The Bloody Mary: more than just a cocktail, it’s a brunch icon, a hangover cure, and a topic of culinary debate all rolled into one.
Luxuriant tomato juice blends with a symphony of spices and seasonings, ranging from the essential Worcestershire sauce to bolder additions like horseradish and pickle juice, all rounded off with a shot or two of vodka. It’s no surprise that the cocktail has been a mainstay since its creation, reportedly in the 1920s by a French bartender in Paris who worked at the same bar frequented by Ernest Hemingway.
Why are Bloody Marys so beloved? Their incredible customizability is certainly a key factor. Anyone can tailor the drink to their exact specifications – be it spice level, seasonings, or a mountain of garnishes that double up as a meal on its own – creating a personalized experience every time you indulge.
What’s more, it’s a slightly more nourishing choice of libation, packed with electrolytes, Vitamins C and B6, and antioxidants such as lycopene from the tomato juice, making it especially appealing in the colder months for an immune system boost.
Feeling inspired to mix up your own spin on this classic cocktail? Beyond the traditional recipe, there’s a wide array of delightful variations to explore, experimenting with different spirits, seasonings, and mixers. Here are five of our favorite twists:
The Bloody Caesar, revered as Canada’s national cocktail, is a staple throughout the country. This unique drink is said to have been inspired by spaghetti vongole (spaghetti with clams), combining vodka with clam-infused tomato juice – or Clamato if you like – for a thinner, more savory version than traditional recipes. While the idea of adding salty clam brine might seem unusual, it introduces a delightful umami taste that harmonizes wonderfully with the drink’s other flavors.
Ole! Swap vodka for tequila or mezcal to give your cocktail a distinct Mexican flair with the Bloody Maria. Kick things up a notch with lime juice and generous dashes of your preferred hot sauce, then garnish with South-of-the-border inspirations like charred jalapeño or pickled red onion. To really embrace the theme, craft your own tomato mix with tomatillos, a Mexican-native cousin of the tomato. Blend these vibrant green vegetables with cucumber, garlic, jalapeño, and other ingredients to craft a visually striking and flavorful Green (or Verde) Marial.
Also known as the Bloody Bulldog, this tipple is known for its botanical twist from gin. It’s said to have originated at the iconic King Cole Bar in St. Regis New York. Quickly becoming a favorite, even surpassing the classic Bloody Mary, it garnered a following among the bar’s most renowned and glamorous patrons. Enhance its flavor profile by adding horseradish and a substantial wedge of lemon for some extra kick.
The Michelada, Mexico’s twist on the bold, tomato-based classic, is a refreshing, carbonated delight. Instead of traditional spirits like vodka, gin, or tequila, it’s based on a crisp, cold lager beer – ideally a Mexican brand like Corona or Modelo. Add a generous pour of tomato juice or, for a Canadian twist, Clamato. The Michelada’s signature feature is its eye-catching rim, achieved by rolling it in chamoy, a unique Mexican condiment made from pickled fruits with a complex flavor profile that blends sweet, sour, salty, and spicy notes. To really master this recipe, don’t skip the chamoy rim!
Last but not least, the Bunny Mary offers a modern, nutrient-rich twist on the classic Bloody Mary. It substitutes tomato juice with carrot juice, paired with your choice of spices and seasonings, for a sweeter version of this traditional cocktail. Garnish with a sprig of parsley to enhance its “fresh from the garden” carrot appeal.