The Bloody Maria is the tequila-based Bloody Mary you didn’t know you’ve been missing. This variation on the classic brunch drink is game-changing.
If you are a Bloody Mary fan, I dare you to try the Bloody Maria next time. It’s a Bloody Mary that’s made with tequila and not vodka.
Yes, the Bloody Mary is a classic, but the many variations it bears are worth trying, and the Bloody Maria should be at the top of the list.
What is a Bloody Maria?
The Bloody Maria is the name for a Bloody Mary cocktail that’s made with tequila. The Bloody Mary is typically made with vodka.
Like its vodka sister, the Bloody Maria is often jazzed up with more flavors like horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. However, Mary often uses hot sauce and lemon juice while Maria calls for a Mexican brand of hot sauce and lime juice.
As with any Bloody Mary, it can be adorned with as many fresh and pickled garnishes as you desire. Think lime wedges, cilantro and Mexican pickled carrots. Lots and lots more creative ideas below! (Did someone say quesadillas?!)
Here’s why people love Bloody Marys and Marias:
- It’s an easy recipe. You can use a store-bought Bloody Mary mix or mix up your own that’s tailored to your liking.
- The recipe is scalable. You can serve up a single drink or make a pitcher to serve at brunch.
- There are TONS of customizations. From changing up spirits and ingredients to lots of fun (and edible) garnishes, there are tons of ways to make these savory cocktails all yours. Want to add quesadillas or empanadas? Go for it!
Bloody Maria Mix
Also called the Mexican Bloody Mary, there are two ways to make a Bloody Maria:
- You can use Bloody Mary mix to make your Bloody Marias.
- Or you can mix them up one at a time and tailor every single ingredient.
Though Bloody Mary mix is readily available in stores, any Bloody Mary recipe can be made in a single serving. If you enjoy these savory cocktails often, it might make sense for you to keep your favorite ingredients on hand to mix them up one at a time, instead of using a mix.
If you’re serving a crowd, you may like purchasing Bloody Mary mix (this Bloody Mary mix is one of my faves), or you can mix up your own Bloody Mary mix to get the flavor just right.
My recipe for Bloody Mary mix is a scaled-up version of my classic Bloody Mary recipe, so you can serve it at a party, picnic or tailgate.
To make it into a Bloody Maria mix, simply substitute lime juice for lemon juice and use a Mexican hot sauce such as Cholula or Tapatio.
Once made, all you need to do is pour it into glasses, mix it with tequila, add your garnishes and drink up!
The ingredient list for a Bloody Maria is on the longer side, but every ingredient counts.
Rimming your Bloody Marys with a flavorful salt is a great way to impart some extra flavor in every sip. You can make your own Bloody Mary rim salt with salt, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder.
If you’d like to make it spicy, try one of these variations:
- For some mild chili flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon chili powder and another 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
- To add some citrus flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon Tajín chili lime seasoning.
- To make it spicier, add 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and another 1/4 of salt. It’s just a bit of a kick!
- For even more spice, add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and another 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Perfect for a spicy Bloody Maria!
Though mixing your own rim salt is easy to do, you can also purchase pre-mixed rim salt (and spicy rim salt) to keep on hand as well.
Tomato juice is the key to a perfect Bloody Maria!
If you can, use organic tomato juice. Always make sure to pick up on one that is 100% pure juice with no added sugar. Bloody Marys should be savory, not sweet!
Clamato juice can also 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. More on these variations below.)
Spicy and pungent, horseradish is the condiment often served on prime rib and hot dogs. It is made from a root vegetable of the same name in the mustard family.
Though you can make your own prepared horseradish with vinegar and horseradish root, it is widely available at stores and comes grated and bottled. However, don’t buy “horseradish sauce.” Look for pure, ground, prepared horseradish.
When it comes to mixing drinks, fresh citrus juice is always going to yield the best results.
However, the bottled concentrate has come in handy more than a few times, so I always keep it in the fridge.
If you juice your own limes, use room-temperature fruit to help you get the most juice out of your citrus. I use a hand squeezer for most cocktails.
You might already have Worcestershire sauce on hand, as this flavorful condiment 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 in the condiment aisle of any grocery store, though I have my eye on this bourbon-barrel aged Worcestershire sauce — it would be incredible in a spicy, smoky Bloody Maria!
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. You could even use this orange salt for some extra citrus flavor.
Often used in soups, stews and meat dishes, celery salt is a staple of Bloody Marys too. Essentially it is salt that’s mixed with ground celery seeds.
Since celery is a must-have garnish for Bloody Marys, this salt will infuse more celery flavor into your homemade bloody mix.
If you don’t have it, simply substitute more sea salt or kosher salt. You can even use garlic salt.
Using a hot sauce from Mexico for your tequila Bloody Mary will help your cocktail to have a more authentic flavor that pairs well with your favorite Mexican tequila.
Yes, hot sauce can be spicy, but remember, you’re only using a few dashes per glass. It will dilute and mainly provide a peppery flavor. It is optional, though, so skip if you must.
Valentina, Cholula, Tapatio and Tajín hot sauces are common and well-loved choices at many taco joints, so use your favorite.
I used my favorite Cholula Hot Sauce for this recipe. Melinda’s Garlic Habanero Hot Sauce is another one I love, though it’s on the spicier side.
Tequila or mezcal
Vodka is the spirit of choice for a classic Bloody Mary cocktail, but the Bloody Maria calls for tequila or mezcal. Tequila isn’t just for margaritas!
