Get Toasted: The Bloody Mary Essentials

Complexly flavored and with endless variations, the Bloody Mary is the ultimate brunch drink.


I would drink it in my house, I would drink it with a mouse.

It’s also excellent because it can be a beautiful cornucopia of nearly whatever you want, as long as you have these essentials:

1. Tomato juice

You can make your own tomato juice, and if you have perfectly fresh and fragrant tomatoes you will win brunch. Get 3 pounds of chopped ripe tomatoes, 3 stalks of chopped celery, 1 cup of flat parsley coarsely chopped and 2 tsp. sea salt, combine in a food processor, chill in a bowl for an hour and then strain through a medium-fine sieve.

You can also use store-bought juice in the interests of expediency or laziness or not owning a blender, and you will still win brunch. In either case, the key is using the highest-quality materials reasonable or available — even though you’ll be adding a lot of other ingredients, this is your base. (Though if that ends up being the only non-V8 option your grocery store has, I feel you.) On sodium content, follow your heart.

2. Something savory

Worcestershire sauce preferably. You can also add soy sauce, but it’s an addition, not a substitution.

3. Burny hotness

Take however much freshly ground or crushed black pepper you think you want and add a little more.

Then add your hot sauce(s) of choice.

4. High-nose hotness

Horseradish is perfect, but make sure you get the grated kind, not the creamy kind, which has added mayo and is gross. Dijon is a passable substitute in a pinch, or if you really like dijon. (If that’s you, consider adding both dijon and horseradish.) Wasabi is also really good here.

5. An acid

Freshly squeezed lemon or lime, and lots of it. The “freshly squeezed” part is key.

6. Vodka

If you want to get unnecessarily fancy, garlic-infused or pepper vodka will do, but why get unnecessarily fancy? Don’t use swill, but save your best. Aim for a 1:2 ratio of vodka to mix.

7. Ice

The only part of the presentation that is absolutely necessary.

8. Extras and garnishes

Though normally I advocate simplicity, the Bloody Mary is no place for restraint.

To the mix, you can add any or all of: finely minced garlic, clam juice, whole actual clams, pickle juice, olive oil, olive brine, beef bouillon, celery salt or other seasonings. Use any or all to taste.

As a garnish in the glass, you can use olives, pickles, blanched asparagus, a slice of lemon, a slice of lime, carrots with the tops on, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, cocktail onions or basically whatever else you can come up with. Celery is traditional, but also gross.

This One Way To Make A Bloody Mary


  • tomato juice
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • splash of soy sauce
  • black pepper to taste
  • splash or eight of sriracha, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. horseradish
  • 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • vodka
  • ice
  • olives

Building blocks of deliciousness


1. In a pitcher, jar or glass, combine the tomato juice, Worcestershire, soy sauce, black pepper, sriracha, horseradish, garlic and lemon. Stir or shake, and try it. Does it need more hotness? Add pepper. Does it seem a little dull? Add more lemon. If it still seems dull, add more Worcestershire. Is it too intense, hot, spicy, salty? Add more tomato juice and remember it’s going to be diluted by the vodka and ice.

2. When the flavor is to your liking, cover it and stick it in the fridge for an hour. (This isn’t 100% necessary but will make it so much better.)

3. Add between two and half a glass of ice cubes to a glass. Add two parts of the mix to one part vodka, stir lightly, plop in some olives and serve.

I do not own highball glasses.

I do not own highball glasses.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. BLOODY MARYS ARE MY ONE TRUE LOVE. Thank you so much for this how-to! I will use this guide to prepare to impress all my lesbros when we go to ptown for Memorial Day Weekend.

  2. UGHHHH YES I AM ALL ABOUT THIS. Bloody Marys are legit the most amazing brunch drink ever. There is a restaurant in my town that has the best Bloody Mary bar. TONS of premade mixes if that’s your flow, or ingredients for your own-made, customized drink of choice. Last time I was there, I counted about 50 mixes, 20-ish (give or take a couple) kinds of hot sauce, wide variety of other condiments, house made tomato juice, V8, clam juice, clammato juice, AND ALL THE VEGGIES AND SALTY YUMS YOU COULD EVER WANT. I’m sorry, but I am so legit about Bloody Marys, just thinking about that brunch makes me so happy.

  3. Yes! Bloody Marys are my absolutely favorite drink ever. I have been playing around with all kinds of combinations lately.

    It’s like Salsa through a dinner party and a drunk Italian came over and they made sweet babies after too much vodka. :)

    • yes! caesars are where it’s at (esp. in canada) there’s a bar where i live that does a sunday special of poutine+caesars and i’m not sure there’s ever been a more canadian take on a sunday hangover brunch than that

  4. awesome. also, my house heretical deviation from the sanctified design is to use chipotle tabasco sauce for heat & plain salt for savoury instead of worcestershire & sriracha. works like a charm.

  5. I am in constant search of the “Perfect Bloody Mary”..It is an endless and epic journey that has brought me to an array of restaurants, bars…and a few bedrooms.

  6. my dad once ordered a bloody mary at this fancy restaurant for father’s day or something, and it had *candied bacon* in as a garnish. CANDIED BACON you guys. (I’m excited to do drinky brunch for my 21st birthday…….candied bacon…..)

  7. thank you so much, carolyn! i promised myself that this would be the year i switched from mimosas to bloody marys! I’M GOIN’ FOR IT.

  8. Totally agreed on the big stalk of celery being stupid. No thanks.

    Two variations: I know a lot of people who like tequila instead of vodka in their bloodies, but I’ve always preferred gin (because anytime you can use vodka, gin is probably a better choice). Second, ditch the spirit, ice, and garnishes and mix it half and half with cheap beer (Pabst or something similar) to make a Red Eye, which is it’s own delightful thing.

  9. Down here in New Orleans, we add okra, green peas, clams, olives and it is my drink of choice, probably only for the okra.

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