Bloody Marys with ABV (Anything but Vodka)

The Bourbon Bloody Mary by Chef Whitney Fontaine. Image courtesy of the chef.

Because sometimes you crave a little more flavor than the so-called neutral spirit provides.

Think about it: You go to great lengths to season and spice your Bloody Mary with horseradish and hot sauce and rim the glass with lip-tingling, savory seasoning salt, only to add a jigger or two of a spirit that gets lost amid all those highly-flavored ingredients. You weekend brunch deserves more.

Wake up your taste buds with these versions that use gin, whiskey, shochu and tequila.

Capitol Mary cocktail at the St. Regis Hotel Washington, D.C. - Bloody Marys with ABV (Anything but Vodka)

Capitol Mary

Recipe and image courtesy of the St. Regis Hotel Washington, D.C.

“The Capitol Mary is inspired by the commercial and cultural heritage of the nearby Chesapeake Bay. Its base is gin, the spirit of choice for the city’s social set, particularly when summering around the bay,” explains beverage manager Andy Powell. “For seasoning, the cocktail incorporates signature spices used in preparing a classic Chesapeake Bay crab feast.” Gin’s botanical and citrus notes come to life in the drink and add complexity, he says.

  • 5 oz. Tomato juice
  • ½ oz. Lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. Horseradish
  • Few drops Tabasco Sauce
  • Few drops Worcestershire Sauce
  • Pinch freshly-ground black pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 oz. Premium gin
  • 1 oz. Clam juice
  • Pinch Old Bay Seasoning
  • Juice of 1 lemon slice
  • 1 Cooked shrimp, tail fan attached, for garnish
  • Pinch horseradish, for garnish
  • Oyster crackers, to serve on the side

Mix the first seven ingredients, then combine with the remaining ingredients (except garnishes and crackers) in a shaker. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into an 8-oz. wine glass over fresh ice, and garnish with the horseradish and shrimp. Serve with a small bowl of oyster crackers.

Bourbon Bloody Mary cocktail by Chef Whitney Fontaine - Bloody Marys with ABV (Anything but Vodka)

Bourbon Bloody Mary

Recipe and image courtesy of Whitney Fontaine, Chef

If you’ve never tried a Bloody Mary with bourbon, this drink is a game changer. What makes it better still is caramelized bacon, which matches the caramel, vanilla and brown sugar notes you get from the whiskey. Get creative with the other garnishes by adding pickled okra or green beans, jicama or even radishes.

  • 6 cups Tomato juice
  • ¼ cup Prepared horseradish
  • 2 Tbsp. Gochujang paste
  • 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 tsp. Celery salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. White pepper
  • 3 cups Cooper’s Craft Bourbon
  • 2 Tbsp. Tajín seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 oz. Pasteurized egg whites
  • Garnishes of choice: caramelized bacon (see Note), olives, celery, lemon or lime wedges

Mix the first 6 ingredients together in a pitcher, and chill overnight. Mix the Tajín seasoning and the sugar together in a shallow dish. Dip the rims of rocks or pint glasses in egg whites, coat with the mixture, and set aside. When ready to serve the drinks, mix the bourbon and Bloody Mary mix, pour over ice into the prepared glasses, and garnish as desired.

For the caramelized bacon:

Lay 1 pound of regular cut sliced bacon on a sheet tray lined with foil. Mix ½ cup brown sugar and 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or smoked paprika), and generously coat the bacon slices with the mixture, pressing it into the bacon for even coverage. Place the tray into a cold oven, and turn the oven on to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake until the sugar is caramelized and the bacon is slightly crisp. Immediately remove it from the oven and place the strips on parchment or oil-coated foil. The bacon will firm as it cools and should be sturdy enough to stand in a glass.

Bloody Mariko cocktail by Jake Freed at The Periodic Table - Bloody Marys with ABV (Anything but Vodka)

Bloody Mariko

Recipe and image courtesy of Jake Freed, Co-Owner, The Periodic Table

Freed and his team are excited to “explore the intersection of Japanese and Western influences in alcoholic beverage and associated food pairings,” he says. His Eastern take on the beloved brunch cocktail uses ingredients that can generally be sourced at an Asian market. “There are Japanese analogues for many of the ingredients in the classic, spicy, umami drink, and we thought substituting them would make a great variation.”

  • 3 oz. Tomato mix (see Note)
  • 1 ½ oz. Shochu
  • 1 bar spoon Pickle pepper juice
  • Cucumber slices and pickles, for garnish

Add the first three ingredients in a glass over ice, then garnish with the cucumber slices and pickles.

For the tomato mix:

In a pitcher, combine 27 oz. tomato puree (blended and strained), 2 ½ Tbsp. usta sauce (Japanese Worcestershire sauce), 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. white pepper, 1 Tbsp. horseradish, 1 Tbsp. wasabi paste, 2 ½ tsp. Shichimi togarashi, and 3 Tbsp. lemon juice. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

The Bloody Merida cocktail by Kyle Darrow at Red Owl Tavern - Bloody Marys with ABV (Anything but Vodka)

The Bloody Merida

Recipe and image courtesy of Kyle Darrow, Lead Bartender, Red Owl Tavern

Darrow was inspired to name this drink after the main character in Brave, a Scottish girl with red hair, as the movie is one of his son’s favorites. He borrowed some of the smoked tomato broth used for a mussels dish on the menu for a twist on the drink. “The result was pretty delicious but I decided to take it a step further and up the smoke with some Scotch,” he says. “We are a whiskey bar after all.”

  • 2 oz. Bluebird Distilling American Single Malt Whiskey
  • 5 oz. Smoked tomato broth (tomatoes smoked, pureed and strained)
  • 3 dashes Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch celery salt
  • Pinch Kosher salt
  • Pinch ground pepper
  • Pinch smoked paprika
  • Juice from one lemon wedge
  • Juice from one lime wedge
  • Celery, lime wedge, olives and seared lemon wheel, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a shaker tin with ice, and roll back and forth into another large tin. Pour into a tall glass over fresh ice, and garnish as desired.

Market Maria cocktail by Dan Rook at The Kimpton Everly - Bloody Marys with ABV (Anything but Vodka)

Market Maria

Recipe and image courtesy of Dan Rook, Beverage Director, The Kimpton Everly Hotel

“Tequila has a more complex flavor profile, which makes it more interesting in a Bloody Mary,” Rook believes, who goes on to add that the spirit’s vegetal and agave notes are ramped up by the house-pickled vegetables, which he switches up depending on the season.

  • 1 ½ oz. El Jimador Tequila Silver
  • 4-5 oz. house Bloody Mix (see Note)
  • Quick-pickled farmer’s market vegetables of your choosing, for garnish (see Note)

Add the tequila and Bloody Mix to a pint glass filled with ice and stir to combine. Garnish as desired.

For the house Bloody Mix:

In a pitcher or large vessel, combine 6 cups tomato juice, 2 oz. Worcestershire sauce, 4 oz. red hot sauce, 4 oz. white wine vinegar, ¾ Tbsp. salt, ½ Tbsp. black pepper, ¾ Tbsp. horseradish. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the quick pickled farmer’s market vegetables:

Bring 1 cup vinegar, ¼ cup sugar, 2 Tbsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns and 1 Tbsp. mustard seeds to a boil. Pour the mixture over vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, assorted peppers, olives, pickles) and refrigerate for 2 hours.


Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.

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