Most of us would agree that no two Bloody Marys are created equal, but we all rejoice when we discover a good one. Herewith: A glimpse into my relationship with this time-tested classic cocktail and how I came to love it.
Text by David C. Cleland | June 20, 2018 | Lifestyle

Growing up, the coolest thing someone could drink (at least in my mind) was a Bloody Mary. Forget Martinis, Manhattans, even straight whiskey…for me you weren’t an adult until you had that spicy potent cocktail with its forest of celery sticking up over the rim with a plate of eggs and bacon and a side of Marlboros. I guess it comes from the fact that the Bloody Mary represented all the things that were grown-up in my mind.
But what really sold me on Bloodies was my Aunt Sharon. Every kid growing up has that one family member who was just so much cooler than the rest, who would let you get away with things, who listened to cool music, and who treated you almost like an adult. Aunt Sharon was all that and much more. So when I first saw her order that extra spicy Bloody Mary when we were vacationing on Hilton Head Island, I knew right then and there that no drink would ever compare.
With all the pressure for me to like this revered drink, I didn’t end up trying one until I was in my mid 20s, and it was a disaster. I hated it. It was bland, it was yucky. I felt like a kid again. What was even worse was that I resigned myself to never being as cool as Aunt Sharon.
But last year something changed. At my local watering hole, I was bullied into trying a friend’s Bloody Mary after what had been a very long night. Grudgingly, (I didn’t want to be reminded of how uncool I was), I took a sip, and I was transported. It was like waking up and realizing you had turned into Robert Redford or Dean Martin. I was instantly cool.
What followed was an obsession. As I scoured every bar for the perfect mix, I discovered not only some of my favorites in the area but also a few guidelines. First of all, every bartender thinks they make the best, but they don’t. Some of the tastiest I’ve found in town are at Green Street Café in The Grove, The Abbey in Miami Beach (Stephanie’s version), Edge Steak & Bar in Brickell and The Rusty Pelican on Key Biscayne. Always order it extra spicy. Skip the gazpacho at dinner and have a Bloody instead, it’s the perfect first course. But don’t worry; if you don’t like Bloody Marys, you can still be cool, just not as cool as me.