The Perfect Bloody Mary

An email came to me from Cocktail Builder. I’d signed up for their newsletter because I love their website. You list what you want to make a cocktail with, and then recipes appear!

Today’s email was about the scientific aspects of the perfect bloody Mary. What? I thought I knew everything necessary to make a good Bloody Mary. My son-in-law’s secret? Add the juice of pickled asparagus.

From the email, “According to the American Chemical Society, the Bloody is not only difficult to master but it’s the most complex cocktail in the world.” What???

“It’s a very complicated drink,” said Neil C. Da Costa, Ph.D., an expert on the chemical analysis of flavors at International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. “From the standpoint of flavor chemistry, you’ve got a blend of hundreds of flavor compounds that act on the taste senses. It covers almost the entire range of human taste sensations – sweet, salty, sour and umami or savory – but not bitter.”

Dr. Da Costa lists his insights for making the best Bloody Mary:
1. Make it fresh. Chemically, the Bloody Mary is a “highly unstable” concoction, and the quality tends to deteriorate quickly. (Is anyone else constantly throwing away their zing zang?!)
2. Ice it up. Serve Bloody Marys on ice helps to slow down the chemical reactions involving acids in tomato juice and other ingredients that degrade the taste.
3. Mind your mixes. If you use a cocktail mix, add some fresh ingredients to enhance the flavor and aroma. (Okay, I already do that…)
4. Splurge on the juice. Tomato juice makes up most of the Bloody Mary’s volume, so use high quality juice that has a deep, rich flavor.
5. Economize on the vodka. The intense, spicy flavor of a Bloody Mary masks the vodka, and using premium vodka makes little sense.

I also finally figured out that more than one Bloody Mary are spelled Bloody Marys!!!

The Perfect Bloody Mary

2 ounces vodka
4 ounces freshly squeezed tomato juice
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge
2 dashes tabasco sauce
2 tsp prepared horseradish
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch celery salt, plus more to rim glass
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 pinch smoked paprika
Celery stalk and lime wedge, for garnish
Additional garnishes such as green olives, asparagus

Pour some celery salt onto a small plate. Using a lemon or lime wedge, wet the rim of a pint glass and dip it into the salt until it’s fully coated. Fill the glass with ice and set aside.

I made these Bloody Marys in October, when my tomatoes were perfect. I used a cheese grater to get the de-seeded pulp out of the tomatoes, then blended the tomato juice.

In a cocktail shaker, squeeze the lemon and lime wedges and drop them in. Add the remaining ingredients and fill the shaker with ice.

Shake gently and strain into the prepared glass.

Garnish with a celery stalk, a lime wedge, and any other desired garnishes.

I don’t like wet bacon so that has never been a garnish of choice!!!

I also don’t love celery salt, especially by itself, so I used a Bloody Mary rim mix. Hope I didn’t break any rules!

So what do I think about this Bloody Mary? I though it was too “rich” tasting, even though it was basically tomato pulp, so that was surprising. Then I bought some tomato juice, and used the above recipe. Still not perfect to me.

Then I used the exact recipe above, but used a Bloody Mary mix instead of tomato juice. And to me it was perfect. What does that mean? Maybe I like a very well-spiced Bloody Mary.

So, I’ll stick with Bloody Mary mix. I Sometimes buy a case of Mr. & Mrs. T in 5.5 ounce cans. Each can is perfect for one Bloody Mary, and you don’t have to discard a larger bottle of mix when it becomes unstable.

But to the Mr. & Mrs. T mix, I also add pickled asparagus juice. Try it and see what you think!

Zing zang lovers? They offer a case of 8 ounce cans.

By Published On: January 29th, 202146 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

46 Comments

  1. bernlag January 29, 2021 at 6:14 AM - Reply

    A good recipe. I live in New Jersey. Our state grows the most amazing tomatoes. In August I make Bloody Mary mix for the winter. It is a special treat to get one of these drinks from em due to the work. Very special friends get a bottle of the mix with some vodka for a Christmas present.

    • chef mimi January 29, 2021 at 7:15 AM - Reply

      Nice! I’ve heard about those New Jersey tomatoes! And what a fabulous gift! You should do a post on your Bloody Mary mix!

      • bernlag January 29, 2021 at 7:34 AM

        I will maybe next summer when the tomatoes come in. Thanks.

  2. angiesrecipes January 29, 2021 at 7:38 AM - Reply

    You have me want to have a sip too. It must have been more than a decade since I last had a cocktail.

    • chef mimi January 29, 2021 at 7:46 AM - Reply

      Oh really? I’m more of a wine drinker, but are a few drinks I enjoy, like a Bloody Mary!

