The Best Bloody Mary Cocktail Recipe

The Bloody Mary is a cocktail synonymous with Sunday brunch and lazy afternoons. A purported hangover cure, so many are consumed on New Year’s Day that January 1st is the unofficial National Bloody Mary Day.

It doesn’t do much for my morning-after headache personally, but it is a deliciously refreshing savory treat. A much welcome palate cleanser during an evening drinking mostly sweet and fruity cocktails.

So, how can you make this tangy tomato classic yourself?

Bloody Mary cocktail on a black tray with a tomato and herb garnish, and tomatoes sitting next to it

Bloody Mary Ingredients

  • 2 oz Vodka.

The base spirit, vodka is used for its neutral flavor. I like Grey Goose for a luxuriously smooth taste to my drink. Pro tip: Pre-chill your vodka for an even smoother taste.

  • 4 oz Tomato Juice.

The “bloody” part; rich and savory.

  • 1 lemon wedge.

Squeeze it freshly into your drink for a tangy kick.

  • A dash of Worcestershire Sauce.

The “not-so-secret” secret ingredient. Adds depth and umami to your drink.

  • A dash of Tabasco or Hot Sauce.

For that spicy edge. You can play around with different hot sauces and see which one works best for you. I always end up coming back to Tabasco. Nothing seems to beat it.

  • 1 Teaspoon of Horseradish.

For heat and pungency. Not a must, but very highly recommended. Buy it fresh if possible. This might seem over the top but I called this post “Best Bloody Mary Recipe” for a reason. Go that extra step and your tastebuds will be rewarded - believe me.

  • Pepper.

Just a pinch or two, to your taste.

  • Celery Salt.

For an earthy saltiness. I add one teaspoon, but you can add more to your taste.

  • Garnishes.

Typically celery, lemon wedges, and sometimes olives or pickles. You can be a minimalist or go all out with your garnishes - the choice is yours.

How to Make a Bloody Mary Cocktail

Making a Bloody Mary is a bit like cooking up your favorite dish. It's all about balancing  the flavors: sweet, sour, salty, and umami. Here's how to make it the right way:

1. Mix the Base:

In your cocktail shaker, add 2 oz of vodka with 4 oz of tomato juice.

2. Add the Flavor:

Squeeze in the lemon wedge, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to taste. If you're feeling adventurous, add a teaspoon of horseradish too.

3. Season:

Add a pinch celery salt and pepper. The seasoning can make or break your Bloody Mary. I live by the adage “less is more” here - you can always add a little more salt, pepper or hot sauce later but you can’t take it out once it’s been added. Start conservatively and adjust the ingredients according to your taste.

4. Shake it Up:

Fill the shaker with ice, shake well, and strain into a glass filled with ice. Some people prefer to stir their  Bloody Mary. I prefer shaking it as it leads to an aerated, ever so slightly frothy drink which I find to be far nicer.

5. Garnish:

Garnish with a celery stick and a lemon wedge. Feel free to get creative here!

Mixology Tip: Salt the Rim

If you want to go the extra mile in making your Bloody Mary you can salt the rim of your glass to add an extra dimension to the taste and presentation of your drink. To do this, place a small amount of celery salt on a plate. Cut a notch in a wedge of lemon and and spread the juice around the rim of your highball glass. Take the glass and dip the rim in the celery salt, rotating it to get an even spread.

Two Bloody Mary cocktails with salted rims sitting on a wooden table, with celery stalks next to them

Variations of Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary is incredibly versatile. Here are some variations:

  • Bloody Maria: Swap out the vodka for tequila for a much more potent cocktail. This one definitely won’t be curing any hangovers!
  • Michelada: A Mexican creation that swaps the vodka out for beer but keeps the Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and celery components. Some versions have tomato juice whilst others skip it entirely. This is a strange one, but definitely worth a try.
  • Red Snapper: Made with gin instead of vodka for a more botanical flavor.
  • Caesar: Canada’s answer to the Bloody Mary, made with Clamato juice - a concoction of tomato juice and clam broth.

Other Cocktails Similar to a Bloody Mary

If you're a fan of the Bloody Mary, you might also enjoy similarly refreshing brunch cocktails such as:

  • Screwdriver: Much simpler than a Bloody Mary but similar in that it’s a vodka-based morning drink. Simply combine vodka, orange juice and ice, and you’re done.
  • Mimosa: Another brunch staple, the Mimosa combines orange juice with sparkling wine or Champagne for a satisfyingly bubbly drink.

Bar Tools Needed to Make a Bloody Mary

To whip up a Bloody Mary, you’ll need some basic bar tools:

  • Shaker: As I mentioned earlier, you can make a stirred Bloody Mary but for this recipe we’ll be sticking with a shaken one.
  • Jigger: You’ll need this to measure out the vodka and tomato juice.
  • Strainer: You can use either the built in strainer on your martini shaker or a separate Hawthorne strainer for this drink. If the tomato juice you use is on the thicker side you might have to shake it a bit to get it all out.
  • Glasses: A highball glass is standard for serving.


And there you have it - your comprehensive guide on how to make the best Bloody Mary. Whether you're nursing a hangover, hosting a brunch, or just in the mood for something savory and spicy, there isn’t really a bad time to whip up this savory delight.


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