There are people who passively drink Bloody Marys at brunch every now and then because they like the idea of a Bloody Mary. Then, there are people who actually LIKE Bloody Marys. These are the people who are forever chasing the dragon of a good bloody mary because true Bloody Mary afficionados know that there are SO many things that can go wrong when someone makes a Bloody Mary.
1. How it's served. Most people will do the right thing and give you a Bloody Mary that's made-to-order. But some places serve a Bloody Mary from a ready-made batch that's been hanging out in a pitcher full of ice for 45 minutes—typically seen at all-you-can-drink brunch places. Who wants a watered-down Bloody Mary? Nobody.
2. The mix. Some prefer thin, some prefer thick. Some prefer chunks of horseradish and fresh cracked black pepper, some prefer it smooth and factory-made. Whatever your preference, you're pretty much guaranteed to be disappointed at least half the times you order one because the bartender's preference on mix won't match your own.
3. Spiciness. Same with the mix—some want their Bloody Mary to just have a tiny kick, others want to set their mouths on fire.
4. Acoutrements. As the artisanal cocktail movement has reached its fever pitch, bartenders have been given the freedom to serve you a cocktail with a bunch of bullshit sticking out of it. A Bloody Mary has always been the perfect cocktail for doing just this, because it's probably the heartiest drink you can order outside of a milkshake. But let's cool it, okay? Can I eat a stalk of rosemary? No. A chunk of pepperoni? YOU'RE DISGUSTING. Celery, bro. Stick to the celery.
I think I've belabored the point enough—Bloody Marys are complicated mistresses. That's why you always want to start with a quality base, like what you'll get with Hellfire Club Bloody Mary Mix ($28, Arrowhead Farms). Buy this for yourself, bring it to a friend's BBQ along with a bottle of vodka—it's a party in a bottle.