The 4 keys to making bold and delicious Bloody Marys

Homemade Bacon Spicy Vodka Bloody Mary with Tomatos, Olive and Celery

You, too, can make restaurant-quality Bloody Marys at home. Just follow these steps.

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As Spring blooms to life — and weekend mornings are punctuated by rounds of golf — the Bloody Mary returns as a warm-weather staple enjoyed on and off the course. By now, you’ve likely had enough of them to know what a great Bloody Mary tastes like, though we’re willing to bet you may not be able to put your finger on why some are sensational and others miss the mark.

To get to the heart of a great Bloody Mary (see what we did, there?), we sought advice from a couple of food-and-beverage specialists at different golf resorts. Here, we provide a roadmap to killer Bloody Marys — the kind that will make you fall in love with the classic brunch cocktail all over again.

For the last few years, the Floating Green Restaurant at Coeur d’Alene Resort has served a Bloody Mary made with Demitris Bloody Mary Mix, a product that the restaurant’s front of house manager, Monique Fletcher, says makes a “quick, consistent, and delicious” Bloody Mary. “You can always jazz this up by using fresh citrus,” she adds. “A hearty squeeze of both lemon and lime will brighten the flavors and round out the drink.”

However, starting this season, the restaurant is elevating its game by creating a new Bloody Mary — the Idaho Sasquatch — which features a house-made mix (recipe below). “The flavor is complex,” Fletcher says, “with just enough spice to balance nicely with the fresh lime juice.”

Most notably, the recipe calls for heating ground spices with a mixture of soy and Worcestershire sauces, then adding that concoction to the mixture of tomato juice, lime juice, and grated horseradish. “It breaks down and marries the flavors so that you don’t get that ‘thick’ feeling that some Bloody Marys can have,” Fletcher explains. “It gives the drink a much smoother consistency.”

Coeur d’Alene’s Idaho Sasquatch Bloody Mary

4 oz. tomato juice (preferably Campbell’s)
2 oz. vodka, gin, or tequila
1 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. Worcestershire
.5 oz. soy sauce
1 tsp. grated horseradish
1 tsp. Sasquatch BBQ Fire Citrus Chile Rub
½ tsp. ground ginger

In a small sauce pan or skillet, combine the Worcestershire, soy sauce, BBQ spice blend, and ground ginger. Heat over medium-low, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to steam.

Once the mixture is heated and thoroughly combined, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

As the mixture is cooling, rim a pint glass with coarse salt. Then combine the tomato juice, liquor, lime juice, horseradish, and heated (but now cool) spice mixture in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake vigorously for about five seconds.

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Free pour into the rimmed pint glass and garnish it as you wish.

At Cragun’s Resort in north-central Minnesota, Melissa Kinney, the assistant director of food & beverage, doctors up Tres Agave Bloody Mary mix (recipe below), which she’ll use to construct a variety of Marys, the likes of which include spicy, dill, and smoky variations.

Cragun’s Doctored-Up Bloody Mary mix

1 liter bottle of Tres Agave Bloody Mary mix
2 tbsp. beef consommé
1.5 tbsp. fresh lemon zest
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. crushed peppercons
1 tbsp. celery salt

If you’re visiting Kohler, Wis., this season, you’ll want to make a point of ordering an Herb’s Sunny Mary. The golden-colored cocktail utilizes the resort’s homemade Herb’s Sunny Mary Mix, which blends home-grown Lemon Boy tomatoes with prepared horseradish, hot sauce, lemon juice, celery salt, a mixture of spices, and — interestingly — mustard. The last ingredient adds a distinctive flavor to the mix and produces a Mary (available at all bars and restaurants across the resort) that is both savory and complex.

No matter which Bloody Mary mix you use — even if you choose to stick with one straight from the bottle (if you do, we suggest the new release from Barcoop Bevy, which features smoked sea salt and dried chile peppers)—you can ensure that you end up with a delectable cocktail by adhering to the following advice. Trust us, you’ll want to take these suggestions to heart (sorry, we just can’t help ourselves).

The Benefits of Better Booze

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the assertive character of horseradish, Worcestershire, ginger, and other spicy components will render your alcohol obsolete. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. “Just because a Bloody Mary features a bold mixer, it doesn’t mean the liquor won’t shine through,” she says. “The best thing a home bartender can do is invest in good liquor. It’s advice you should take for any drink you craft at home.”

A Variety of Foundations

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Yes, a standard Bloody Mary is made with vodka, but the fun needn’t stop there. “The great thing about this drink is that it can be made with your favorite spirit, whatever that is,” Fletcher assures. “The liquor will obviously change the flavor profile a bit, but when it comes down to it, your mix should be what’s shining through. And by taking the time to create a robust Bloody Mary mix, you’ll be able to showcase whatever liquor you want.”

In particular, Fletcher likes swapping out the vodka for a Reposado tequila, which she says ramps up the drinks flavor profile. “You get a sweetness from the tequila that rounds out any spice that you’re playing with.”

Shake It Up

Once you have your mix, how you choose to actually mix it with your spirit of choice can make a world of difference. While some drinks are intended to be stirred, a Bloody Mary isn’t one of them. As Fletcher explains, a vigorous shake guarantees that all of the bold flavors marry with the base spirit and that the finished product tastes the way that it should. “It also ensures the drink tastes the same with every sip,” she says.

Garnish Away

Simply put, there are no rules when it comes to garnishes. As proof, here are just a few of the options that often make an appearance on a Bloody Mary bar at Cragun’s Resort: celery stalks, pickled green beans, pepperoncinis, candied bacon, poached shrimp, beef sticks, even fried chicken wings. “I don’t think you can go wrong with the garnishes,” Fletcher opines. “Just do what feels right and tastes good to you.”

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