Brunch just isn’t the same without this Classic Bloody Mary recipe. Learn how to make the absolute best version of this savory cocktail to serve up alongside your favorite breakfast fare.
Whether they’re your go-to hangover cure or just your favorite cocktail for Sunday brunch and game day, the Bloody Mary is an absolute classic.
What is a Bloody Mary?
Known for its place on brunch menus, the Bloody Mary is a savory cocktail that is traditionally made with vodka and tomato juice.
A Bloody Mary is often jazzed up with more flavors like horseradish, lemon juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. You can garnish it with as many fresh and pickled veggies, bacon, shrimp and lemon as you desire. (More ideas below!)
Here’s why people love Bloody Marys:
- The recipe is easy. You can use Bloody Mary mix or mix up your own that’s tailored to your personal tastes.
- The recipe is scalable. Mix up a single drink or make a pitcher to serve to friends.
- The garnishes are fun (and edible). A celery stick is a must. Want to add mini cheeseburgers and lobster tails? Go for it.
The Best Bloody Mary Recipe
Though Bloody Mary mix is readily available in stores, Bloody Marys can easily be made by the glass. If you enjoy a Bloody Mary as a brunch cocktail every weekend, it might make sense for you to keep your favorite ingredients on hand to mix up one at a time.
I prefer to make the original Bloody Mary by the glass if it’s just me, otherwise, I will stock up on or make Bloody Mary mix.
If you’re serving a crowd, you may like purchasing a pre-made mix (this Bloody Mary mix is one of my faves), or you can mix up your own Bloody Mary mix.
My recipe for homemade Bloody Mary mix is a scaled-up version of this classic Bloody Mary recipe, so you can serve it at a party, picnic or tailgate.
Once made, all you need to do is mix it with vodka (or your spirit of choice — more on that in a few minutes), add your garnishes and drink up! To me, the Bloody Mary mix you make yourself is simply the best Bloody Mary mix.
You’ll want to stock up on these basic ingredients so you can whip up the best Bloody Mary recipe any time you please.
Rimming your Bloody Marys with flavorful salt is a great way to impart some extra flavor in every sip. You can make your own Bloody Mary Rim Salt with fine salt, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder (and cayenne pepper, if you like it spicy).
You can also buy pre-mixed Bloody Mary salt to keep on hand if you prefer!
Pour it onto a small plate, and run a lemon wedge around the rim of the glass. Then roll the edge of the glass in the rim salt until coated. Do this before adding any ice!
Tomato juice is the key to the perfect Bloody Mary recipe! It is a tomato cocktail, after all, so don’t skimp here.
Use organic tomato juice if you can, but whatever you do, make sure to pick up on one that is 100% pure juice with no added sugar. You don’t want your bloodies to be sweet!
Clamato juice can be substituted for tomato juice. It’s a mixture of tomato juice, dried clam broth and spices. (Though if you use it, technically you’re making a “Bloody Caesar” cocktail, not a Bloody Mary.)
If you plan to make Bloody Marys often, then you can buy cans of tomato juice to keep on hand in your pantry.
Horseradish, the spicy, pungent condiment often served on prime rib and hot dogs, is made from a root vegetable of the same name in the mustard family.
It comes grated and bottled, or you can make your own prepared horseradish with vinegar and fresh horseradish root. Be careful not to buy “horseradish sauce.” You are looking for pure, ground, prepared horseradish. The addition of horseradish gives a Bloody Mary a spicy bite.
When it comes to mixology, fresh lemon juice is always going to yield the best results. But I will say that the bottled concentrate has saved me more than once, so I always keep it in the fridge.
You might have this flavorful condiment on hand, as Worcestershire sauce is used in tons of dishes like hamburgers, salad dressings and cocktail sauce.
Worcestershire sauce is a fermented, all-purpose sauce made from vinegar and flavored with anchovies, molasses, tamarind, onion, garlic and other seasonings.
Find it at any grocery store, though I have my eye on this bourbon-barrel aged Worcestershire sauce — it would be incredible in a Bloody Mary!
Freshly cracked black pepper will always add the most flavor to your Bloodies, but you can use pre-ground pepper too.
I love to cook with finely-ground sea salt so I always have it on hand, but feel free to substitute kosher salt.
Celery salt, which is salt that’s mixed with ground celery seeds, is often used in soups and meat dishes, but it works well in Bloody Marys too. Since celery is a must-have garnish for Bloody Marys, this salt infuses more celery flavor into your homemade bloody mix.
Hot sauce can be spicy, but don’t let that scare you. You’re only using a few dashes per glass.
