Often a hangover “cure” for the urban brunch-goers of the world, the Bloody Mary makes for a nicely savory start to your Sunday when the bottomless Mimosas just aren’t going to cut it. A Bloody Mary can be very spicy, very mild, or somewhere in between, so adjust the amount of Tabasco sauce to taste. And for an extra kick, you can add some ground cayenne pepper to the salt on the rim.
|2 oz vodka|
|4 oz tomato juice|
|1 dash lemon juice|
|2 dashes Worcestershire sauce|
|2-3 drops Tabasco sauce|
|Olive or celery or pickled green bean or lime or cucumber, in any combination, for garnish (optional)|
|Salt and pepper to taste|
Preparation: How to make a Bloody Mary
- Add all ingredients (except garnishes) to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled.
- Strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice cubes (optionally, salt the rim of the glass).
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add garnishes of your choice and serve.
More about Bloody Mary
Like a good casserole, stir fry, or smoothie, the beauty of the Bloody Mary is that it can be tweaked and adjusted to please just about any palate. Those who like them spicy can add a few extra dashes of Tabasco, veggie lovers can stuff theirs full of celery, carrots, and pickles, and epicureans can play around with a whole host of spices, sauces, and other tinctures to create their own signature flavors.
While it's a versatile drink, though, it's important not to get too carried away. We can't count the number of times we've gone out to brunch with high expectations for this classic hangover cure, only to have them dashed against a drink so overwrought that it was more food than beverage. So take it easy, start with the basics, and try to limit yourself to only messing with one ingredient at a time.
Unlike a lot of our favorite cocktails, the vodka you use in a Bloody Mary isn't particularly important. It's so heavily concealed under the tomato juice, spices, and sauces that you don't want to waste any of that fancy Stoli Elit or Crystal Head, unless all you've got in the house is top-shelf stuff.
That's not to say we recommend just getting the cheapest spirit you can, because a truly awful vodka really can ruin a Bloody Mary. A standard Stolichnaya, Svedka, or Smirnoff will work just fine—luckily, vodka is a pretty inexpensive category all around, so it's easy to find a decent bottle for less than $20.
Tomato juice, on the other hand, is the Bloody Mary's heart and soul. No matter how many spices or spirits you mix with it, cheaping out on this stuff will make for a bad drink. R.W. Knudsen has gotten consistently good marks from various publications, as has Campbell's, and we tend to agree.
Don't go nuts on fancy, heirloom brands, but stay away from anything remotely approaching a Bloody Mary mix. Like Margarita mix, it's cloying, unsubtle, and frankly, just plain gross.
Spices and sauces are what make the Bloody Mary interesting, but it's important not to overdo them. There's no "right way" to balance the flavors, but a nice, basic combination goes as follows:
To start, rim your glass with a lime and some celery salt. Into the shaker with your vodka and tomato juice, add a dash or two each of lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce (for the vegetarians out there, make sure to get a vegan Worcestershire sauce, as the regular stuff is made with anchovies), Tabasco sauce, and a pinch of ground pepper.
The drink you're left with is simple, straightforward, and serves as a good starting point from which you can launch your own flavor experiments.
Unfortunately, the garnish is where so many brunch places go off the deep end. Like a culinary arms race, it seems like every restaurant is trying to one-up its competitors these days with everything from bacon, shrimp, one of every vegetable ever pickled by man, and even entire cheeseburgers crammed heavy-handedly on top of your drink.
While many of them have gotten attention for their novel creativity, we can't help but think that a Bloody Mary deserves better than to be a vehicle for food.
You don't have to be a purist, but start simple: a stick of celery, a lime wedge or wheel, an olive, or (one of our personal favorites) a pickled green bean all work great in just about any combination. From there, you can play around with your own favorites and find your sweet spot.
Like so many other cocktails, the Bloody Mary's origins are hotly disputed by the various bars and bartenders who claim to have invented it some 90 years ago, but what's important is that the drink we're left with today is something truly unique.
It's unlike just about any other recipe in terms of its complexity and savory profile, but it's surprisingly simple to make—all you need to do is dump your ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a Collins glass.
Cocktail snobs might dismiss it as something of a lesser drink, lacking the subtlety of other classics, but we think the world of great booze shouldn't be limited to spirit-forward tipples. Sometimes, especially after a night of too much champagne and celebration, all you really want is something tasty to take the edge off. The Bloody Mary does that with aplomb.