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Bloody Good Bloody Mary

The search for the best in red

by and

On the surface, the bloody mary seems simple: tomato juice and vodka. But in reality, it is a complex expression of culinary philosophy. Should it be tasteful and to the point? Should it be overflowing with gaudy garnishes? Should it scald your tongue with heat? Should the drink be vegetarian? Every bar has its own take, and here's the scoop on some of Boise's best interpretations.

Bacon

Proving its ability to stick to a theme, the Bakon Bloody Mary at Bacon is soused with Bakon vodka and served in a glass rimmed with delicious salted bacon dust. But you better be hungry if you order this drink. Not only does it come in a big effin' glass, and with thick pulpy tomato juice, it has a slab of—what else?—bacon piled on top.

Bardenay

Start with house-made vodka, add tomato juice, a slew of spices, celery and asparagus, then serve it up in a short glass and you've got Bardenay's bloody standard. Feeling adventurous? Opt for a basil-infused, Clamato-laden, tequila-based or super-spicy variety. This always-packed hangout spot has six varieties of marys to choose from, which will provide a cure for any type of hangover.

Busters Grill and Bar

This drink is not very flashy in the accessories department, but it's strong and spicy, with thick ground pepper and a bite of vodka. So stinging is this bloody mary, it is almost to the point of being astringent, which is great for the bloody mary's No. 1 purpose: getting you back on track come Sunday morning. And even better, on said Sunday morning this sucka is only $2.75.

Flatbread Community Oven

A skyscraper of a celery stalk protrudes from a salad-worth of arugula in Flatbread Community Oven's Zesty Bloody Mary. Tomatoes and a thick slice of bacon atop bacon-infused vodka take this concoction from morning drink to near-meal status, but according to the staff, it's really the mix that makes this mary a winner. Don't worry non-carnivores, the veg variety is also delish.

Fork

Don't be frightened by the sea-creature-like thing sitting next to the pickles and lemon wedge near the edge of the glass on Fork's Market Bloody Mary. The fried blue cheese olive is one of the most unique accoutrements found on a cocktail, and garners inquisitive looks. But it's also crunchy, tangy, downright delicious and reason enough to order a bloody.

Gamekeeper Lounge

If you like to make your own Bloody Mary, but don't much cotton to all the hippies in Hyde Park, you're in luck. The 1970s Las Vegas gloom of the Gamekeeper Lounge rocks a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., as well as one made by the bartender with a thick house-made mix, heavy with Worcestershire sauce tang and just a hint of black pepper.

Jakers Grill

The first thing you will notice about a bloody mary from Jakers is that it is a meat beverage, with a large prawn hanging on the glass's rim next to a large celery stalk. But when you take a drink, you notice its smooth and velvety texture with strong flavors of lime and thick tomato juice. It focuses on the classic roots of the drink and delivers exactly the sort of bloody mary your grandparents drank in steakhouses of the 1970s.

Parrilla Grill

Idahoans are self-reliant, so much so that, occasionally, they go to a bar to make their own drinks. Case in point: Parrilla's $3 build-your-own Bloody Mary Bar. What will it be? Vodka with pickles and A1 sauce or 18 different kinds of salt with a drop of tomato juice for color? (Page 51)

Red Feather Lounge

This may be the single cocktail made at Red Feather that eschews class for a sense of whimsy. It comes dressed up in beans, red peppers, lemons, olives, cucumbers and pickles made into a bizarre smiley face. Held together with toothpicks, it functions like a protective cage that must be removed to reach the liquid part of the drink, which is in the manner of the heirloom tomato, boasts a bright tangy flavor, which is then followed by a wave of cracked black pepper.