No weekend brunch is complete without a Bloody Mary (or four). The combination of tomato juice, various spices, hot sauce, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and a few healthy glugs of vodka almost seems like a healthy way to wash down your sausage and biscuits. The thing we enjoy most about the cocktail isn’t just the fact that many brunch restaurants have bottomless Bloody Marys, but how very adaptable the drink is.
Depending on where you purchase a Bloody Mary, the recipe will undoubtedly be different. Creativity is the keyword when it comes to the cocktail — as ingredients are swapped in an out and slices of thick cut bacon, slices of pizza, and even whole burgers are added to some mutant versions as “garnish.”
Even when it borders on the absurd, we love the Bloody Mary and so do bartenders. That’s why we asked a few of our favorites to tell us their go-to vodkas (the most important ingredient) when mixing up their own house recipes.
Greenbar TRU Garden Organic Vodka
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In 2008, you guys asked us what it truly meant to make organic spirits. Other than great flavor, we knew it meant cleaner soil, water, air. Then we started planting trees. We’re celebrating Earth Month — and 11 years going organic — with the vodka that started our sustainability — Greenbar TRU. Some of your favorite restaurants in Calif. are now serving Greenbar TRU cocktails, where 1 cocktail = 1 tree. That's an equation we can all get behind.
Nikki McCutcheon, beverage director at Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge in New York City
Greenbar TRU Garden Organic Vodka! It’s a quality product for a great price. The vodka is herb-infused with nine botanicals that compliment all the garden vegetable flavors in a Bloody Mary.
CH Peppercorn Vodka
Jack Galobich, bartender at The Gage in Chicago
CH Distillery in Chicago’s south side makes a stellar Peppercorn Vodka using tellicherry peppercorns from western India. Any other vodka is just going to get lost, this one has some personality and genuinely adds something to round out the cocktail.
Ketel One Vodka
Joshua MacGregor, mixologist at db bistro modern in New York City
My favorite vodka for a Bloody Mary is Ketel One. With its bright clean profile, it highlights ingredients in the glass without clashing or trying to steal the show.
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Some @chopinvodka and a friends homemade mix. Can’t ask for a better Saturday 🥔 • • • • • #bloodymary #bloodymarys #bloodymaryking #bloodymarytime #bloodymaryaddict #bloodymarygram #bloodys #bloodymaryplease #bloodymaryobsessed #bloodymarycocktail #bloodymarysofinstagram #bloodymarylife #potato #potatovodka #chopinvodka #lime #homemade #homemademix #homebartender #saturday
Gabrielle Ricord, lead bartender at Outpost in Goleta, California
My favorite vodka to use in a Bloody Mary would have to be Chopin. Bloody Mary’s are a day drink, and the smoothness of Chopin makes for an easy drink (especially when trying to recover from the previous night). The nice thing about Chopin is it doesn’t disappear in the cocktail, but it’s not too sharp or overbearing.
Belevedere Smogory Forest Single Estate Vodka
Cameron Shaw, head bartender at The Lookup in New York City
I love the Smogory Forest Single Estate vodka from Belvedere. Big, savory, and mineral, it stands up to everything else going on in a Bloody Mary to contribute to the cocktail rather than simply raise the ABV.
St. George Green Chili Vodka
Casey Lyons, lead bartender at Pacific Hideaway in Huntington Beach, California
St. George Green Chili vodka. With Vibrant flavors of poblanos and jalapeño, it can make a delightfully delicious Bloody out of even store-bought mixes.
Breckenridge Chili Chile Vodka
Phil Testa, beverage manager at The Rickey in New York City
I just came across this Breckenridge Chili Chile Vodka – it’s truly delicious. They used Colorado-grown Pueblo Chile that doesn’t just boast heat, it also adds spice, smoke, and other flavors. In terms of Bloody Mary’s, it’s a great addition for that extra kick, almost giving the Bloody Mary a mezcal quality.
Shane Deforest, bar & support manager at The SPOT in San Marcos, Texas
Absolut Peppar, no question. That extra kick will step up any Bloody Mary, Whether you are a “make-it-from-scratch” pro or a simple “just-add-Zing Zing” expert, Absolut Peppar is the way to go.
Josh Cameron, Head Bartender of Boulton & Watt in New York City
Skyy vodka gets a lot of love at night and is often overlooked in brunch land. It deserves a place at the table though. Its smoothness and purity elevate the Bloody Mary, especially alongside the harsh vodkas overused in all things brunch.
Effen Cucumber Vodka
Alyssa Miller, bartender at Hazel, Ravines & Downtown in Birmingham, Michigan
I am personally not the biggest fan of vodka. But give me a Bloody Mary and I will easily drink it. Just throw some cucumber vodka in there, try Effen Cucumber. (This is how we make it at Hazel, Ravines and Downtown, I helped with the recipe on that!) I think it adds a good flair and makes it extra refreshing.
Crop Organic Tomato Vodka
Victoria Levin, director of project management at Blau + Associates in Las Vegas
I really love using natural ingredients like fresh tomato from the farmers market and fun seasonal toppings, all of which mix beautifully with Crop Organic Tomato Vodka which is a fabulous product that is kind to the earth and equally kind to the palate. Sustainable and slurp-able.
Jason Banks, bar manager at Krause’s Cafe and Biergarten in New Braunfels, Texas
My favorite Vodka to make a Bloody Mary with is Reyka Vodka. Reyka relies on pure arctic spring water, lava rock filtration, and sustainable geothermal energy to craft each bottle of its small-batch vodka. The vodka is distilled in one of the world’s few remaining copper Carter-Head stills, which gives the spirit the notably clean and crisp finish that pairs so well with tomato juice.