Three Types of Bloody Mary & How to Make Each One

Three Types of Bloody Mary & How to Make Each One

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The world of bloodys can be a confusing one.

Even the name can't seem to be firmly decided upon. At one restaurant you'll be ordering a bloody, the next the more formal Bloody Mary, but then you see restaurants throw out names like Miss Mary, The Blood, or Bloody Maria. It's a confusing world with strong opinions from all sides about which bloody is best. But that's actually the best part of this, there's no one bloody. It's a drink that adjusts to the one making it, and of course the one sipping it.

We're not believers in there being a "best" bloody mary. The best bloodys are the ones you love, and that's all you need to know. But with so many to chose from, how do you find the unique bloody mary that speaks to your specific taste buds?

We'd like to try and help you find your bloody home, and that requires looking at the different options currently available - while knowing that you can always add a dash of hot sauce, a pinch of pepper, even a brick of bacon to make a bloody mary that will be your staple for all life's brunches.

But before we take on picking the best bloody for you, let's look at the history of what has become one of the world's most popular cocktails.

The Bloody Mary is speculated to be named after Mary Tudor, former heir to the English throne.

Hop in a time machine with us to England in the year 1516, where the name Bloody Mary allegedly comes from. Mary Tudor (name checks out!) was heir to the throne of England, but she was declared an illegitimate heir when her husband Henry VIII divorced her mother. A devout Catholic, Mary watched the Protestant King Henry abuse her mother and mock her Catholic faith. This rage led Mary to proceed to kill hundreds of Protestants in the name of Catholicism during her short life, leaving her with the nickname "Bloody Mary" when she died in 1558.

The Bloody Mary is named after Mary Tudor

A less exciting story suggest the Bloody Mary was named after a server named Mary who worked at a bar called The Bucket Of Blood in Chicago. As that story goes, a patron of the first bar to serve bloodys (which we'll get to) said the red tomato-based drink reminded him of The Bucket of Blood, and requested the bartender name it after the server Mary.

While the truth will be left to history, both of these can also be true. We'll say both women can make the claim to cocktail fame.

The Bloody Mary originated at Harry's Bar in Paris

One of the most famous cocktail bars in the world, Harry's New York Bar is well known by any student of cocktail history. If you're lucky enough to find yourself in Paris' 5th Arrondissement, you have no choice but to stop by for a cocktail at Harry's just as generations of imbibers have gathered - including famous celebrities who enjoyed a tipple from time-to-time like Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart and Rita Hayworth.

Harry's New York Bar in Paris - Home of the Bloody Mary

Let's hop back in that time machine and visit Harry's Bar over 100 years ago, in the Roaring 20's. While prohibition is in full effect in the U.S., the good stuff is still flowing in Europe and young bartender Fernand "Pete" Petiot is enjoing mixing up drinks for U.S. expats seeking familiar American-style bars.

Pete Petiot had the creative juices (see what we did there) to combine two contrasting cultures that arrived on the Parisian doorstep in the 20's.

The first was the Russian influence of vodka. Russians had been escaping the revolution to Paris, and brought the clear stuff with them.

The second influence was American, as those expats brought canned tomato juice with them - at the time called "tomato juice cocktail".

Pete looked at these two ingredients from different continents, and combined them with his own blend of spices, seasoning and lemon juice to create the world's first Bloody Mary.

What seasoning goes into Bloody Marys?

We're eternally curious about what spices Pete put into that initial blend. But we think the unknown is a perfect symbol of the bloodys customizable spirit. You have to know Pete wasn't measuring each grain into those cocktails as thirsty Americans waved him down for another round. There likely was incremental changes to get to Pete's ideal bloody, with Hemingway and the like asking for "a little extra kick" or "more lemon". While it's fun to know where the first bloody was made, and it's likely namesake, the beauty of bloodys will always be that their seasonings are amorphous nature.

Your typical seasoning blend for bloodys will include salt, celery salt, celery seed, black pepper, horseradish. If you're looking for good prepackaged Bloody Mary seasoning, try this one by Demetri's.

Tomato juice is the common ingredient that ties all bloodys together.

While vodka and tomato juice may have started it all, the Bloody Mary has branched off into countless directions over the past 100 years. While ingredients change and are added, the one thing that remains the same is the almighty tomato juice. From that original "tomato juice cocktail", there are dozens of different tomato juice brands that make a strong foundation for Bloody Marys. A few of our favorites are RW Knudsen, Sacramento Tomato Juice, and Dei Fratelli.

You don't have to have one of these brands in your pantry though, just look for a brand that doesn't use concentrates or add water. If you want a thinner Bloody Mary you can add water later, but it's a sign of poor quality if it's already added to the tomato juice.

Do you shake or stir a Bloody Mary?

Neither! The best way to combine ingredients for a Bloody Mary is actually through a technique called rolling. To roll your Bloody Mary, pour it back and forth between two cocktail shakers (or two glasses) until the ingredients are evenly distributed. This results in a silky combination of ingredients without over aerating the cocktail.

There are three main variations on the Bloody Mary

With its tomato juice, spice and vodka foundation the Bloody Mary has splintered into an endless amount of variations. There are bloodys for all types and tastes, doing everything from substituting spirits like whiskey or tequila instead of vodka, and even going as far as removing the tomato juice...which we frankly believe is a level of blasphemy that would make Mary Tudor turn in her gave. 

