Seeing red

Reno’s best Bloody Marys

A good Bloody Mary can be hard to find.

A good Bloody Mary can be hard to find.

A Bloody Mary is a fairly simple idea. Just mix tomato juice and vodka, and throw in some spices. One would think that ordering it at any bar would yield a similar drink, but finding Reno’s best Bloody Mary took days of sitting in barstools and talking to patrons and bartenders who have a passion for the drink.

Before getting started, let’s lay down some ground rules: A Bloody Mary is not a nighttime drink. It’s meant to be enjoyed in the early morning or late afternoon, perhaps for brunch. It is a type of meal in itself, and when properly constructed, it will go down easy to balance and nourish the body after a harsh night out. It will also have enough spicy kick to give the drinker fire for the rest of the day. Second,

garnish is everything. At one bar, I was served a Bloody Mary, and the glass was stuffed with big chunks of lime and lemon. Simply disgusting. Garnishes should always include a fresh celery stalk and large stuffed olives, but others, such as pickled vegetables and various meats, are also welcome.

Hands down, the best Bloody Mary was served at the Center Court Grill at Lakeridge Tennis Club, where the restaurant is open to the public. The base for this Bloody Mary is Zing Zang Bloody Mary mix.

If you are thinking that using a mix is selling out, then you probably haven’t tried Zing Zang. It has all of the Bloody Mary standards, like Tabasco, Worcestershire, spices, tomato juice and puree. One bartender said he couldn’t find anything to add to the mix to make it better. (And when checking Ben’s Liquor, it was the only mix sold out.) Next, Gera, a Lithuanian vodka, and ice are added, and the drink is firmly shaken. The garnishes, however, are what make this Bloody Mary truly spectacular. The rim is coated with a nice layer of celery salt and adorned with a small lime section. Thick wooden skewers hold two large stuffed olives and pieces of chilled celery for easy access. Best of all, propped up on the edge of the glass is a jumbo shrimp with a dollop of cocktail sauce on it. The drink costs $6, a great deal for what you get and the environment in which it’s served.

The second best Bloody Mary is at the Stone House Cafe. Stone House offers two specialty Bloody Marys. The one tested is called the Bloody Bull and, accordingly, adds beef bullion to the mix. The other one adds wasabi instead of the standard horseradish. Both of the specialty drinks use Ketel One Citroen vodka, but with hindsight, that vodka didn’t add anything special to the drink except for a bump in price and a faint lemon taste. So stick to the basic Bloody Marys. They are made from the same homemade base of A1 steak sauce, Worcestershire, salt, celery salt and pepper. Instead of Tabasco sauce, the bartender at the time, Kat, used Tapatio sauce because of its less vinegary flavor. One of the bonuses about Stone House is that fresh celery and horseradish are always on hand. The Bloody Bull ($7) is served in a hurricane glass, and the celery stalk is tall and leafy. It’s also garnished with a pimento-stuffed olive and a small lime section.

So next time you are hurting after a long night out and don’t feel like much of a breakfast, put on some dark glasses and head out to one of these havens for a Bloody Mary made to perfection. It will get you right for the rest of your day.