Bloody Mary: the only recipe you’ll ever need for the classic brunch cocktail

Total time: 5 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 1 person
By Cookist

No brunch session is complete without a Bloody Mary or two. This classic red cocktail has it all: it's spicy, savory, salt, and tangy. The Bloody Mary is a vodka-based cocktail made with tomato juice, plus savory elements like Worcestershire sauce, spicy ingredients like hot sauce, pepper, and prepared horseradish, plus a splash of citrus to help zest things up.

The Bloody Mary is super easy to customize. You can add a whole slew of fabulous garnishes from the classic celery stalk (which helps cleanse the palate) to bacon, shrimp, pickled veggies, or even hard-boiled eggs.

At 10 percent alcohol by volume, Bloody Marys aren't overly strong, so they're an amazing cocktail to enjoy with your go-to brunch dishes.

Bloody Mary Origins

The Bloody Mary was created by the actor George Jessel around 1939. Anyway, also France claims the origin of this cocktail which is attributed to Fernand Petiot as he wrote this on the New Yorker Magazine in July 1964.

The name refers to the blood red color of the cocktail but the epithet "Bloody Mary" is attributed to some female characters in history including Queen Mary I of England, otherwise known as "Bloody". According to some, it was the Hollywood star Mary Pickford who inspired this cocktail which previously, in the version with rum, grenadine and maraschino, was named after her.

Bloody Mary Ingredients

The Bloody Mary is a complex cocktail thanks to the wonderful array of ingredients used in the recipe. There are many versions of the Bloody Mary, and you should feel free to tweak this recipe to your tastes. No matter what you do, you'll need a few basics.

Vodka is the spirit of choice in the classic Bloody Mary.

Tomato juice, plus some fresh lemon or lime adds a brightness that lifts the flavor of the drink.

Hot sauce, prepared horseradish, and pepper bring the heat, while a dash of Worcestershire sauce gives the Bloody Mary its signature savoriness (you can use soy sauce instead).

Finally, you'll need some smoked paprika to bring a smoky note to the drink and your favorite toppings to garnish your cocktail.

How to Make a Bloody Mary

You can make wickedly good Bloody Marys in a flash. Start by salting the rim with celery salt. To do this, pour celery salt into a shallow bowl. Rub a citrus wedge (lemon or lime will do) around the rim of a pint glass, then gently but firmly press it in the celery salt.

Squeeze the citrus wedge into a cocktail shaker. Pour in vodka, tomato juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, paprika, and salt. Add ice. Shake well, and strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Add your favorite garnishes, and enjoy!

Can You Make Bloody Marys Ahead of Time?

If you need enough Bloody Marys to serve a crowd, don't fret. It's incredibly easy to pre-batch Bloody Marys in advance. Simply combine all the ingredients except the vodka and ice.

Bloody Mary Toppings

Savory, spicy, crunchy garnishes are best when it comes to Bloody Mary toppings. Try a stalk of celery, pickled green beans, cocktail onions, jalapenos, green olives, dill pickles, and pickled peppers are amazing options.

You can also add a sprig of fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro as a garnish.

Don't forget lemon or lime for an extra zesty lift.

Add extra seasonings like Old Bay or Creole spice blends.

You can also think outside the box and use cooked shrimp, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, and cheese as toppings to jazz up your Bloody Mary.

Tips for Making the Best Bloody Mary

Don't bother with store-bought Bloody Mary mix. It will never be as tasty as a mix you make at home. Short on time? You can make Bloody Marys a day or two in advance.

Garnishes are your chance to add some flair to your Bloody Marys. Get creative with your toppings!

Any hot sauce works in a Bloody Mary. Use your favorite.

Bloody Mary Variations

There are loads of fantastic spins you can put on a Bloody Mary. Instead of vodka, using tequila or mezcal gives you a Bloody Maria.

Looking to make a virgin Bloody Mary? Just leave out the vodka!

If you enjoy the savory flavor of Clamato, add that to your cocktail instead of tomato juice to make a Bloody Caesar (also known simply as a Caesar).

Anyone who enjoys spice but craves something a little lighter than a Bloody Mary will love a Michelada, made from beer instead of vodka.

Using green tomatoes or tomatillos will give you a Green Mary, or you can try flavored vodka instead of regular vodka.

Pepper, citrus, and spicy vodkas are all excellent choices.

What to Serve with a Bloody Mary

Along with mimosas, the Bloody Mary is the classic brunch cocktail. Serve it with traditional brunch fare like eggs Benedict, bacon, sausages, or breakfast burritos. It also goes well with savory snacks like mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, cocktail meatballs, bacon-wrapped pepper poppers, and more.

Celery salt
Lemon wedge
2 ounces
Tomato juice
4 ounces
prepared horseradish
2 tsp
Tabasco sauce
2 dashes
Worcestershire Sauce
2 dashes
Ground black pepper
a pinch
smoked paprika
a pinch
celery stalk, for garnish


Pour celery salt into a small shallow bowl.

Run the lemon wedge around the rim of a pint glass.

Dip the glass into the celery salt, making sure to coat the edges around the rim.

Squeeze the lemon into a cocktail shaker.

Pour in vodka, tomato juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, paprika, and salt. Add ice.

Shake well, then strain into a glass filled with fresh ice.

Add desired garnishes such as celery stalk, and serve.


Use soy sauce or vegan Worcestershire sauce to make a vegan or vegetarian-friendly Bloody Mary.

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