The kind of tequila you use matters. Here is a quick explanation of your options:
- I prefer a blanco tequila, or silver tequila. It is clear and colorless, and works really well in margarita recipes.
- A reposado tequila is aged tequila has been rested in oak barrels between two months and one year, and gets its natural caramel coloring from the oak. Its flavor is more complex, but you can either mix with it or sip it straight.
- Gold tequila has added caramel color to make it seem aged, so I don’t usually go for that one.
- Añejo and extra añejo are premium tequilas that have been aged for more than a year (extra is more than three!). They get their name from the word for ‘aged’ in Spanish. Like a fine cognac, it is meant to be sipped straight, so I’d stay away from this one.
- You can also use mezcal, which has a smokier flavor than tequila. (Technically tequila is a type of mezcal.)
- Infused tequila, like this Spicy Jalapeño Tequila, is another way you can experiment with tequila for this cocktail. Honestly, I think a spicy cranberry margarita would be quite good!
My go-tos for tequila are El Jimador, Espolon and Lunazul, but on occasion I will splurge on Patron or Casamigos. Check out my Tequila 101 guide to help you choose a favorite.
If you are one of my fellow tequila lovers, you probably keep your favorite bottle around for mixing.
How to make a Bloody Maria
You’ll need some Collins glasses or Highball glasses and a cocktail shaker.
Go ahead and rim your glasses with Bloody Mary salt if you’re doing so. Pour some of the salt onto a small plate. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of the glass, then roll the edges in the salt to coat.
Then, fill the glasses with fresh ice.
Add ice to the shaker, then add your tequila, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, celery salt, sea salt, black pepper and horseradish.
Shake it up well, then pour into your prepared glasses.
Adorn it with some creative garnishes, and enjoy along with some tortilla chips and Bloody Mary salsa.
Bloody Maria Garnishes
Part of the fun of any Bloody Mary is that you can adorn them with tons of edible garnishes. Or you can skip this. Whatever you prefer!
Here’s a shortlist of ideas for creative garnishes for the ultimate Bloody Maria:
- spicy salt — for the rims of the glass
- a lemon wedge and/or lime wedge
- grape or cherry tomatoes
- celery stalk (a must for the traditional Bloody Mary)
- fresh cilantro
- sweet pepper slices
- jalapeño slices
- jalapeno poppers
- cucumber spear
- avocado slices or avocado fries
- a dill pickle spear, sliced dill pickles or cornichons
- a skewer of pickled vegetables, such as jalapeños or cauliflower
- bacon — I like to bake bacon ahead of time to serve with Bloody Marys
- shrimp — this fajita shrimp would be incredible with a Bloody Maria
- queso fresco
- quesadilla wedges
- tortilla chips
My advice is to pick a handful of these options — 1-2 meats, a few fresh and pickled veggies, plus a couple of the more unexpected ones. Serve them with bamboo cocktail skewers and let guests build their ultimate Bloody Maria.
Non-alcoholic Bloody Maria recipe
While you can make a virgin Bloody Maria by simply enjoying Bloody Mary mix on its own, you can also sub zero-proof tequila instead of regular tequila. Zero-proof alcohol is wonderful to have on hand when you desire a cocktail without the booze.
My favorite for the Bloody Maria is the Ritual Zero Proof tequila alternative, which has a lovely smoky, tequila flavor without any alcohol. It’s so good, I promise!
More Bloody Mary recipes
The Bloody Maria is just one of the many types of Bloody Marys you can make.
Here are some of the other Bloody Mary variations out there:
- 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.
- Then there’s the Michelada, which is like a Bloody Mary and a beer margarita combined. 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.
- The New Orleans Bloody Mary is a fun spin made with cajun seasoning, creole hot sauce and crawfish bitters.
There are also a host of other cocktails that are made with different types of mixers.
- A green Bloody Mary is made with tomatillo, yellow tomato and cucumber.
- The Bloody Caesar is similar too, made with clamato juice not Bloody Mary mix. Clamato juice is a mixture of tomato juice, dried clam broth and spices. (This one is Canada’s national cocktail!)
- The Bloody Bull is made with Bloody Mary mix, but also has beef stock added in.
There are so many choices! 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.
What to serve with a Bloody Maria
You can enjoy a Bloody Maria with just about any breakfast or brunch food.
They’re great with savory items like avocado toast or scrambled eggs (with hot sauce?!) as well as sweet breakfasts like orange poppyseed muffins.
Or try them with your favorite breakfast tacos or a breakfast chorizo burrito.
Bloody Marys are also great game day drinks with snacks like chips and salsa, fried pickles and chicken wings.
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Make a Bloody Maria, a spin on the Bloody Mary with tequila and spicy hot sauce.
- 1 tablespoon Bloody Mary salt, for rim (optional)
- 2 ounces tequila
- 4 ounces tomato juice
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2-4 dashes Mexican hot sauce, such as Cholula
- 1/2 teaspoon horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- garnishes such as a lime wedge, jalapeño slices or bacon
- Rim a highball glass with Bloody Mary salt. Add ice to the glass.
- Add ice to the shaker, then top with tequila, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, celery salt, sea salt, black pepper and horseradish. Cover and shake well until combined.
- Pour Bloody Maria into the prepared glass. Add a lime wedge and other garnishes, if desired.
Use your favorite Mexican hot sauce. My go-to is Cholula, but Tapatio is another famous brand from Mexico. Feel free to add more if you like it spicy!
I recommend a blanco tequila, but a gold tequila or reposado would also be delicious. Stay away from the fancy, aged anejo.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 8 ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 159Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2146mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 1g
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