The Bloody Mary: An Essential Brunch Cocktail

When it comes to daytime (read: morning) cocktails, there’s simply no replacing the iconic Bloody Mary. Part booze, part tomato soup, this spicy, filling blend is guaranteed to wake you up…and then maybe put you back to sleep. We rarely brunch without a bloody in hand, and the more garnishes the better! So, without further ado, here’s a basic Bloody Mary recipe to add to your arsenal, along with a slew of excellent variations once you master the original. Bottoms up!

Base Bloody Mary Recipe

Courtesy of the New York Times. Yields 1 drink.


Lemon wedge
Lime wedge
4 oz. tomato juice
2 dashes Tabasco
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of celery salt
Pinch of coarsely ground pepper (pepper too finely ground will bring more heat and less flavor)
¼ teaspoon peeled and freshly shredded horseradish (avoid using prepared horseradish from a jar)
2 oz. vodka (not flavored)
Garnish with a celery stalk, lemon wedge, and freshly ground pepper


– Squeeze lemon and lime wedges into a shaker. Add all other ingredients except vodka, and stir. Taste the mix, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Put the mix in the fridge, and let it sit overnight.
– Pour vodka into the shaker. Add ice cubes, and shake.
– Fill an 8-ounce glass about halfway with ice, and strain the shaker contents over it.

The Variations

THINK SUSHI: Swap wasabi paste or powder in for the horseradish, and replace Worcestershire with a few dashes of soy sauce. Garnish with sushi-style ginger (known as gari) and a piece of sliced cucumber.

EMBRACE THE SEA: Swap Clamato in for the tomato juice. Make a salt rim with coarse salt and Old Bay seasoning by combining the two on the plate. Wipe a cut lemon or lime around the rim of the glass, making sure to go about a ½ inch down the glass, then turn the rim of the glass repeatedly in the salt mixture so it sticks! Garnish with shrimp on a toothpick or skewer.

MAKE IT A BLOODY MARIA: Swap mezcal or tequila in for the vodka and replace Tabasco with Cholula or green tabasco hot sauce. Garnish with a hot pepper, charred, raw, or pickled—it’s up to you!

BE VEGGIE FRIENDLY: Instead of tomato juice, use V8 or another veggie-forward juice. Garnish with crudité (it’s basically a salad, right?).

GET MEATY: Add beef bouillon to the tomato juice mix. Garnish with beef jerky or a beef stick.




Leah Bhabha is a cookbook co-author, recipe tester, and food writer who has written for numerous publications including Food & Wine, Marie-Claire, The Guardian, and Food52. She is a recipe editor at Plated and also chronicles her cooking and eating experiences on her blog, OneHungryPickle.com.


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