  3. David Scott Allen January 29, 2021 at 8:10 AM - Reply

    I haven’t had a Moody Mary since college – and since you and I are “of a certain age,” you know how long ago that was. This makes me want to have one. I love all the experimenting you did to give us the best options. I do want to try one with fresh tomatoes, though.

    • chef mimi January 29, 2021 at 8:13 AM - Reply

      It’s worth a try, for sure, with the fresh tomatoes, and it was interesting to make all of the drinks. Unlike most people, I don’t like zing zang because of the coarse pepper in the mix. If you haven’t had one since college you may not be aware of zing zang! (And always feel good that although we are “of a certain age” I am one year older than you 🤣) I never have more than two bloody Marys – they’re quite heavy – and that’s over a couple of hours, but I do love them at brunch time!

  4. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen January 29, 2021 at 8:40 AM - Reply

    Love the addition of the smoked paprika here!

    • chef mimi January 29, 2021 at 9:05 AM - Reply

      It was a really fun experiment!

  5. cookingwithauntjuju.com January 29, 2021 at 11:07 AM - Reply

    I love a good Bloody Mary so much so that Gene developed a recipe when I had a huge garden. I grew the tomatoes and under his direction made the mix and canned it. https://cookingwithauntjuju.com/2011/12/09/genes-original-bloody-marys/

    I have a few other recipes and one great idea is to make BM ice cubes laced with Tabasco. Thanks for letting us know about the cans – I still like one but don’t want to open a whole bottle!

    • chef mimi January 29, 2021 at 11:34 AM - Reply

      Exactly. And the mixes do become unstable pretty quickly. Can’t wait to check out your link! (I started blogging in 2012, so I missed it.)

  6. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats January 29, 2021 at 4:17 PM - Reply

    I rarely make cocktails, but when I do, Bloody Mary is one that I am most likely to choose. I like your addition of olives and smoked paprika. Never tried pickled asparagus, so will look for it. It sounds interesting. :)

    • chef mimi January 29, 2021 at 5:32 PM - Reply

      The pickled asparagus juice just adds the tang that to me, brightens up the bloody mary.

  7. fran@gdaysouffle.com January 29, 2021 at 9:11 PM - Reply

    I didn’t realize that a Bloody Mary was so complex (according to Dr. DaCosta). Glad you found the Bloody Mary mix to make it easier for you!

    • chef mimi January 30, 2021 at 7:32 AM - Reply

      I thought the scientific approach to a Bloody Mary was interesting, but I like the mix, plus all of the goodies mixed in!

  8. Jeff the Chef January 30, 2021 at 11:55 AM - Reply

    I’ve never been able to get behind a bloody mary, but I have to say, this sounds awfully tempting.

    • chef mimi January 30, 2021 at 1:33 PM - Reply

      Well, it’s still a Bloody Mary, so I wouldn’t bother if I were you!

  9. Jack & Barbra Donachy January 30, 2021 at 1:32 PM - Reply

    Paprika sounds perfect.

    • chef mimi January 30, 2021 at 1:33 PM - Reply

      It was a fun experiment!

  10. Ann Coleman January 30, 2021 at 2:41 PM - Reply

    I’ve never really liked Bloody Marys, but it’s good to have a good recipe for one so I can prepare it for guests who do like it. Thanks!

    • chef mimi January 30, 2021 at 2:44 PM - Reply

      I know a few people who don’t like them either. They’re fun to me at brunch!

  11. Healthy World Cuisine January 30, 2021 at 3:22 PM - Reply

    You have us craving us one right now. Actually a good starter before dinner. Might made a bloody Caesar as I have Clamato juice on hand. Enjoy your weekend!

    • chef mimi January 30, 2021 at 3:50 PM - Reply

      Mmmmmmmm that sounds great!!!

  12. sherry January 30, 2021 at 11:49 PM - Reply

    i love a good strong bloody mary but i’m not sure about an asparagus twirler:-) Interesting about the plural – i would’ve thought it was bloody Mary’s. Considering that a plural can have an apostrophe when the noun is not a ‘real’ word .
    cheers and up your kilt as the saying goes :-)
    sherry

    • chef mimi January 31, 2021 at 7:53 AM - Reply

      I didn’t know that, I thought apostrophes are only for possessives. Live and learn! It’s just the juice in the jar of pickled asparagus. You don’t even have to eat the asparagus, although I like that, too!

  13. neil@neilshealthymeals.com February 1, 2021 at 4:19 AM - Reply

    An entirely appropriate time for me to be reading this recipe Mimi! Last night I was watching a documentary on vodka making on a farm in Cornwall. I’m about to send away for one of their bottles of Vodka. Can’t wait to try this variation. :-)

    • chef mimi February 1, 2021 at 7:04 AM - Reply

      Oh interesting! Vodka from Cornwall. Well like the recipe said, don’t use any fancy vodka. But very cool to help out a British business!

