Classic Bloody Mary

Here’s how to make the best Bloody Mary! The store-bought version can’t hold a candle to this brilliantly flavored homemade mix.

Bloody mary recipe

Want to make a Bloody Mary at home? Here’s how! We’re Alex and Sonja, and we’ve made more homemade cocktail recipes than we can count. Let us tell you: we’ve spent a considerable amount of time tweaking this Bloody Mary mix recipe to perfection. Turns out, making the absolute perfect version of this classic cocktail requires a few secrets. Here’s how to make the best Bloody Mary: savory, spicy, tangy, and salty all at once. It’s ideal for brunch, but we’ll admit: we crave these anytime.

When was the Bloody Mary invented?

The Bloody Mary cocktail was invented in the 1920’s, most likely at the New York Bar in Paris (where other famous cocktails were born, like the French 75 and Between the Sheets). There are lots of origin stories for the cocktail and the name Bloody Mary. Some people say it’s named after Queen Mary I of England, or Mary Pickford, a movie star back in the day. Whatever the case, this combination of tomato juice and vodka has become one of the most famous brunch cocktails in the world.

Ingredients in a Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary is a drink with thousands of variations, so the ingredients vary based on who’s making it. The drink is on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, which lists the official ingredients in a Bloody Mary as:

  • Vodka
  • Tomato juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Celery salt
  • Black pepper

The recipe you’ll see below stays true to the classic definition, with the addition of horseradish for a savory, spicy dimension. We’ve also honed the method to make the perfect thickness of texture…keep reading for why.

Bloody Mary recipe

How to make a Bloody Mary: mix or single drink (basic method)

Most of our cocktail recipes are single servings, but this recipe is for Bloody Mary mix that makes 4 drinks. You can use it for entertaining, or if you want a single serving: refrigerate the remainder and the flavor improves over time. Here’s the best way to make a Bloody Mary:

  • If you can, chill the tomato juice and vodka first. This lets the drink get cold without having to use too much ice to dilute it. So the moment you buy the ingredients for the drink: chill them!
  • Shake the Bloody Mary mix in a cocktail shaker without ice. The best way to make a Bloody Mary is not shaking or stirring it with ice, like you would with a normal drink. Why? It dilutes the mix too much and makes for a watery consistency. Simply mix the mixture without ice, then serve it over ice. This results in the perfect, thick consistency and flavor.
  • Strain and if time, chill. Straining removes the chunks of horseradish from the drink: a cocktail strainer is best (though you can use whatever strainer you have). If you have time, chilling the mixture for about 1 hour or overnight lets the flavors meld. But if you want it on demand, serve immediately.
  • Rim the glass and garnish! Serve over ice with the garnishes of your choice.
Bloody mary mix

Chilling allows the flavors to meld (optional)

Here’s the thing about this Bloody Mary recipe: it tastes great right away. It also tastes even better after chilling for 1 hour, or even better overnight. (You can chill up to 1 week.) Why? Chilling helps to meld all the ingredients together into a cohesive flavor, instead of tasting them all separately.

Because Bloody Marys are usually made for entertaining and often for brunch, it’s usually easy enough to whip up the mix in advance and chill until serving. Of course if you want to drink it right away: go for it! The flavor is still fantastic.

Best Bloody Mary garnishes

The fun part is the garnishes for a Bloody Mary! This drink has inspired creativity world wide, with all sorts of interesting pickled vegetables that can be added. Here are a few favorite garnishes for a Bloody Mary:

  • Celery stalks (required!)
  • Lemon wedges
  • Pimento stuffed olives
  • Cocktail onions
  • Dill pickle spears
  • Pepperoncini
  • Pickled jalapeno peppers
  • Pickled okra
  • Pickled cauliflower
  • Pickled asparagus
Best Bloody mary

Cocktail picks make for easy garnishing

If you’re serving Bloody Marys for guests, it’s nice to use cocktail picks for your garnishes. (If you’re solo, you can just throw them all in!) Thread all your garnishes onto the picks or skewers, which looks stunning and helps keep the cocktail easy to drink. Here are the bamboo cocktail picks we use.

How to rim a Bloody Mary

What’s best to use for a Bloody Mary glass rim? Just like with garnishes, there are all sorts of ways you can coat the rim of this drink. Here’s what we prefer: a 50/50 mixture of Old Bay seasoning and kosher salt. If you can’t find Old Bay, you can use celery salt instead. Here’s how to get the perfect rim:

  1. Spread the salt and Oldy Bay on a plate in an even layer.
  2. Take a lemon wedge and cut a notch in the middle: then slide it around the rim of the glass. This perfectly moistens the glass rim without having to use your fingers!
  3. To rim the glass, you’ll want the salt and seasoning on the outside of the glass only. To do this, tilt the glass so that only the outside edge goes into the salt. Shake off any loose salt into the sink.
Bloody mary garnishes

Bloody Mary variations

The Bloody Mary is such a classic, there are many famous variations on the drink! Here are some of our favorites, most of which use this Bloody Mary mix as a basis:

  • Bloody Maria Here’s the Mexican spin on this drink: using tequila!
  • Red Snapper The version with gin!
  • Spicy Mary Love the heat? Make this version with jalapeno peppers.
  • Virgin Mary Who needs vodka? This zero-proof version is just as good.
  • Michelada While not a direct descendant, it’s a Mexican style beer-based variation.

This Bloody Mary mix recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan (with vegan Worcestershire sauce), plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Bloody mary recipe

Classic Bloody Mary


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 drinks 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s how to make the best Bloody Mary! The store-bought version can’t hold a candle to this brilliantly flavored homemade mix.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups tomato juice, chilled
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (vegan as desired)
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) vodka, chilled
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)
  • For the rim: Old Bay seasoning (purchased or homemade) and kosher salt
  • For the garnish: celery stalk, lemon wedge, olive, cocktail onion (use cocktail picks if desired)

Instructions

  1. If time allows, chill the tomato juice and vodka. Shake the tomato juice before pouring.
  2. In a large cocktail shaker, combine the tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, Tabasco, celery salt and black pepper. Shake well to combine (without ice). Strain into a quart mason jar or small pitcher.
  3. Optional: If time, chill at least 1 hour or overnight for the best flavor. (Or, make ahead and store up to 1 week.) But you also can serve right away!
  4. To serve, on a plate place a mixture of roughly half kosher salt and half Old Bay seasoning (or celery salt). Cut a notch in a lemon wedge, then run it around the rim of a glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of salt.
  5. To each glass, add 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of vodka and 1/2 cup of Bloody Mary mix and stir gently to combine. Fill the glass with ice and add the garnishes.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary mix

More classic cocktails

Love the classics? Here are a few more classic cocktails to try:

  • Whiskey Sour or Pisco Sour Try a classic sour: they’re retro perfection.
  • Tom Collins A Tom Collins is also known as a gin sour: is light and bubbly with soda water.
  • Margarita One of the most popular of all time.
  • Sidecar The perfect balance of Cognac, Cointreau and lemon.
  • Moscow Mule Ginger beer, lime and vodka: in a copper mug.
  • Gin Fizz Sweet, tangy, with a frothy egg white foam topping.
  • Aperol Spritz The classic Aperol spritz is worth the hype!
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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