The Best Bloody Mary Mix for Every Type of Brunch-Goer
From spicy to pickle-forward, there’s an excellent mix for every morning drinker.
Aside from the week’s hottest gossip, nothing pairs better with a Sunday brunch full of pancakes, eggs, and pastries than the brine and spice of a bloody mary.
The classic cocktail with a tomato juice and vodka base has seen quite a few iterations and ingredient additions since its conception in the early 1900s, but one thing’s for certain: a traditional bloody mary recipe is big on bold, refreshing flavors that make it a perfect hair-of-the-dog hangover remedy after a night of partying (or just an extra spicy start to the weekend).
“Aside from it being one of the few alcoholic beverages that is socially acceptable to drink before noon, part of its appeal is that it’s also customizable,” says world-renowned mixologist Jordan Hughes, also known as the High-Proof Preacher. “You can make or buy mixes that are very simple and savory or you can dial them all the way up to being extra-hot with all kinds of different flavors, spices, and crazy garnishes.”
But if you don’t have the time, effort, energy or desire to create a drink yourself, there are dozens of mainstream bloody mary mixes you can easily purchase at grocery stores or online. Here are six of our all-time favorites, as well as a deep dive into burning bloody mary questions, with answers brought to you by Hughes—the bloody mary master—himself.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Demetri’s Bloody Mary Seasoning
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Spice Flavor: Horseradish, chili, and jalapeño | Volume: 16 oz.
- Extremely versatile—can be used as a marinade or sauce enhancer
- Complex flavors, including jalapeño
- Mixes exceptionally well
- Tomato juice not included
Why we chose it: This may seem like an odd choice for Best Overall, considering it doesn’t contain tomato juice, but it boasts a potent and tongue-tingling blend of 14 all-natural ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, freshly grated horseradish, lemon juice and spices, making it it so much more than your run-of-the-mill bloody mary mix.
We can’t say enough good things about Demetri’s seasoning mix, which can double as a marinade or sauce enhancer. Its flavor is complex, but not overwhelming, thanks to the company’s decision to use mild jalapeño for some of its heat (as opposed to habanero or trendy ghost pepper).
The beauty of these bottles of concentrated seasoning is that they can also be used to customize a bloody to your liking. Incorporating bold additions like Clamato, pickle juice, and even bacon strips won’t compete with the seasoning mix’s award-winning flavor—it will only enhance it.
Best Value: Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
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Spice Flavor: Black and red pepper (Tabasco) | Volume: 32 oz.
- Great price
- Not as sweet as other brands
- Uses actual Tabasco for heat
- Contains MSG, if that is a concern
- A bit one-noted
Why we chose it: Budget-friendly Zing Zang presents a unique, vegetable-forward flavor while also paying homage to bloody’s original recipe with the use of Tabasco.
Zing Zang may not be as bold and zesty as other options on this list, but it’s certainly a reliable and affordable option, especially if you’re concocting cocktails in bulk. Its vegetable-heavy blend includes the juices of carrot, celery, parsley, beet, lettuce, watercress and spinach, making it taste like a healthier alternative to a mix that is strictly tomato. Keep in mind that Amazon’s prices are significantly higher than what you may find in the grocery store. Zing Zang is absolutely the most inexpensive and readily-available choice on this list.
Best All-Natural: LAVA San Marzano Bloody Mary Mix
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Spice Flavor: Cayenne pepper | Volume: 33.8 oz.
- Lower sodium than most varieties
- Zero preservatives and no added sugar
- Tastes the most natural
- Higher quality means higher prices
Why we chose it: We’re not saying that bloody marys can be classified as a health food, but LAVA’s small-batch San Marzano mix will make you believe otherwise.
The heat is perfect, the consistency is not too thick or thin, and the vegan mix boasts a list of ingredients that you can actually feel good about. Not only is LAVA’s artisanal blend the most gourmet-tasting of the bunch (other than McClure’s), but it also arrives in a decorative box so that you can easily gift it to the spice–lover in your life. San Marzano tomatoes are also, bar none, some of the best in the world due to their sweetness and light acidity and are highly regulated by Italy’s strict export standards (which you can read more about on the Greatest Tomatoes from Europe website).
Best Traditional: Collins Classic Bloody Mary Mix
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Spice Flavor: Paprika | Volume: 32 oz.
- A customizable base
- You can taste all of its flavors
- Not as bold and spicy as it could be
- A bit thick
Why we chose it: Collins Classic Bloody Mary Mix is stellar on its own, but also serves as a wonderful base for any amateur mixologist.
For a mainstream brand, Collins’ ingredient quality is quite good, showcasing a mixture of the drink’s traditional components like tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and even celery seed. And despite its lower price point, the product doesn’t taste cheap or watered down. Instead, notes of garlic powder, onion powder and paprika are distinct, but not enough to overwhelm the palate and make the mix taste like anything other than a classic bloody mary. All you need is vodka (or whiskey, gin, or tequila) and you’ve got yourself a standard, albeit delicious drink in practically no time at all. Not spicy enough? Add a few dashes of hot sauce. Not funky enough? Throw in a few blue cheese-stuffed olives. It can handle anything you want to zhuzh it up with.
Best Spice: Gary’s Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
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Spice Flavor: Horseradish | Volume: 32 oz.
- Smooth, velvety texture
- Perfect heat level
- Packaged extremely well if ordered online
- May be too full-bodied for some drinkers
- A lot of preservatives
Why we chose it: It’s not the hottest bloody mary mix in the world, but the spice is beautifully balanced, merely kissing the back of the tongue as it works its way down.