  14. Eva Taylor February 1, 2021 at 4:50 AM - Reply

    Used to be one of my favourite cocktails, now I can’t drink it because tomatoes have too much acidity and I can’t take it. Love the idea of using the fresh pulp but then again the ready made mix sounds too easy to overlook.

    • chef mimi February 4, 2021 at 2:25 PM - Reply

      Oh, that is too bad. I’d really miss tomatoes. And bloody Marys are so perfect for a brunch!

  15. thatskinnychickcanbake February 2, 2021 at 11:08 AM - Reply

    Oooh, now I’m dying to have friends over for brunch so I can serve these. LOVE all the tips—I had no idea it was such a challenge to make a perfect Bloody Mary! Pinning!

    • chef mimi February 2, 2021 at 4:15 PM - Reply

      Thanks. I though it was so interesting! But really, you should just make them how you like them!

  16. Raymund February 2, 2021 at 4:07 PM - Reply

    Definitely love this, I usually have them when I had a long night and a hang over.

    • chef mimi February 2, 2021 at 4:15 PM - Reply

      Oh! Great idea! Although I’d just have one anyway. I really haven’t gotten a hangover in many years. Thankfully.

  17. Linger February 2, 2021 at 7:20 PM - Reply

    Hi Mimi. A Bloody Mary is my all time favorite brunch cocktail. But I had no idea it is one of the most complicated cocktails in the world. I always use tabasco and Worcestershire sauce but the horseradish sauce and the smoked paprika are new to me. I can’t wait to try these. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • chef mimi February 2, 2021 at 8:50 PM - Reply

      Well I certainly don’t think it HAS to be complicated, but I loved the scientific aspect of dissecting the cocktail. I always use Tabasco as well!

  18. 2 Sisters Recipes by Anna and Liz February 2, 2021 at 9:28 PM - Reply

    Your Bloody Mary looks and sounds delicious! Great recipe!

    • chef mimi February 3, 2021 at 7:40 AM - Reply

      It was fun experimenting with everything!

  19. kitchenriffs February 3, 2021 at 9:49 AM - Reply

    I haven’t had a Bloody Mary in years! Not one of my favorites,but nice if you HAVE to have a drink at 11 in the morning! (I can’t imagine drinking one as a predinner drink, which is how I most often enjoy a cocktail.) Really fun post — I learned about Zing Zang, which I had never heard of (had to Google it). Thanks!

    • chef mimi February 3, 2021 at 11:10 AM - Reply

      Zing Zang is really popular, but personally I don’t like it because it has coarse pepper in it. And yes, it’s an 11 AM drink for me as well, plus every time I go to the airport! Haven’t been there in a while.

  20. sippitysup February 3, 2021 at 6:50 PM - Reply

    I agree with the “splurge on the juice” concept and I’m glad you made your own. The umami factor can’t be beat with handmade juice. Umami ingredients boost flavor. When thinking about umami and cocktails, the perfect example for me is a Bloody Mary made with the juice of roasted tomatoes. You should give it a try. It’s a bit out there but the additional umami makes things taste more intense, more rounded, more complete. They satisfy the soul. GREG

    • chef mimi February 3, 2021 at 7:04 PM - Reply

      Oh, roasted tomatoes? Wow. Great idea. Thanks! I love anything soul satisfying!!!

  21. Molly Pisula February 4, 2021 at 4:42 AM - Reply

    I love Bloody Marys! Have never made them with fresh juice, but maybe from your post, I don’t need to? Love the idea of a little pickled asparagus juice in there!

    • chef mimi February 4, 2021 at 7:20 AM - Reply

      You could try it. someone did recommend the juice from pureed roasted tomatoes. I’m good with the plain mix, and zazzing it up! The pickled asparagus jus is a must for me.

  22. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons February 13, 2021 at 10:33 AM - Reply

    The spicy tomato juice, Mrs. T, is usually my drink of choice on an airplane (or was when I was flying). And I am with you on celery salt or celery seeds, they are not my favorite although i am fine with fresh celery. Thanks for the interesting and fun post.

  23. Roz March 2, 2021 at 5:22 AM - Reply

    I never knew that Bloody Marys were so complicated! But I enjoyed reading all of the information and tips. I’ll certainly use them when I make my next batch. I wish I could have a bunch of friends over to enjoy your recipe . . . and thanks for letting us know about the mix that you use! Pinned!

    • chef mimi March 2, 2021 at 6:58 AM - Reply

      I guess they’re only complicated from a chemist’s point of view, but I still think you should just make them to your liking!

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