From classic to creative: 3 recipes that celebrate the Bloody Mary in all its glory

A new book offers dozens of nourishing variations on this traditional pick-me-up, while never straying from its spicy red roots

Variety is the spice of life and if you want to think outside the Bloody Mary box, a new book has all the best cocktail recipes for breakfast, brunch and beyond. The Bloody Mary: The Lore And Legend Of A Cocktail Classic, is filled with dozens of renditions of this soupy, spicy red drink that pushes boundaries, while staying true to its roots. "Cocktail fashions come and go, but the nourishing charm of a Bloody Mary endures," opines author Brian Bartels, who has more than 20 years' experience behind the bar.

A classic Bloody Mary contains the following ingredients: tomato juice, vodka, spices and seasonings. It often includes Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, black pepper, celery salt and a curveball ingredient that's generally left up to the creator. "As with any well-made cocktail, a Bloody Mary should be balanced, but that curveball ingredient should also make the drink fun, inspiring good-to-the-last-drop smiles," says Bartels. Along with some suggested vodkas, here are three of our favourites recipes… but don't feel like you have to wait until the morning after to spice things up.

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1. The 'original' Bloody Mary

By Old Mr. Boston's De Luxe Official Bartender’' Guide, 1953.

(Eric Medsker/PA)

Around the end of Prohibition, tomato juice become available and vodka increasingly popular. Pairing the two seems such an afterthought today, doesn't it? This recipe celebrates the tomato juice cocktail and how vodka decided to crash the party.

Ingredients: 45ml vodka, 45ml tomato juice, 1 dash freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Method: Combine all of the ingredients in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir until chilled and serve.

2. Classic Bloody Caesar

By Walter Chell, Westin Hotel, Calgary, Canada, 1969.

(Eric Medsker/PA)

In the late 1960s, Calgary Westin bar manager Walter Chell was asked to create something special. So he mashed up some clams, mixed their juice with tomato juice and thus embraced the philosophy of 'if it's good enough to eat, it's good enough to drink'.

Ingredients: 45ml vodka, 120ml clamato juice, 1tsp prepared horseradish, 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce, 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper, 1 pinch celery salt, 1 pinch salt.

Method: Combine all of the ingredients, except the garnish, in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Roll the ingredients back and forth with another shaker three times and strain into a rocks or highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a celery stick and serve with the oyster on the half shell atop the glass.

MORE: See all of our recipes here

How to roll: The roll is a gentler method than shaking and slows the ice from melting. Get a shaker with two tins, or two glasses that are large enough to contain the ingredients. Combine all the ingredients in one glass tin and fill with ice. Hold both tins (or glasses) a few centimetres from each other at chest level and pour the drink mixture between the vessels, trying to catch all the liquid. Pour all the ingredients back and forth from one vessel to the other three times. This, in essence, is 'the roll'.

Garnish: Celery stick and freshly shucked oyster on the half shell (optional).

3. Bloody Mary No. 20

By Daniel Trujillo and Gabriel Stulman, Joseph Leonard and Jeffrey’s Grocery, New York, New York.

(Eric Medsker/PA)

"We treat brunch with great respect, privilege and enthusiasm at each of our Happy Cooking Hospitality restaurants. Bloody Mary No. 20 has been steadily holding the brunch fort at Joseph Leonard and Jeffrey's Grocery since we opened their doors, and keeps on scoring big points with the masses."

Ingredients: 60ml vodka,  175ml Pilsner beer and 90ml Bloody Mary No.20 mix made up of 750ml tomato juice, 90ml Worcestershire sauce, 45ml olive brine, 30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1tbsp prepared horseradish, 2tsp black pepper, 1tsp salt, 1tsp celery seeds, 1tsp Sriracha sauce (makes 950ml, or enough for 10 drinks).

Method: Combine the vodka and Bloody Mary mix in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Roll the ingredients back and forth with another shaker three times and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an olive, cornichon and lemon wedge. Serve with a beer shorty.

Garnish: Lemon wedge, cornichon and olive.

And if you want a kick try these vodkas… 

Belevedere Vodka (31Dover/PA)

"People usually look to Belvedere as their vodka of choice for a fantastic Bloody Mary, and they’re not wrong," says Marc Sanders, spokesperson for 31dover, the UK’s leading online drinks vendor. Belvedere is a bit more peppery than your average vodka; white pepper to be exact. It also has a bit more spiciness to it, both of which are perfect for a Bloody Mary.

Chase Smoked Vodka (31Dover/PA)

"However, my personal choice would be Chase Smoked Vodka. The smokiness in this vodka is created/added during the dilution process when smoked water is blended with their single estate base vodka. This savoury, smoky flavour works amazingly well in a Bloody Mary and adds a whole new dimension to the drink. To put it simply, this vodka offers something new to the table that no other vodka can. Really great stuff!"


Extracted from The Bloody Mary: The Lore and Legend of a Cocktail Classic with Recipes for Brunch and Beyond by Brian Bartels is published in hardback by Jacqui Small, priced £14.99.  Photography Eric Medsker.  Available from Amazon.