Bloody Derby

Essentially a Bloody Mary with whiskey, the Bloody Derby is a tasty cocktail for brunch. Made with bourbon and tomato juice, this twist on the classic savory cocktail is one you shouldn’t miss.

a whiskey Bloody Mary with a bottle of bourbon

With Derby Day coming up in a few weeks, I wanted to introduce you to a bourbon drink you might not have seen coming.

Since the horse race starts mid-day, you can start rolling out the mint juleps earlier in the day, right? That’s the perfect time for a Bloody Mary.

Bloody Derby recipe: A bourbon Bloody Mary

The Bloody Derby is a Bloody Mary made with bourbon and it’s a variation on the classic brunch drink you don’t want to miss.

Also sometimes called the Bloody Marianne, the bourbon in this cocktail brings a sweetness to combat all the savory flavors. (Almost like how caramelized onions can balance out a savory dish.)

And what’s Derby Day without a fancy hat? The same is true for a Bloody Mary without garnishes. Dress your cocktail up with a garnish of bacon, olives, pickled veggies and anything else you can dream of.

You can make your Bloody Derby by the glass, or you can mix them up with homemade Bloody Mary mix.

asparagus and bacon in a bloody derby cocktail

What is a Bloody Mary with whiskey called?

There are a few takes on what to call the Bloody Mary when it’s made with whiskey. The type of whiskey matters too, but only a little bit.

If you make it with Irish Whiskey, we can call it a Bloody Molly, according to Jameson Irish Whiskey.

If made with bourbon or even rye, the most classic name is the Bloody Derby.

However, some restaurants call the bourbon Bloody Mary a Shotgun Bloody, and others call it a Bloody Marianne.

(I assume that the name Marianne is meant to be a nod to Southern double names… But as a Southern lady myself, I can tell you the most Southern spelling would be Mary Ann or Mary Anne. I don’t trust that name one bit!).

Whatever you call it, a Bloody Mary with whiskey is delicious.

Bloody Mary rim salt on a black plate, ready to rim cocktails


You can easily make this Bloody Mary with bourbon by the glass, and here is what you’ll need to grab at the grocery store:

Rim Salt

Adding a flavorful salty rim to a Bloody Mary is a great way to impart more flavor into every sip. Make your own with salt, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder, or you can buy pre-mixed Bloody Mary salt to keep on hand.

For your Bloody Derby, try using bourbon smoked sea salt in your Bloody Mary rim salt for some extra whiskey flavor.

Tomato juice

Tomato juice is the key to a perfect Bloody Mary!

Organic tomato juice is what I prefer to use, 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 bloody to be too sweet! (The bourbon will take care of this for us.)

Clamato juice — which is a mixture of tomato juice, dried clam broth and spices — may be substituted for tomato juice.


Horseradish (yes, the same spicy stuff served on prime rib and hot dogs!) is made from a root vegetable of the same name in the mustard family, and it’s a stalwart of the Bloody Mary.

This condiment comes both 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.)

Lemon Juice

As with any cocktail, fresh citrus juice will taste the best in a cocktail. However, I always keep the bottled concentrate in the fridge for emergencies!

If you’re planning to serve lemon wedges as garnishes, you may as well juice a few for your Bloody Derbys too.

Worcestershire Sauce

Worcestershire sauce is used in tons of dishes like hamburgers, salad dressings and cocktail sauce, so you might already have this flavorful condiment in your pantry.

This condiment is a fermented, all-purpose sauce made from vinegar and flavored with anchovies, molasses, tamarind, onion, garlic and other seasonings, and it’s key in a Bloody Mary.

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 Derby especially!

a carafe of homemade Bloody Mary mix with a kitchen towel and a plate of Bloody Mary rim salt

Salt & Pepper

For salt: I recommend finely-ground sea salt, but feel free to substitute kosher salt.

For pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper will give off the best flavor, but you can use pre-ground pepper too.

If you’re looking for more bourbon flavor for your cocktail, try this bourbon smoked salt and bourbon smoked pepper.

Celery 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 cocktails.

Hot Sauce

Hot sauce can be spicy, but 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.

Cholula, Tabasco, Tapatio and Texas Pete are common and well-loved choices, so use your favorite.

For a Kentucky twist, try bourbon barrel habanero hot sauce.


Vodka is the spirit of choice for a classic Bloody Mary cocktail, but this is the Bloody Derby so we will need a good Kentucky bourbon!

If you have a favorite bourbon, this is the time to bring it out! I love Maker’s Mark for the sweet, oaky, caramel flavor it brings to a drink at a good price, but there are many more options out there that would be equally delicious.

Woodford Reserve, Angel’s Envy, Four Roses, Old Forester and Bulleit are some of my favorites, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them! Check out my Bourbon 101 guide if you need help picking a brand to buy.

And don’t forget that Louisville, the home of the Kentucky Derby, is filled to the brim with bourbon distilleries. (Check out my Louisville travel guide if you ever find yourself there.)

an infographic of Bloody Mary garnish ideas

Bloody Derby Garnishes

Like a good hat for Derby Day, part of the fun of the Bloody Mary is a few really fun garnishes.

I have a list of classic garnish ideas for Bloody Marys below (and a whole post with the ultimate list of garnishes too), but I have some creative ideas for a truly southern Bloody Mary cocktail.

