How to Make a Bloody Mary
An exceptional bloody mary recipe is mostly in the mix—mostly. Making a great mix takes practice and lots of tinkering, and it's largely just a long list of personal preferences (I love horseradish; you hate horseradish). But it allows you to put your own personal touch on the drink and wow your brunch guests with your personal secret recipe.
Of course, not everybody has the time (or the morning-after motivation) to concoct a bloody mary entirely from scratch. Which is why we're also outlining how to make a bloody mary with pre-bought mix that still elicits oohs and ahhs from those sipping it. The secret: infused vodka.
Behold: the only two bloody mary recipes you'll ever need, plus tips for how to personalize them even more. Think of us as your choose-your-own-adventure guides into the world of bloody mary making: we provide the structure, but the ending is totally up to you.
How to Make a Bloody Mary (Homemade Mix Version)
What you need:
1.5 oz. (or one jigger) of vodka
3 oz. tomato juice
0.25 oz. fresh lemon or lime juice (or a combination)
2–4 dashes worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tobasco sauce OR 1 tsp. fresh-grated horseradish (or try both if you like a really spicy bloody mary)
Cracked pepper (to taste)
What you do:
Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake, then strain into a highball glass. For a classic bloody mary touch, garnish with a lime wedge or celery stalk.
Tips for Making it Your Own
Try a different spirit: Plain, unflavored vodka is the standard, but nothing says you can't try a flavored vodka (see below) or an entirely different spirit like gin or tequila.
Go crazy with garnishes: Take a cue from those crazy bloody mary photos on everyone's Pinterest board and get creative with how you dress your drink. Swap the celery stalk for a pickle spear or a salami stick, add some stuffed olives or shrimp—as a general rule, if it fits on a skewer or can be used as a stirring apparatus, it's a totally logical bloody mary addition. This is also an excellent time to clean our your fridge. Go wild.
Raid the spice rack: Smoked paprika, garlic and/or celery salt, and chili powder would all make excellent additions to the mix. Experiment to find a combination you like best.
How to Make a Bloody Mary (Infused Vodka Version aka The Hungover Overachiever's Version)
Let's face it: most of the time when we're reaching for a bloody mary, it is with a heaping helping of bleary-eyed regret over the events of the night before. And the last thing we want to do is well anything involving the term "freshly grated."
Luckily, with a little advanced planning, you can make a bloody mary that will still knock the socks off of any guest who crashed on your sofa or in your bathtub. How? Simple—by keeping some infused vodka on hand.
What you need:
750 mL bottle of your favorite vodka
5–7 stalks of celery, chopped to fit into the bottle you're using (we recommend a large mason jar)
3–5 garlic cloves, gently smashed with the skins removed
3–5 stalks of fresh dill
1/2 tbsp. of whole black peppercorns
What you do:
Add all ingredients to a large jar, and fill with vodka. Shake twice a day, every day, and store in a cool, dry, dark place like a cabinet for at least 4–5 days.
After about 5–7 days, when the celery has lots most of its color, it's likely as tapped of flavor as it'll get. Strain the stuff out and pour the vodka back into its bottle or just pour it straight into the glass over ice before stirring some store-bought mix in.
Tips for Making it Your Own:
For an extra spicy bloody mary: Try adding in some jalapeños or other peppers, but wait until the final day of the infusion to add them—the spiciness of the pepper is absorbed quickly into alcohol and can rapidly become overpowering.
Vary your veggies: Celery stalks provide a nice, subtle vegetal flavor, but when have you ever used "subtle" to describe a bloody mary? Throw in some carrots or sliced red bell peppers for a richer flavor, or send your infused vodka over the top by making a pickle-infused vodka.
Add bacon: No really. There are tons of recipes out there for bacon-infused vodka, and we're willing to bet that stuff would be killer in a bloody mary. Just be sure to follow that recipe's instructions to the letter—you probably don't want bacon sitting inside your booze for 4 days, is what we're saying.