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!

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