There are three varieties on the typical bloody that are the most popular, and these include the Bloody Maria, the Red Snapper, and the Bloody Caeser. Beyond that things can get pretty niche, so let's just focus on the big three for now.

Pro Tip: There is no judgement for using good bloody mary mix to save time making any of these bloodys

Here's what's likely to happen when you scroll down to the recipes below. You'll say to yourself, "oh wow this is sounding delicious". Then, you'll get to the recipe and go into an utter panic. Don't! The list of ingredients on from scratch Bloody Mary's is so daunting that, even though they won't tell you, many of the best restaurants in the world use pre bought Bloody Mary mix. If you want to go grab each of these ingredients at the grocery store, that's your perogitive, but we'd encourage you to use bloody mary mix as the base then alter it into any variation of bloody you'd like.

In each of the recipes below we'll provide the recipe for making Bloody Marys from scratch, as well as an abbreviated version if you're using your favorite mix.

If you're looking for a good all purpose Bloody Mary mix to make cocktails at home, try this one from FICKS.

Variation #1: The Bloody Maria

As you may guess for it's the dose of Spanish in its namesake, the Bloody Maria introduces tequila to the classic bloody. And it doesn't have to stop there. While many Bloody Maria's just swap the spirits, we find it more fun to continue adding Mexican flair with hot sauce, muddled jalapenos, or some Tajin around the rim.

To make a Bloody Maria at home, here's what you're going to need.

Bloody Maria Ingredients (Makes 1 Cocktail)

  • 2oz blanco tequila
  • 4oz tomato juice
  • 1oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon horseradish
  • 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes of Cholula sauce
  • 1 pinch celery salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • Garnishes: lime wedge, cucumber spear

Using Bloody Mary Mix?

The only ingredients you'll need are the garnishes, tequila, and Cholula sauce. The rest will generally already be inside mixes of any brand of bloodys.

Our favorite tequila to use in the Bloody Maria: Codigo 1530 Blanco

Codigo 1530 Blanco Tequila for Bloody Maria Cocktail

Fully mature agave aged over 7 years. Unrested, never touching a barrel, so the rich flavor of agave can be fully appreciated.

How to Make a Bloody Maria

  1. Add all ingredients except the garnishes to a cocktail shaker, and roll into another cocktail shaker. Continue rolling back and forth until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  2. Strain into a pint glass filled with ice.
  3. Garnish with lime wedge and cucumber spear. For extra spice, garnish with sliced jalapenos.

Variation #2: The Bloody Caesar

Think of Caesar as Bloody Mary's cousin that lives in Canada. Primarily consumed north of the border, the big difference between the standard bloody and a Bloody Caesar is its addition of clam juice. Yes, it's not for everybody but when in Rome right? Little Caesar humor there...

Bloody Caesar Ingredients (Makes 1 Cocktail)

  • 2oz vodka
  • 4oz Clamato juice
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 1tsp horseradish
  • 1 pinch of black pepper
  • Garnishes: celery salt rim, celery stalk, lemon wedge

Using Bloody Mary Mix?

Except for the vodka and garnishes, everything else can be replaced by the Bloody Mary mix. So you're going to combine the vodka with 3oz Bloody Mary mix and 1oz clam juice.

Our Favorite Vodka to Pair with a Bloody Caesar: Hanger One Vodka

Hanger One Vodka Bottle for Bloody

We find Hanger One vodka to have a medium-long finish that's a grainy sweetness and compliments the savory flavor of Bloody Caesar's well.

How to Make a Bloody Caesar:

  1. Rim a pint glass with celery salt and fill with ice.
  2. Add vodka, Clamato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, horseradish, and black pepper to a cocktail shaker. Roll this back and forth a few times using a second cocktail shaker until ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Pour into the glass and garnish with a celery stalk and lemon wedge. Squeeze the lemon wedge if you want some extra citrus.

Variation #3: The Red Snapper

The Red Snapper is said to be the first U.S. made variation of the Bloody Mary, created at the St. Regis Hotel in New York. What makes this variation stand out is its substitution of gin for vodka. Rejoice, you gin lovers, there's a brunch cocktail specifically for you!

Red Snapper Ingredients (Makes 1 Cocktail)

  • 2oz gin
  • 4oz tomato juice
  • 1/2oz lemon juice
  • 4 dashes hot sauce
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pinches black pepper
  • 2 pinches celery salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Garnishes: celery stalk, lime wedge

Our Favorite Gin to Pair with a Red Snapper: Gray Whale Gin

Gray Whale Gin for Bloody Mary

The Northern California-grown botanicals used in Gray Whale Gin give such a flowery taste to Red Snappers while not overpowering a quality bloody mix or tomato juice.

How to Make a Red Snapper:

  1. Sprinkle the pepper and celery salt onto a plate.
  2. Rub the lime wedge along the lip of a pint glass, and dip the rim into the pepper and celery salt. Fill the glass with ice.
  3. Combine all the ingredients, except the garnishes, into a cocktail shaker and roll the drink using another glass or shaker until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  4. Strain the contents of the cocktail shaker into the prepared pint glass, and garnish with a celery stalk and lime wedge.

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