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.

46 thoughts on “The Perfect Bloody Mary

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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!

    • 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.)

  3. 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. :)

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

  4. 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 :-)

    • 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!

  5. 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. :-)

    • 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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!

  8. 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!

    • 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.

  9. 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

    • 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.

  10. 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!

    • 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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