play mad scientist with the wide array of ingredients, or keep it classic and pair your half-full pint glass of vodka with Clamato and celery. // 3200 16th St. (Upper Market), elixirsf.com.
Many say that a Bloody Mary is like a meal. This is definitely true of the Ultimate Bloody Mary at Waterbar. The mighty drink includes Ketel One vodka, gulf prawns, a house-made spice blend, and smoked bacon. It makes you want to ask, what about oysters in the garnish too?? // 399 Embarcadero (FiDi) , waterbarsf.com.
With good spice and a hefty pour of vodka, the photogenic Mission Bay-Dogpatch waterfront favorite is the perfect place to alternate between bites of celery and sipping a vintage-style Bloody Mary, all while enjoying some of the premier Bay views anywhere. Don't just go for a Giants tailgate. Any morning/afternoon is a grand time to visit the funky, 50s-era bait shop turned locals' bar. // 855 Terry A Francois Blvd. (Dogpatch), theramprestaurant.com
(Courtesy of Shelley B., via Yelp)
The Sriracha Bloody Mary at the Mission dive does indeed sport quite a quick—and quite a flourish above the drink with olives, a cheese cube, pickled asparagus, and salami slices. Antipasti brunch and cocktail together? Count us in. // 496 14th St. (Mission), Facebook.
Brunch at Tank 18 isn't complete without one the three creative bloodies.
Sure, the SoMa restaurant-slash-event-space is also an urban winery...but that's not red wine sneaking into their three Bloody Mary versions. The Classic has stewed Italian tomatoes conjuring up images of a delightful marinara; Verduras Verde gets a hit of mezcal, tomatillo, roasted pasilla, and avocado; and the Miso Mary adds kimchi liqueur and kombu to tomato and miso-infused vodka. // 1345 Howard St. (SoMa), tank18.com
St. Regis Lobby Bar
The Red Snapper at St. Regis St.
Quick: where was the Bloody Mary invented? Some say Harry's in Paris, others say it was some random American comedian...and the St. Regis in New York says they invented a Bloody Mary, albeit theirs is called the Red Snapper. You can get that at St. Regis locations worldwide, where the tomato mix and Belvedere vodka is a lot less expensive than staying in a room at least. There are other options as well to explore, like the Golden Gate Mary—with tequila and chili-infused tomato water, it's meant to evoke a sunset with the red-orange color scheme. // 125 3rd St. (SoMa), grillsf.com
This article has been updated for February 2019.