No other alcoholic drink is as controversial as the Bloody Mary. Ask anyone, and they’ll either twist their face in disgust, or instantly strike up a craving. In the fall we gave you a definitive ranking of Corvallis’ fish tacos, now we’re giving you a ranking of the town’s best Bloody Marys, just in time for brunch season. While this list is not exhaustive, it will get you started on the hunt for your favorite rendition. Each of these costs around $7, with the exception of The Queen, but you’ll see why. Disclaimer: I favor the ones with a little extra (okay, maybe a lot of extra) spice. Because why would I eat my vegetables plain?
American Dream: The Handle Bar
The Handle Bar on Monroe gets the first-place ribbon for its flavor. Toppings go a long way, but you can’t win it all without the right cocktail. Bartender Henry Winowiecki gets it. His Bloody Mary has a full-bodied smoked flavor, giving it the perfect amount of spice. Served at a pizza establishment, it fits to top it with a couple slices of pepperoni and smoked gouda, but the broccoli, bell pepper, and green olives are more reminiscent of the traditional Bloody. Pair it with a slice or two, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Sky High Brewery and Pub: The Queen Mary
But even if a Bloody Mary doesn’t get the mix right, toppings can often be its savior, and The Queen Mary at Sky High is famous for it. A whopping $10.50, The Queen is a meal in itself, bursting with more fixings than you could find on a meat and cheese platter. Five shrimp, one stick of beef jerky, half a smoked sausage, olives, bell peppers, jicama, a celery stick, picked asparagus and green beans, plus a full stick of string cheese are loaded into this pint glass. But despite all that, the mix itself is subpar and relatively bland; luckily the toppings will last you the full drink. They’ve got a vegetarian version of their Bloody, too, if you’re so inclined, with all of the above minus the animal.
Les Caves: Spicy McLain and the Capsaicin
Go to Caves for brunch and you’re in for a Bloody Mary treat. Forget the delicious Irish cream doughnuts and savory scrambles—Caves serves up three kinds of Marys, including the waitstaff- and customer-esteemed Spicy McLain, their medium heat Mary, made with habanero, garlic, and basil. For an extra kick, level up to the Capsaicin, made with (rotating) pepper-infused Slap Tail vodka. Each are served with skewered pickled asparagus, green beans, and a red pepper.
Broken Yolk Cafe
The only breakfast place on this list stays true to itself by serving your Bloody with none other than a fat piece of skewered bacon. Taken down a notch by its pickled spring onions and pepperoncini as complements, Broken Yolk’s rendition falls right in the middle of the rankings. It does have a kick, though, likely from tabasco peppers or Tapatio.
McMenamin’s on 3rd Street
If you like garlic, this is the Bloody for you. McMenamin’s has a house-made mix that tugs more sweet than spicy. It’s not generic, but for someone who leans towards spicy things, this is not your best bet. (Hint: Ask for the Secret Aardvark Habanero Sauce they’ve got lying around.) As for toppings, the standard serving is simply two green olives.
Downtown Downward Dog
This Bloody gets last place not because it’s deficient, but because it’s standard. The Downward Dog serves as your baseline, as it’s quite literally a shot of well vodka and a can of Campbell’s Bloody Mix, topped with two green olives. No spice, no kick, no effort to go above and beyond. But let’s be honest, who wants to step up to the plate when you’re up against Henry and The Queen Mary?
By Regina Pieracci