While we’ve established that hair of the dog isn’t really a legitimate hangover cure, that doesn’t mean indulging in a strong Bloody Mary won’t make you feel better. Though vodka has long been disparaged by the craft cocktail world, the Bloody Mary is unimaginable without it. Comprised of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, lemon juice, Tabasco, tomato juice, and, of course, vodka, the Bloody Mary is the quintessential “I’m hungover, now get me more booze” tippler. If you had a decent-to-awesome Memorial Day weekend, chances are you’re craving one right now. Like any other cocktail, the greatness of a Bloody Mary depends on the skills of the bartender creating it, and the quality of the ingredients within (we suggest adding some delicious candied bacon to your bloody). Don’t use “meh” vodka to nurse your hangover back to drunkenness. Instead, reach for one of these well-made, tasty (yes, tasty) choices.
Ah, Iceland, homeland to Bjork, vikings, skyr – oh, and Reyka Vodka. This vodka has crisp vanilla sweetness that gives way to a touch of spice and earthiness, which makes it both contrast and complement the pepper-packed Bloody Mary. The viscous texture also does well with the soupy tomato juice. As a perk, Reyka is made from arctic spring water and filtered through lava rocks, which just sounds cool. Oh, and it’s environmentally friendly.
No, that’s not a typo. When this vodka first launched, people hated it because it made your palate literally tingle (there was some sort of patented technology). However, the recipe was redone and now the juice is great. AnestasiA has relaunched as a traditional corn vodka in a wacky bottle. The sweet corn makes an excellent vodka base: we get a tres leches milky sweetness measured with mineral qualities.
3. Snow Leopard
Who wouldn’t want to sip a Bloody while saving snow leopards? 15% of the profits from Snow Leopard Vodka go to conserving the wild cats. So while you’re hungover, you can feel good about the world while woefully mixing this spelt-based vodka with tomato juice. Snow Leopard has a good bit of lemon flavor in there, lending a nice citrus tart quality to your Bloody Mary. You’ll also get some anise in this Polish spirit. Save the cats. Drink your Bloody.
4. Chopin BEST OVERALL
Chopin vodka shows you how a cheap ingredient can turn out to be classy. This stunning vodka is creamy, a little sweet, and, despite being good on its own, has a huge range of mixability. The finish doesn’t sit forever, but it’s pleasant and assertive – perfect for the brash flavor of the Bloody Mary. This isn’t a vodka that’s entirely silky: you will get a little roughness, but that really shows the genuine Eastern European heritage of the vodka. Chopin isn’t meant to be forgotten – it’s a vodka you’ll contemplate and want to drink again.
Belvedere is a big brand vodka that’s enjoyable in a straightforward way. The typical “good” flavors that you want in a high-quality vodka, like vanilla and butterscotch, are boldly present. This is a vodka that you’ll likely see in any bar, from swanky cocktail lounge to grungy dive, and for good reason. It’s flexible. It’s solidly good. It’s in every liquor store. If you really need to mix up your Bloody before your next shift, Belvedere is the vodka you don’t have to think twice about.
6. Van Gogh
You know that one cousin who’s super endearing and lovely? Van Gogh is the vodka version of her. If you get vodka face (you know, the grimace after a shot), then try Van Gogh and forget everything you knew about being a vodka hater. Van Gogh specializes in flavored vodkas, which is perhaps what accounts for their standard vodka being acceptable to drink neat. If you’re not in the mood to taste a whole lot of liquor in your Bloody, Van Gogh is the way to… go.
7. Russian Standard BEST ON A BUDGET
At around $20 a bottle, Russian Standard is a nice affordable vodka to booze up your Bloody. You’ll get plenty of spice, a little grainy grit, and some oiliness. This is not a shlocky weak spirit – after all, it’s a best-selling product in Russia, and we’ve heard they’re pretty serious about their vodka. If you want to combat your hangover with a true Russian Bloody, Russian Standard makes a great choice. Disclaimer: you might end up with a much worse hangover.
This craft vodka is made at a self-proclaimed “experimental” Industry City Distillery in Brooklyn. They design and build their own equipment – which is no easy feat – and the vodka that comes out of it is pretty cool. Made from sugar beets, Industry Standard has a fresh-from-the-ground taste. You’ll get vegetal sugar and soil on the palate, and a nice thick body to keep those tastes hanging out in your mouth for awhile. The sugar beet sweetness is very well-suited for a Bloody. You’ll feel satisfied after one sip, but that won’t stop you from drinking more.
9. Death’s Door
Like Death’s Door gin, this vodka is so simple, yet so delicious. Death’s Door doesn’t try to get fancy, and thank goodness for that. Everyone needs to try this class act vodka, which is made from double distilled wheat. See – a thousand rounds of distillation doesn’t actually mean anything, two is just fine. While we understand the need to be showy (it’s hard to stand out in the vodka market!), Death Door’s white-sugar taste and smooth finish show that sometimes, less really is more. Like Van Gogh, we recommend this vodka in a Bloody that’s more subtle on the boozy taste.
10. Aylesbury Duck
Like it’s brother, Tequila Cabeza, Aylesbury is meant to be mixed. Available in a liter size, we’d recommend keeping this at home or in the office for quick cocktails. Aylesbury Duck is to the point, so you will taste alcohol, amongst some peppery notes and bits of fruit. Don’t hold out for butterscotch and vanilla, because that’s not really where this vodka is at. In fact, it’s a world away from Belvedere. However, if you’re looking to emphasize the greener, more herbaceous tastes of your Bloody, this is a fantastic choice.