London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

The best Bloody Mary in London?

I have recently become obsessed with finding the best Bloody Mary in London.
This obsession started after my visit to Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair last summer. Their Bloody Mary is expensive (around £15) but is absolutely delicious. It is vegetarian friendly too as they make their own spice mixture and don’t use the non-vegetarian Worcestershire sauce which many pubs and bars do. It is spicy but not overbearing and it really is a meal in itself. Coupled with the complimentary snacks that you get in Brown’s Hotel which are frequently replenished it can stave off hunger pangs for an hour or two!

I recently went on Pete Berthoud’s “ultimate pub crawl” which started in Donovan’s Bar at Brown’s so I had to order my favourite. It was as good as on my previous visit although I had the quandary of what to do with the individual peppercorns that were balanced on the stick of celery above the glass which I hadn’t seen before. Those of us that had Bloody Marys wondered what the etiquette was. We all decided to tip the peppercorns into our drink and hoped it wouldn’t affect the taste too much. This was a good idea until we reached the bottom of the glass and started sucking up whole peppercorns through the straw so there was then the dilemma of taking them individually out of our mouths! Thankfully we were sitting in the “naughty corner” (an area slightly offset from the bar decorated with some of Terence Donovan’s more risqué photos) so were slightly hidden from view.

A couple of hours later the last stop on our “crawl” was the American Bar of the Savoy Hotel and it was the first time I had ever been in there. Slightly inebriated with a piano tinkling in the background this was the ultimate in bars. I decided to order a Bloody Mary to compare with Brown’s which I had anticipated to be more or less the same. Unfortunately it wasn’t. It was lacking in spice and thickness not helped by an enormous block of ice in the drink.
Does anyone have suggestions of places in Central London that serve the best Bloody Mary preferably cheaper than Brown’s.  However I am now completely spoiled and prefer ones made with individual spices rather than the usual Worcestershire sauce. Maybe a recipe to make my own would be cheaper – ideas welcome!

13 Responses to The best Bloody Mary in London?

  • Over ten years ago I used to go for a regular Bloody Mary in the top floor bar at Waterstones in Piccadilly on Sunday lunchtimes. This was in the days of my then failing long term relationship and we would muse on the service we had just attended in St Georges, Hanover Square and I would look over the rooftops of Mayfair and savour the perfect perfect blend of vodka and tomato with seasoning. They used a mix that was based on celery salt and I recall many happy experiments at home to recreate it. However it is all about the ritual. The time. The place. The expectation. That bar has changed hands many times and I no longer crave a Bloody Mary on a Sunday.

  • On Sunday, I had a superb example of a Bloody Mary in the unlikely setting of The Townhouse in Clerkenwell. I am afraid that I can't tell you how much it was.

  • Thanks Graham. I will put that hotel on my "to visit" list.

  • I too, have a Bloody Mary habit, although through extensive testing I have come to discover that you'll find a better version in a really well run pub than at a fancy cocktail bar.
    To that end, could I strongly recommend that – if you're in the area- you swing by a small pub called the Seven Stars just off Lincolns Inn Fields. They appear to mix the drink from two mysterious unlabelled bottles, and whatever is in them it ends up making a drink that's one of the best I've tasted.
    ..try the house Martini there too, you won't regret it. Enjoy!

  • Thanks for the tip. I love the Seven Stars. It's included in my Top Ten London Pubs list – I have only ever been there on a weekday lunchtime so have never noticed that they serve Bloody Marys but maybe next time I visit I will try one. After a bad experience with Martinis last year (my first time drinking them) it is unlikely I will try one again!

  • When I was Head Concierge at a five star hotel in London (many moons ago) , I would recommend the drink at a small pub in Belgravia called the Grenadier, though I never tried it myself, everyone that I sent their gave it rave reviews.

  • Thanks Laocook. I have tried the BM at the Grenadier but it didn't quite live up to my best one at Brown's. The pub features on my Hidden Pubs of Belgravia walk which I'm doing tomorrow so I may very well give it another chance!

  • Thanks for the tip, Joanna. I’ll keep Brown’s Hotel in mind the next time I visit London. I was able to experience drinking in The Mayflower near Rotherhithe Station. It was an awesome experience, but it was very pricey.

    Rachell Mckitrick

  • Hi Rachell, thanks for your tip about the Mayflower! That's on my "should have visited but haven't" list of pubs in London. I love Rotherhithe though. I volunteered at the Brunel Museum for Open House last year and wrote a blog post about the area. Re-reading the comments just now it looks like the Angel pub is a better bet which I also haven't yet been to!

  • I have never tried a Bloody Mary (pauses for gasps) and it was one of my new years resolutions to try one this year! 27th November and nope, still not done it! I stumbled on your blog by Googling "where's the best place in London for a Bloody Mary" so thank you Joanna I will go to Browns! xx

  • Hi Cath, I'm so pleased your Google search came to my page and thanks for posting. I hope you enjoy the experience!

  • The Gilbert Scott bar at the St Pancras Ren do a great Bloody Mary!

  • Thanks for the tip Shelley!