Celebrate Mardi Gras with this New Orleans Bloody Mary recipe. This Creole-style tomato juice cocktail is for breakfast, brunch and parade-watching, whether you’re in the Big Easy or taking it easy at home.
As we know, there’s nothing like a good brunch. But brunch when you travel? It’s the absolute best.
I’ve been lucky to enjoy the best boozy brunches in New Orleans, and their version of the classic tomato juice cocktail is something special. Some might even say it’s a good hangover cure after a night on Bourbon Street.
The Bloody Mary cocktail is a delicious one, but just wait until you’ve tried the Louisianan twist.
What is a Bloody Mary?
Most often seen on brunch menus, the classic Bloody Mary is a savory cocktail made with vodka and tomato juice.
A good Bloody Mary often contains the flavors of horseradish, lemon juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce and as many garnishes as you can dream of. (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 liking.
- The recipe is scalable. Mix up a single drink or make a pitcher to serve to friends.
- The garnishes are fun (and edible). Want to add mini hamburgers and lobster tails? Go for it.
New Orleans Bloody Mary recipe
The traditional Bloody Mary may be a classic cocktail, but what makes it so fun is that there are tons of variations.
You can use homemade Bloody Mary mix, but to me the best Bloody Marys are made from scratch if you have the time. You can even premix them and make a large pitcher for guests.
If you don’t want to mix these up yourself, you can pick up some cajun Bloody Mary mix which has New Orleans flavors mixed right in.
By switching up some of the ingredients and garnishes, you can make a version that’s reminiscent of the French Quarter of New Orleans.
This recipe pulls in three New Orleans ingredients: Cajun hot sauce, Creole seasoning and Crawfish bitters.
And then for the garnishes, we’ll use any and all of the best Bloody Mary garnishes that speak to us, such as shrimp, olives, pickled okra, bacon, celery and lemon.
Creole vs. Cajun
Now, is this a Creole Bloody Mary or a Cajun Bloody Mary? The answer is in what those terms mean and how they apply to Louisiana cuisine. Some folks use the terms interchangeably, much to the chagrin of the Louisiana people.
According to The Gregory, the difference between cajun and creole food comes down to tomatoes:
Generally speaking, Creole cuisine often uses tomatoes, while Cajun food does not. There are exceptions, of course, but early Creole cooks had access to canned tomatoes from Sicily. To this day, many Creole sauces include tomatoes or tomato puree, while Cajun dishes usually don’t.
So in that sense, since this cocktail contains tomato juice, any New Orleans Bloody Mary shouldn’t be called a Cajun Bloody Mary. It’s a Creole Bloody Mary!
Rimming your Bloody Marys with flavored salt is a great way to impart some extra flavor in every sip.
You can use homemade Bloody Mary salt, which adds the perfect amount of saltiness, spice and texture into each sip.
For a New Orleans twist, you can use Creole seasoning on the rim. You will also want to add some of this seasoning to the Bloody Mary mixture.
Another fun idea would be to crush up some Zapp’s potato chips to use as a rim salt — they are a classic example of New Orleans treats! My favorite are the Voodoo kind, but the Crawfish flavor would be good too.
Tomato juice, of course, is non-negotiable in a Bloody Mary! It is one of the key ingredients.
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!
You may substitute clamato juice for tomato juice. It’s a mixture of tomato juice, dried clam broth and spices. If you use Clamato juice, be warned that technically you’d be making a Bloody Caesar cocktail and not a Bloody Mary. Also, clams and clam juice are not common in New Orleans, so it wouldn’t be an authentic choice for this New Orleans cocktail.
Horseradish is key to Bloody Marys. This spicy, pungent condiment is often served on dishes like hot dogs and prime rib. It’s 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 horseradish root. Be careful not to buy “horseradish sauce.” You are looking for pure, ground, prepared horseradish.
When it comes to mixing any drinks with citrus juice, fresh juice is always going to taste the best. That is true of any fresh ingredients, actually. If you plan to make this, plan on picking up a few lemons to juice yourself.
However, the bottled concentrate is something I always keep it in the fridge, just in case!
Worcestershire sauce is used in tons of dishes like hamburgers, salad dressings and cocktail sauce, so you might already have a bottle in your pantry. If not, check it out! It’s a good one that adds lots of flavor.
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 Louisiana Bloody Mary!
Black pepper is here to add some spice. Freshly cracked pepper will add more flavor to your Bloodies, but you can use pre-ground pepper too. Whatever you have on hand is great.
I keep finely-ground sea salt on hand but feel free to substitute kosher salt.
Celery salt, AKA salt that’s been 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 any Bloody Mary cocktail, this salt infuses more celery flavor into your homemade bloody mix.
Hot sauce can be spicy, especially Louisiana hot sauce. However, keep in mind that you’re only using a few dashes per glass. It will dilute and mainly provide peppery flavor. You can skip it or you can add more to taste. Totally up to you.
