A well-made Bloody Mary is a thing of beauty. There’s something magical about the concoction of tomato juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce, celery salt and horseradish—an umami bomb to jump-start your very best weekends. Some days you crave one, and after an overly indulgent evening, you might finding yourself feeling like you need one. And while you’re going all in on the garnish (Pickled okra! Steamed shrimp! Candied bacon!), don’t make the vodka an afterthought. The beloved brunch beverage deserves more.
You might think, with so many full-flavored ingredients, does the vodka really matter here? The answer is: Yes! And using a flavored vodka, especially, can bring a whole new dimension to the drink. Add one of these spicy spirits to your favorite brunch tradition for a guaranteed Sunday Funday.
The Bay Seasoned ($25)
If you could bottle the vibe and flavors of a Chesapeake crab boil, complete with a newspaper-covered picnic table next to the water, wooden mallets, claw crackers and a bushel of plump colossal #1 males coated in the mid-Atlantic’s signature seasoning, you’d have this vodka from Philadelphia Distilling. Distilled four times, the smooth and savory spirit has sea salt and notes of celery seed, black and red pepper, nutmeg, cardamom and other secret spices.
“To me, Bloody Marys are all about the day after a big night out: brunching, chilling with friends and family, and let’s face it, sometimes battling a hangover,” says founder Andrew Auwerda. “In all cases, I crave salt and spice in my hair of the dog.”
Breckenridge Chili Chile ($30)
This Colorado vodka from the self-proclaimed world’s highest distillery is a spirit so nice they named it twice. It starts with the brand’s signature vodka, which has a light body, soft, warm texture and hint of sweetness along with minerality from the local water that’s used for blending and proofing. It all heats up as the liquid is infused with both Colorado-grown Pueblo chipotle chiles and Indian Marash chiles. The endgame is one smoky, earthy sip.
Referent Horseradish ($26)
For some brunchers, a big dollop of horseradish, with its sinus-opening burn, is more crucial to a well-made Bloody Mary than a generous helping of hot sauce. This vodka distilled in small batches and infused at 45th Parallel distillery in New Richmond, Wisconsin, with locally grown root speaks to those imbibers. Not only is it a delicious way to enhance your eye-opener, but horseradish is said to improve the common cold, relieve a stomach ache and, yes, render the morning after not so painful.
Sonoma Coast Jalapeño Lime ($28)
Add a little zest to your Bloody with this spirit that hails from a small family-owned craft distillery in Petaluma, California. It specializes in fun vodka flavors like rosé and citrus basil. For this product, vodka is distilled six times then infused with jalapeños, bell peppers, habaneros and lime. “It gives more depth to a Bloody Mary,” says founder Jill Olson. It also makes a kick-ass Vodka Gimlet if you want to switch from day to evening drinking.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
St. George Green Chile ($28)
To make the vodka world’s version of salsa verde, the San Francisco Bay Area’s St. George Spirits fills its stills with crushed California-grown jalapeño peppers, lime peel and a non-GMO spirit. It’s distilled through a vapor-infusion basket filled with fresh cilantro, then infused with red and yellow bell peppers for freshness, as well as serranos and habaneros. “The result is beautifully balanced and nuanced, with just a touch of heat,” says master distiller Lance Winters. “It amplifies and complements the flavors of all the other ingredients and creates an especially savory and layered Bloody Mary.”