The origin of the Bloody Mary is uncertain, perhaps much like your memory of last night. What is known is that the perfect Bloody Mary is a difficult operation: a balance of sweet, savoury, chilli and salt must be reached in order to restore full health. Once achieved, the cocktail’s remedial powers are guaranteed.

However, there’s more to explore here. How much bush is too much bush? Can Bloody Marys actually be green instead of red? Should clam juice ever be consumed before noon? For that matter, does it belong in a cocktail at all?

Quit wincing and take a sip of one of these – they’re guaranteed to get you back on track.

The Sweetwater Inn

This is more than a Bloody Mary. It’s a Kevin Bloody Bacon, and it’s a case of “the more the merrier” meets “why the hell not”. If the bacon, beetroot and chilli-infused vodka isn’t enough to get you to where you need to be, a sword-like skewer impaling a fried bacon strip, a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese, two stuffed olives, half a pickle and a cocktail onion covers the remaining food groups. “We’re trying to put all of the things in there that’ll make you feel like you didn’t ruin your body the night before … by ruining it further,” says co-owner Mark Catsburg. Sweetwater Inn’s commitment to your vitality is extremely appreciated, as is the chilli, sea-salted rim. (Note: a vegan option is also available).

$18
60 Bray Street, South Yarra
0487 916082
sweetwaterinn.com.au

Smith & Daughters

The Bloody Frida is not your average Sunday morning pick-me-up. This vegan restaurant has taken the traditional tomato blend and harvested the rest of the veggie patch to create one garden explosion. Strong flavours of garlic, dill and jalapeno combined with cucumber and celery juice squeezed upon ordering creates the ultimate difference. “Because we use the freshest ingredients, it varies in colour, so sometimes it’s green which is really cool,” says co-owner Mo Wyse. The Bloody Frida could be the closest thing you’ll find to an alcoholic cleanse.

$16
175 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9939 3293
smithanddaughters.com

The Beaufort

“We use an in-house spice mix, which is secret, and that’s all I'm telling you,” says Julian Brown, head bartender at The Beaufort. A smoked tomato juice is used with a blend of dry spices and Tabasco. The result is something a little sweet and sour, served to you in a glass boot. “If anyone shakes a Bloody Mary I would pretty much send it back or politely not drink it. It’s a very delicate drink and it should never be shaken, but it certainly needs to be chilled to make sure that it’s banging.”

$14
421 Rathdowne Street, Carlton
(03) 9347 8171
thebeaufort.com.au

Stagger Lee’s

Stagger Lee’s has recently changed its recipe for its Bucket of Blood – previously it involved a dash of vegemite syrup. Now, you may be devastated or extremely pleased to learn, this brunch expert is getting back to basics and has instead incorporated more tomato, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and a good glug of Sriracha heat. Co-owner Monica Chhay says, “Most people drink it when they’re super hungover or they’re just trying to get back on it, so it needs to be well balanced and mask the actual vodka taste as well as being meaty and delicious.”

$13.50
276 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
(03) 9419 5564
staggerlees.com.au

Le Bon Ton

Collingwood’s Le Bon Ton Bloody Mary is a holy trinity of smoked tomatoes, blended celery and charred green capsicum. Spiced to your liking and fixed with a simple skewer of house-pickled vegetables, Le Bon Ton cares more about bold flavours then the flora. “At the end of the day it is just a drink, which needs to be drunk and it is quite often consumed when there is a great need for it,” says bar manager Evan Stanley. “You don’t want to be messing about too much with a forest on top of it.”

$18
51 Gipps Street, Collingwood
(03) 9416 4341
lebonton.com.au

Borsch, Vodka & Tears

“A venue with a license that does breakfast definitely needs a Bloody Mary on the menu.” When searching for the traditional Bloody Mary, it’s hard to look past this Windsor veteran and vodka expert and its infamous execution of the traditional blood pumper. “It’s absolutely the best possible hangover cure,” says James Davies, day manager at Borsch, Vodka & Tears. Davies says fresh ingredients are crucial, but it’s its house-made garlic and chilli-infused vodka that is the real game changer. Fixed with all the frills: stuffed olives, cucumber, celery and lemon, it’s “definitely well-garnished, some would say over-garnished.”

$14
173 Chapel Street, Windsor
(03) 9530 2694
borschvodkaandtears.com

Republica

Heavy doses of horseradish and wholegrain mustard mixed with finely crushed tomatoes – which are then left to infuse overnight – make this one punchy, chunky Bloody Mary (the good kind of chunk). “We use pretty standard elements, but I think the fact they infuse for a period of hours, or ideally a day or two, is pretty cool. And it really lets the flavours gel together,” says venue manager Rupert Coffey. “On the breakfast menu [the BM] stands out by itself really, it’s a meal in a glass. So, if you’re hungover, it’s an easy thing to digest.” St Kilda’s fresh sea air also helps.

$17.50
St Kilda Sea Baths, 10–18 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda
(03) 8598 9055
republica.net.au

Friends of Mine

This refreshing remedy in Richmond balances a double shot of cucumber-infused vodka, fresh cucumber and celery juice, a decent squeeze of lemon juice and a chilli kick. “Lots of chilli, you can’t have a Bloody Mary without chilli,” says bar manager Lucy Brownlie, who also reckons it’s all about the mix inside the Mason jar, not the decorations. “No cheeseburgers or hotdogs, or any of that crap that goes on top. It just needs to be nice and simple so that it’s easy to drink and so you can see who you’re sitting in front of.”

$13
506 Swan Street, Richmond
(03) 9428 7516
friendsofmine.com.au

Joe Taylor

The menu at this North Melbourne bar includes nine different renditions of the BM including the Bloody Caesar, which uses the Canadian concoction Clamato (key ingredient: clam juice). The traditional Mary, however, combines pickled-spiced tomato juice with a reduction of red wine, dry herbs, sugar and salt. “There’s nothing worse than getting a Bloody Mary with not enough salt,” says manager Daniel Mason. “It works a treat, you get your saltiness, you get your vitamins from the tomato juice, you’ve got the booze to get you back on the train – perfection.”

$15 ($12 on Sundays)
7 Errol Street, North Melbourne
0405 032 942
joetaylor.com.au