Vodka is the spirit of choice for a classic Bloody Mary cocktail as well as the New Orleans version. However, you may 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-tos are Absolut, Deep Eddy and Tito’s Vodka, but on occasion, I will splurge on Reyka or something local. Check out my Vodka 101 guide to help you choose a favorite, or you could swing for a vodka from Louisiana.
There are a number of vodkas that are distilled in Louisiana and made with local ingredients. Vodka is usually distilled with potatoes or grains, but there is some real Down South creativity in these vodkas. If you’d like to try a Louisiana vodka, see if any of these are available in your area:
- JT Meleck Lousiana Rice Vodka is handcrafted with farm-grown Louisiana rice in Branch, La.
- Black-owned Matador Vodka by Sugarfield Spirits is crafted from raw sugar produced from 100% Louisiana grown sugarcane in Gonzales, La.
- Oryza Vodka by Donner-Peltier Distillers is distilled from locally grown rice in Thibodaux, La.
- St. Roch Vodka by Southern Tree Distilling Co. is made in New Orleans.
- Cajun Spirits Distillery’s Crescent Vodka is made from Louisiana sugarcane in New Orleans.
Adding some bitters would be lagniappe (that’s NOLA speak for a little something extra).
My choice would be the crawfish boil bitters from El Guapo Bitters has notes of clove, anise, allspice, pepper, onion, garlic and bay. These bitters helped the New Orleans-based bitters brand win the 2018 NOLA Bloody Mary Festival!
How to make a Creole Bloody Mary
Go ahead and rim your glasses with creole seasoning or Bloody Mary salt if you’re doing so. Then add ice to the glasses.
Next, place ice in the shaker, then add vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, cajun hot sauce, celery salt, sea salt, black pepper, creole seasoning and fresh horseradish.
Give it a shake and pour into the prepared glasses.
Embellish it with your favorite garnishes, and enjoy!
Bloody Mary Garnishes
Part of the fun of Bloody Marys is that you make them fancy with edible garnishes, or you can skip. Whatever feels good to you.
If you are putting together a Bloody Mary bar, you can set out a bunch of these different options for guests to play with.
Here’s a shortlist of classic ideas for garnishes for a Bloody Mary.
- a celery stalk
- a dill pickle spear, sliced dill pickles or cornichons
- a skewer of pickled vegetables, such as jalapeños, cauliflower, green beans or asparagus
- fresh or cooked vegetables like fresh tomatoes or green onion
- olives — these blue-cheese stuffed olives are a favorite of mine
- cocktail onions
- bacon — I like to bake bacon ahead of time to serve with Bloody Marys
- lemon wedges or lime wedges
- grape or cherry tomatoes
- cheese cubes
For the ultimate Creole Bloody Mary, try one of these New Orleans-inspired garnishes:
- spicy salt — for the rims of the glass
- shrimp — this cajun shrimp would be incredible
- boiled crawfish
- fried oysters
- fresh crab claw or soft shell crab
- pickled okra
- spicy green beans
- fried green tomatoes
- mini po-boy sandwiches
- savory beignets such as crawfish beignets
- boudin balls
- crab hush puppies
My advice is to pick a handful of these options and serve them with bamboo cocktail skewers.
More Bloody Mary Recipes
Bloody Marys are made with bloody mary mix and vodka, but she has many sisters made by substituting the vodka for another spirit entirely.
- The Bloody Maria is made with tequila or mezcal. This one is often made spicy with jalapeno-infused tequila.
- A Virgin Mary is made with zero-proof alcohol or a little bit of olive juice. It can also just be a glass of Bloody Mary mix.
- The Bloody Derby is made with bourbon.
- The Red Snapper, AKA the Bloody Bulldog, is made with gin.
- Next is the Cubanita, which is made with rum.
- Then there’s the Michelada, which is is like a Bloody Mary and a beer margarita mixed into one. However, it doesn’t contain Bloody Mary mix and it is made with a simple combo of tomato juice, lime juice, hot sauce and beer.
More Mardi Gras Cocktail Recipes
Looking for some drinks to celebrate Fat Tuesday with? Look no further than these Mardi Gras cocktails.
This King Cake Martini is a delicious and sweet recipe indicative of the famous purple, green and gold cake.
Let me know if you try this New Orleans Bloody Mary! Please leave a review or comment below to tell me how it goes.
- Bloody Mary salt or creole seasoning, for rim
- 2 ounces vodka
- 4 ounces tomato juice
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 to 4 dashes cajun hot sauce, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 to 4 dashes crawfish bitters (see note)
- garnishes such as a celery stick, shrimp and pickled okra
- Place Bloody Mary rim salt on a plate. Rub a lemon 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, cajun hot sauce, horseradish, creole seasoning, celery salt, sea salt, and black pepper.
- Shake well and pour into the prepared glass. Top with crawfish bitters. Embellish with your favorite garnishes.
For bitters, Angostura bitters and celery bitters can be substituted.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 2564mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g