Here’s a short list of classic garnish ideas for garnishes for the ultimate Bloody Derby cocktail:

  • spicy salt — for the rims of the glass
  • a lemon wedge or lime wedge
  • celery stalks
  • a dill pickle spear, sliced dill pickles or cornichons
  • pickled vegetables, such as 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 — I like to bake bacon ahead of time to serve with Bloody Marys
  • shrimp — this Old Bay steamed shrimp would be incredible
  • grape or cherry tomatoes
  • cheese cubes

My advice is to pick a handful of these options and serve them with bamboo cocktail skewers.

bloody derby cocktail garnishes

How to make a Bloody Mary with whiskey

Making a Bloody Derby is easy to do! Here’s how to make them:

Pull out a Collins glass or Highball glass and a cocktail shaker.

Go ahead and rim your glasses with Bloody Mary salt if you’re doing so. Then add ice 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.

Shake it well and pour into the prepared glasses.

Embellish it with your favorite garnishes, and enjoy!

Variations and substitutions

There are a number of ways to make the Bloody Derby all yours.

Make a Bloody Molly. Use Irish Whiskey instead of bourbon. This will have a more malty taste but I bet it would be really good!

Make a Bloody Mary Queen of Scots. Also called the Bloody Joseph, the Bloody Mary Queen of Scots is a twist on the classic brunch drink with Scotch whiskey, where the salty flavors of the bacon and tomato juice help the peaty flavor of Scotch to shine.

Use rye whiskey. Rye whiskey has a more peppery flavor than bourbon. Its signature spicy finish would be excellent in the Bloody Derby.

Make it non-alcoholic. Use Ritual whiskey alternative to make an alcohol-free cocktail.

Use flavored whiskey. If you want some more sweetness, try honey whiskey. If you want some spiciness, use cinnamon whiskey. However, I can’t attest to either of these options, but let me know how it goes if you try it!

Go to town with bourbon-smoked and barrel-aged ingredients! Try one (or all) of these bourbon barrel foods in your drink:

a Bloody Mary with whiskey on a white background

Bloody Mary Variations

Typically the Bloody Mary recipe is made with a combination of Bloody Mary mix and vodka, but she has many sister recipes that are made by substituting the vodka for something else.

  • The Bloody Maria stars either tequila or smoky mezcal. This one is often made spicy with jalapeño-infused tequila.
  • Next is the Virgin Mary. Make it with zero-proof alcohol or a little bit of olive juice. It can also just be a glass of Bloody Mary mix.
  • The Red Snapper, AKA the Bloody Bulldog, features herbal gin.
  • And then there’s the Michelada, which is like a Bloody Mary and a beer margarita combined. However, it doesn’t contain Bloody Mary mix at all. Instead, make it with 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 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. (This one is Canada’s national cocktail!)
  • The Bloody Bull is made with Bloody Mary mix, but also has beef stock added in.

Or you can switch up the spices and condiments. For example, the New Orleans Bloody Mary is made with cajun hot sauce and creole seasoning.

There are so many ways to make a Bloody Mary! Set up your own Bloody Mary bar with Bloody Mary mix, lots of garnishes to choose from and a few types of booze. Guests can choose how to create their favorite bloody.

a bottle of whiskey with a Bloody Mary

More Derby recipes

If you are planning a Derby Day party, the Bloody Derby is just one of the cocktails you can serve up.

A classic mint julep, of course, is the official cocktail of the famous horse race.

The Black-Eyed Susan is the drink for the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Jewel is the drink for the Belmont Stakes.

Of course, any bourbon cocktail would be just as welcome at a Derby party. Try a Kentucky classic Seelbach champagne cocktail, a Kentucky mule or a classic old-fashioned.

asparagus and bacon in a bloody derby cocktail

Bloody Derby

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Enjoy a Bloody Derby, essentially a Bloody Mary with whiskey, for Derby Day or brunch anytime.
5 from 4 votes
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  • 1 tablespoon Bloody Mary salt for rim (optional)
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 4 ounces tomato juice
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-4 dashes hot sauce to taste
  • ½ teaspoon horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • garnishes, such as a celery rib, olive, bacon or cocktail onion


  • Rim a highball glass with Bloody Mary salt. Add ice to the glass.
  • Add ice to the shaker, then top with bourbon, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, celery salt, sea salt, black pepper and horseradish. Cover and shake well until combined.
  • Pour Bloody Mary into the prepared glass. Add a celery rib and other garnishes, if desired.


Make a Bloody Molly. Use Irish Whiskey instead of bourbon. This will have a more malty taste but I bet it would be really good!
Use rye whiskey. Rye whiskey has a more peppery flavor than bourbon. Its signature spicy finish would be excellent in the Bloody Derby.
Make it non-alcoholic. Skip the alcohol or use a whiskey alternative to make an alcohol-free cocktail.
Try bourbon-smoked and barrel-aged ingredients! Try one (or all) of these bourbon barrel foods in your drink:

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 cocktail

amount per serving:

Serving: 1oz Calories: 158kcal Carbohydrates: 7g Protein: 1g Fat: 0.1g Saturated Fat: 0.03g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g Sodium: 2392mg Potassium: 313mg Fiber: 1g Sugar: 5g Vitamin A: 517IU Vitamin C: 27mg Calcium: 20mg Iron: 1mg
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  1. Linda says

    Can’t wait to make more of this bloody derby (and bloody molly). The flavor is so fun and tasty at the same time

  2. Jennifer says

    What a fun cocktail and a tasty twist on a classic! I can’t wait to make these again with some different garnishes. Great suggestions!

  3. Rupali says

    This takes the classic drink to the next level. Loved the hit of horseradish, and chili. I am so making it again, and again!

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