Classic Bloody Mary

Put that bottled Bloody Mary mix back on the grocery store shelf! This homemade version couldn't be simpler.

Bloody Mary
Photo:

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Active Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins
Servings:
4

When you think of a Bloody Mary, chances are you picture being served a pint with your Eggs Benedict when out to brunch. Or if you’ve made them at home, you’ve likely used a bottle of premade mix from the grocery or liquor store as the base. 

But if you’ve never batched up some Bloody Marys from scratch, you’ll be shocked by how quick and easy it is to make everyone’s favorite brunch cocktail at home. All you need is vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, horseradish, and a few other basic ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and pantry. In about five minutes, it will be time for the best part of making a Bloody Mary: getting creative with your garnish game. Cheers!

Why Is It Called a Bloody Mary?

While answers to this question vary, the most likely is that the blood-red cocktail was named for Queen Mary Tudor’s violent reign over England. 

As for who created the ever-popular vodka-tomato cocktail, there’s also some argument on that front. But the inventor is widely believed to be bartender Fernand Petiot from the iconic Harry’s Bar in Paris, who in 1921 published a Bloody Mary recipe in Harry’s ABC of Cocktails. That means the popularity of this storied cocktail has endured for over a hundred years.

What Alcohol Is in a Bloody Mary?

Although there are several other alcohols that can be substituted, if it’s not made with vodka, it’s not a true Bloody Mary. 

Swap in tequila for a Bloody Maria, or gin to make it a Red Snapper. There are even variations with aquavit or bourbon.

bloody mary

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Bloody Mary Ingredients

Our recipe stays true to the ingredients of the 1920s original: The base is vodka and plain tomato juice. Worcestershire sauce gives the mixture complex savory flavor, horseradish adds heat, black pepper adds a piney punch, and the bright, tart flavor of fresh lemon juice brings it all together. Hot sauce and celery salt (or seafood seasoning like Old Bay) are optional spicy add-ins.

This Classic Bloody Mary includes the most essential ingredients—all of which are easy to find in the grocery and liquor store—to give you a crowd-pleasing base everyone will love. From there, it’s easy to customize to individual tastes.

How To Make a Bloody Mary

Frankly, making a Bloody Mary couldn't be simpler. It's a great cocktail to make in batches because it doesn't require any ingredients that will fall flat with time, like Champagne.

In a pitcher, combine the tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, and a couple pinches of black pepper. If desired, add a few dashes of hot sauce and a couple pinches of celery salt or Old Bay seasoning to taste; stir well to combine. Then, garnish as you see fit.

Bloody Mary Garnishes

As delicious as a “Bloody” is on its own, the real fun comes with all the different options for garnishes—and the possibilities are practically endless.

Garnishing your glasses with a stalk of celery and a few green olives is great. But if you’re serving a crowd for brunch, tailgating, or another group get-together, consider setting up a Bloody Mary bar with creative garnishes. (This is a good opportunity to use up those miscellaneous jars lingering at the back of the fridge.) 

Think pickled veggies like classic cucumber spears, okra, cornichons, carrots, beets, or cocktail onions. Plain green or black olives are delicious, or opt for fancier types stuffed with pimento or blue cheese, almonds, or garlic. Top your glasses with lemon or lime wheels. Add colorful sprigs of fresh dill, parsley, or basil. 

Want to gild the lily? Add decadent crispy bacon pieces, skewers of cubed cheese, or cooked shrimp. Set everything out on small bowls, and let your friends and family create their own perfectly customized cocktails. 

bloody mary

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Ingredients

  • 3 cups tomato juice

  • 1 cup vodka

  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 Tbsp. prepared horseradish

  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (plus a wedge for rimming glasses, optional)

  • Ground black pepper

  • Hot sauce (optional)

  • Celery salt or Old Bay seasoning for sprinkling and rimming glasses (optional)

  • Ice

  • Celery stalks and/or green olives, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. In a pitcher, combine the tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, and a couple pinches of black pepper. If desired, add a few dashes of hot sauce and a couple pinches of celery salt or Old Bay seasoning to taste; stir well to combine. 

    bloody mary in pitcher

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

  2. To rim glasses with a seasoning mix (optional), sprinkle some celery salt or Old Bay on a small plate. Wet the rims of four pint glasses by rubbing the lemon wedge along the rims. Then place a glass, rim-side down, on the plate and rotate until the rim is coated with the seasoning. Repeat with remaining glasses.

    rimming bloody mary glass

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  3. Fill glasses with ice. Divide mixture between glasses. Garnish each glass with a celery stalk and/or olives, if desired.

    bloody mary

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

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