If Goldilocks was of legal drinking age and swapping porridge for bloody marys, she’d say this one was just right (at least when it comes to spice level). The horseradish-forward mixture is exactly what spice-lovers crave—tingly and tangy, but not so overwhelming drinkers have to reach for a glass of milk. It also has a wonderful silky, smooth texture. And if the heat level is too intense, you can easily dilute it with a splash of water, lime juice, or—let’s not kid ourselves here—another shot of vodka.
Best Unique Flavor: McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix
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Spice Flavor: Fresh peppers and black pepper | Volume: 32 oz.
- Only natural ingredients, including fresh dill
- Packaged in environmentally friendly glass jar
- Unique and exciting flavor
- Pickle flavor is extremely polarizing
- Separation occurs easily
Why we chose it: Pickle royalty McClure’s has ventured into the world of bloody marys with a cucumber-forward jarred mix that is more than deserving of a spot on your bar cart.
This was one of our favorites of the bunch, with the caveat you have to really enjoy pickles before giving it an official seal of approval. In fact, if you are even remotely turned off by the taste of cucumber, this won’t be the drink for you. The recipe is also quite garlicky (which can be off-putting for some), but we found it to be a fantastic accompaniment to savory dishes like sausage and egg breakfast sandwiches and cheese-filled crepes. Needless to say, its taste surprised us most, but in the best way possible, earning a permanent spot in our list of go-to mixes.
How We Chose These Products
There are dozens of bloody mary mixes on the market, and narrowing your focus can be quite the difficult feat. We polled a handful of industry experts for their list of favorites, ordered the selections, and taste-tested them ourselves. Since no two bloody mary mixes are the same, we wanted to provide a range of options with characteristics like price point, brand reputation, flavor, heat level, and overall quality in mind. All bloody mary mixes were paired with vodka to honor tradition and authenticity.
Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping for a Bloody Mary Mix
Unopened bloody mary mixes will retain their quality for up to a year (make sure to keep an eye on the expiration date). Upon opening, the average mix can be refrigerated for around three to four weeks. If the blend lacks preservatives, you should enjoy it within two weeks to be safe.
Most bloody mary mix bottles are 32 ounces, which will yield approximately eight cocktails when mixed with vodka or your spirit of choice.
Special Ingredients & Flavors
Many products (like McClure’s) are not afraid to offer creative iterations of the timeless classic. Be sure to read bloody mary mix labels carefully to identify the addition of ingredients like clam juice, pickle brine, olive juice, and exotic peppers.
Ask the Expert
We sat down with Jordan Hughes, otherwise known as the High-Proof Preacher, to have him answer your burning bloody mary questions. Here are his responses:
Q: How can I make a Bloody Mary mix even better?
“The usual ‘upgrade’ to bloody mary mix is experimenting with the spice. Adding Tabasco sauce is pretty common, so you can easily change things up by trying a fancier or more unique hot sauce. Your local farmer’s market likely has some great local hot sauce producers, so that’s a good place to start! You can also incorporate fresh peppers, like serrano or habanero into your mix.”
Q: What do I garnish bloody mary with?
“This is quite possibly the funnest part of a bloody mary because you can truly go wild with it. Your typical garnishes include pickled asparagus, pickled beets, stuffed olives, celery, and a lemon or lime wedge. Rimming the glass with some everything bagel seasoning is also a delicious finishing touch. You can certainly just serve a bloody mary with a stalk of celery as the only garnish or a skewered olive, but personally, I always find that a bit disappointing. A bloody mary is one of few cocktails where it’s acceptable and even expected to be a bit outrageous with the garnish. So have fun with it! I’ve been served a bloody mary that was garnished with an entire fried chicken leg hanging off the side of the glass. I’ve also heard of several places that garnish their bloodies with whole beef sliders!”
Q: Can a bloody mary mix go bad?
“Yes! Definitely keep your mix tightly sealed or stored in a resealable container in the fridge. Fresh is always best flavor-wise, but it should keep nicely for around two weeks. Many store-bought varieties with preservatives can last around three to four weeks, but I just wouldn’t risk it for much longer than that.”
Q: Is bloody mary mix healthy?
“I would never refer to any cocktail as ‘healthy,’ simply because anything that contains alcohol is not exactly good for your overall health. But if we’re just talking about homemade or all-natural bloody mary mix here, then sure! When you think about it, most of the base ingredients like tomato juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and so on are pretty healthy. Tomato juice provides a ton of nutrients, because juicing a tomato allows your body to more fully absorb those nutrients versus simply consuming raw tomatoes.”
Q: What other liquor can I put in bloody mary besides vodka?
“Well you can try making bloody mary’s sister, the bloody molly, by swapping out the vodka for an Irish whiskey like Tullamore D.E.W. I’m not sure if it has a name, but I have tried a bloody mary with tequila reposado and it was absolutely delicious.
Another favorite is the michelada, which is essentially a bloody mary made with lime juice and Mexican lager.
Personally, I really enjoy a bloody mary made with a Scandinavian spirit called aquavit. Aquavit is basically ‘Nordic gin’ and is typically characterized by strong flavors and aromas of anise, caraway, and dill, among other botanicals. It’s incredibly savory on its own and all of those flavors just go so well in a bloody mary. There are a variety of great brands of aquavit available now, but one called Krogstad Aquavit is probably the most widely accessible.”
When it comes to taste, your bloody mary drinking experience is entirely subjective. There are certain flavors and heat levels that one may prioritize over another, which is precisely what makes bloody mary customization so fun (and so necessary!). Regardless of your preference, there is guaranteed to be a new favorite mix on this list. Now clear your schedule for a bloody mary-filled brunch and start mixing.
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