As a result, it will dilute and mainly provide peppery flavor. You can skip it or you can add more to taste. Totally up to you.
Tabasco, Tapatio and Texas Pete are common and well-loved choices, so use your favorite.
Vodka is the spirit of choice for a traditional Bloody Mary cocktail, but you can substitute it for tequila, bourbon, gin or even rum to make a host of variations (more on that below).
If you make bloodies often, keep your favorite vodka on hand for mixing. I always recommend using the best vodka you can afford.
My go-to bottles are Absolut, Deep Eddy and Tito’s, but on occasion I will splurge on Reyka or something local. Check out my Vodka 101 guide to help you choose a favorite.
If you like, you can use savory, infused vodka like this hatch chile vodka.
The fun of making Bloody Marys yourself is the chance to make these classic drinks your own. Try adding some of these to the recipe as your own secret ingredient:
- dill pickle juice
- liquid smoke
- soy sauce
- olive brine
My advice is to experiment and find what you like!
Bloody Mary Garnishes
Part of the fun of Bloody Marys is that you can play dress-up with a Bloody Mary!
It’s the best part, to me, and part of what makes this the best Bloody Mary recipe. But that’s just me. You can add tons of edible garnishes, or don’t. Whatever floats your boat!
Here’s a shortlist of ideas for garnishes for the ultimate Bloody Mary:
- spicy salt — for the rims of the glass (or salt with Old Bay Seasoning)
- a classic celery stalk
- pickled cucumbers in any form: dill pickle spear, sliced dill pickles or cornichons (add some of that pickle brine to the cocktail if you like)
- a skewer of pickled vegetables, such as pickled okra, jalapeños, cauliflower, green beans or asparagus
- olives — these Bloody Mary olives are marinated in a savory Bloody Mary brine or you can make blue cheese stuffed olives
- cocktail onions
- bacon — you can bake bacon in large batches ahead of time
- a lemon wedge or lime wedge
- shrimp — this Old Bay steamed shrimp is flavorful and perfect for any BM
- grape or cherry tomatoes
- cheese cubes
And here is a LONG list of Bloody Mary garnish ideas!
My advice is to pick a handful of these options and serve them with bamboo cocktail skewers.
How to Make a Bloody Mary
Here’s how to make a basic Bloody Mary recipe:
Go ahead and rim your glasses with Bloody Mary salt if you’re doing so. Add ice cubes to the glasses.
Add ice to the shaker, then add your vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, celery salt, sea salt, black pepper and horseradish.
Give it a shake and pour into the prepared glasses.
Embellish it with your favorite garnishes (a stalk of celery is a must), and enjoy a really great Bloody Mary!
Bloody Mary Variations
A true Bloody Mary is made with vodka, but she has many sisters which you can make by substituting the vodka for something else.
- For a Bloody Maria, you have a choice of tequila or mezcal. This one is often made into a spicy cocktail with jalapeno-infused tequila.
- To make a Virgin Mary, you can use zero-proof alcohol or a little bit of olive juice. It can also just be a glass of Bloody Mary mix.
- Bourbon is the star of the Bloody Derby.
- To make the Red Snapper, also known as the Bloody Bulldog, you’ll use gin in lieu of vodka.
- Next is the Cubanita, which is made with rum.
- Then there’s the Michelada, which is like a Bloody Mary and a beer margarita in one drink. However, it doesn’t usually contain Bloody Mary mix. Instead it uses a simple combo of tomato juice, lime juice, hot sauce and beer.
There are also a host of other cocktails that are made with different types of mixers.
- A mixture of tomatillo juice, yellow tomato and cucumber make a green Bloody Mary!
- To make a the Bloody Caesar, use clamato juice instead of Bloody Mary mix.
- Lastly, the Bloody Bull calls for Bloody Mary mix but also has beef stock added in.
When it comes to Bloody Marys, there are so many choices! The best way to serve Bloody Marys to guests is to set up your own Bloody Mary bar with Bloody Mary mix, lots of garnishes to choose from and a few types of booze for your guests to decide how to create their favorite bloody.
- Bloody Mary salt, for rim
- 2 ounces vodka
- 4 ounces tomato juice
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 to 4 dashes hot sauce, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- garnishes such as a celery stick, olives and bacon
- Place Bloody Mary rim salt on a plate. Rub a lime wedge around the edge of a Collins or Highball glass. Roll the rim of the glasses in the salt to coat the rim. Add ice cubes to the glass.
- To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, celery salt, sea salt, black pepper and horseradish.
- Shake well and pour into the prepared glass. Embellish with your favorite garnishes.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 cocktail
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 159Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2021mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 1g