How to Master the Bloody Mary

Cocktail facts & history / Cocktail ideas / email

Here, at Cocktail Builder, we love experimenting with new ingredients and flavor profiles — both trying something completely unexpected and putting an updated spin on time-tested libations. But in 2018, we’re going back to the basics, focusing our efforts on perfecting the classic cocktails that we all think we know.

Sure, they’ve been around for a long time and it can be easy to believe that you’ve mastered them. But these cocktails are classics for a reason and they take care and finesse to get right. So, once a month we’ll be turning to bartenders, our taste buds, and, yes, even science to determine just what makes the perfectly crafted drink. First up: an International Bartenders Association “Contemporary Classic” and everyone’s favorite Sunday brunch sip, the Bloody Mary.

Now, a Bloody Mary seems easy enough — a little vodka, some tomato juice, a little Tabasco, and you’re done. But according to the American Chemical Society, the Bloody is not only difficult to master but it’s the most complex cocktail in the world.

“It’s a very complicated drink,” explains Neil Da Costa, an expert on chemical analysis at International Flavors & Fragrances. “From the standpoint of flavor chemistry, you’ve got a blend of hundreds of flavor compounds that act on the taste senses. [The Bloody Mary] covers almost the entire range of human taste sensations — sweet, salty, sour, and savory — but not bitter.”

Taking the ingredients from the traditional recipe, Da Costa analyzed them for composition and sensory attributes. Based on his findings, he came up with a number of tips for perfecting the flavor profile of the Bloody Mary while also increasing its health benefits and costing down on cost. These tips including using inexpensive vodka (if made right, the flavor should mask the taste of alcohol), using high-quality tomato juice (ideally freshly squeezed), and using lots of ice (it helps to slow down the chemical reactions involving acids that can degrade the taste).

Keeping those things in mind, here’s the perfect recipe to reference the next time you host brunch at home.


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, and (our personal favorite) bacon, as desired

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. 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.