Michelle's Ultimate Bloody Mary

While the origin of the Bloody Mary is a bit unclear, most accounts give credit to Fernand Petiot for creating this American classic.

While bartending at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in the 20's, Fernand mixed equal parts vodka with tomato juice, took the recommendation of a patron and called it "Bloody Mary". The patron said it reminded him of the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago and a girl there named Mary.

I'm so happy the story did not end there - not only was that tale boring, so was the drink. In 1934 Fernand came to the King Cole Bar in NYC and he added spicy ingredients kicking this drink up to the version most of us know and love today.

And I do love this drink - especially with brunch. However, two features are critical for me. Consistency - I cannot take a second sip if it's too thick like soup or ketchup. I do not drink those and adding vodka will not change that. The second feature is aggressive and complex layers of spice.

There are a few ways to thin a tomato juice drink apart from the obvious one of adding more vodka than the recipe calls for. You can do that but pace yourself - we are talking brunch here.

I never start with plain tomato juice. Using a Bloody Mary mix or veggie juice mix like V8 is half the consistency battle plus it adds more flavor. The other half is lots of fresh citrus juice - I like using both lemon and lime. 

Regarding spice, less is definitely not more in my opinion.  I take a everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach here and add practically everything I have on hand. With that said, there are two ingredients I must have on hand - Worcestershire and fresh prepared horseradish. If I don't have those, I don't make this drink.

Michelle's Ultimate Bloody Mary - A Generous Pitcher


  • 2 cups vodka
  • 3 cups Bloody Mary mix 
  • Juice of 2 lemons plus 1 cut into wedges
  • Juice of 2 limes plus 1 cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • generous amount of fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1-3 dashes of hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
  • garnish - celery stalk, lime wedges, olives, or cocktail onions

Muddle lemon wedges, lime wedges, horseradish, jalapeno and celery salt in the bottom of a pitcher. Add vodka, Bloody Mary mix, juice, Worcestershire and stir to combine. Add black pepper and hot pepper sauce to taste. Pour into glasses over ice, garnish and serve.

Cheers! Here's to a Happy Easter brunch!