A celery stalk and celery salt. Pepper. Olives. Lemons, limes, or both. Bacon — either crispy, candied, or peppered. Shrimp. Chicken tenders. Hamburgers. Pepperoni sticks. Asparagus. Waffles.

It seems that almost anything can garnish a bloody mary these days. But is there a right or wrong way to make one? Can a bartender go too far?

I wasn’t sure, so I set out for a weeks-long taste test with my wife (safety first) and we traveled around Forsyth County, keeping an eye glued to menus that might feature the tangy morning cocktail.

Our first drink was from Old Nick’s Pub in Lewisville. I wish the glass was bigger but the flavors were spot on. The squeezed lime wedge in the glass made the bloody mary very bright and refreshing; an added touch was the fresh ground pepper sprinkled on the top. The drink was garnished with four olives on a skewer. But where was the celery? Rated No. 3.

Next we headed downtown to Sixth and Vine. Once again, I like a big glass. All together, the drink was a little light on the vodka and spice but heavy on the Clamato. (That’s called a bloody caesar. Did you know the bloody caesar was invented in 1969 in Canada?) It was garnished with a lemon, a lime, and an olive. Once again, where was the celery stirrer? Rated No. 6.

We then hit Social Restaurant on Robinhood Road. I can go on and on how superb the food and service was; a must-try for anyone who hasn’t been there before. But the bloody mary was a combination of tomato juice with a cloying sweetness and spice that was unidentifiable. It was also very thick. The drink had the celery, two 1-inch pieces surrounding an olive. Rated No. 7.

On a Sunday afternoon after two o’clock, we strolled downtown onto Trade Street and landed at Silver Moon. This place has a nice outdoor patio off the side and the bloody mary was in the right size glass — a full pint. The flavor of their bloody mary mix is right on the mark. I was told they use some orange juice in the mix along with lemon and lime. The proportions of heat to tomato juice were correct. They also had a whole celery stick (that was a first) surrounded by different cheeses, pickles, peppers, fruit, and a mini waffle. Rated No. 2.

Our next stop was Full Moon Oyster Bar. Now, their bartender, Angela, can make a bloody mary. They use an altered drink mix using Zing Zang and she added olive juice, Texas Pete, and a dash of their own homemade hot sauce. Old Bay seasoning rimmed the pint-size glass accompanied with lemon and lime wedges. Rated No. 1.

Then we hit downtown again and paid a visit to Canteen Market & Bistro. We enjoyed some fish and chips and soft shell crab that paired well with the bloody mary we drank. It was simply a bloody mary, with medium heat, that got the job done. Rated No. 5.

Our final stop was The Trophy Room. No matter how often you go, the staff is always welcoming and they’re a real class act when it comes to making craft cocktails. The bloody mary is made using a mix created by a local winemaker who’s been doing it for years. It’s thick like a marinara sauce and has slight heat. I asked for a little more spice and they added smoked chipotle. All I was missing now was shrimp — it would have made a great shrimp cocktail. The proportion of vodka was spot on with a little after burn. Rated No. 4.

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