Bloody Mary Variations: Looking Beyond Vodka for This Brunch Classic

June 27, 2020

One of the most divisive brunch drinks out there, the Bloody Mary is traditionally a blend of tomato, Worcestershire sauce, spices, citrus, vodka and, often, an excessively over-the-top garnish. But for the fans, there are plenty of things to love about Bloody Marys. For one thing, the drink can be easily altered at every level for specific tastes. In fact the simplest way to change up the drink’s flavor is through its base spirit. Vodka does little beyond adding some alcohol heat to flavor your mix—unless you’re using a flavored vodka, that is. But Bloody Mary variations using alternative spirits give this tomato-based drink a whole new dose of depth and complexity.

Ready to try your hand at Bloody Mary variations? Here are a few unusual, delicious spirits to try with your favorite Bloody mix.

Blanco Tequila

When it comes to Bloody Mary variations, many have discovered the Bloody Maria, its tequila-based cousin. Rather than adding empty heat and booze to this brunch classic, tequila instead provides complementary flavors. There’s a sweetness to the tomato juice that’s echoed by the agave, as well as some earthy, peppery flavors that create dimension in the drink. To make the tequila’s flavor stand out even more, add a squeeze of lime. It will similarly add acidity that cuts through the heaviness of the Bloody mix.

Bottles to try: El Jimador Blanco Tequila, Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila, Espolón Blanco Tequila


Enhanced with a variety of botanicals, gin provides additional savory structure to a Bloody Mary. This combination is often referred to as a Red Snapper, by the way. Gins infused with herbaceous elements like rosemary, dill, cilantro and other leafy green herbs are particularly nice in concert with the mix of tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce and spices. But if you’re looking for Bloody Mary variations with a bit more of a kick, go for a classic London dry gin. This gin style will exhibit more prominent juniper and pepper flavors.

Bottles to try: Gin Mare, St. George Botanivore Gin, Plymouth Gin

Bloody Mary Variations



If you’re not a fan of the obvious juniper flavors in gin, you probably won’t like it in a Bloody Mary any more than you do in a Martini. In its stead, you might consider a caraway or dill-forward aquavit. It will be equally delicious and herbaceous, but will emphasize other spices and herbs that meld nicely with Bloody Mary fixings. Don’t forget to garnish with a squeeze of lemon, which helps those bright herbal flavors pop.

Bottles to try: Svöl Swedish-Style Aquavit, Krogstad Festlig Aquavit, Long Road Original Aquavit

Blended Scotch Whisky

There’s no reason to stick solely with clear spirits for Bloody Mary variations. Case in point: mixing your go-to Bloody mix with blended Scotch whisky. Made with both malt whisky and grain whisky, blended Scotch whisky lends a big, bold backbone to the tomato juice mixture. In fact, it creates an unusually rich and warming version of the brunch drink, with clear notes of charred oak. You may even discover some subtle fruit and spice notes coming through.

Bottles to try: Famous Grouse, J&B Rare, Chivas Regal 12 Year

White Rum

Tomato juice is the hallmark ingredient of the Bloody Mary and its bright, acidic flavor is particularly well complemented by the fresh, often grassy and sugar-flecked flavor of white rum. Because it’s light in flavor—but certainly not flavorless—it blends nicely with other elements often found in the drink, from celery salt to lime juice.

Bottles to try: Copalli White Rum, Flor de Caña Extra Seco, Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum

Ready to try your hand at Bloody Mary variations?

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