Can a Good Bloody Mary Be Made From a Mix? Perhaps So, But Get Yourself Some Fatalii

Photos by John Kiely
The Bloody Mary on the right is very easy to make. But is it good?

Most bottled cocktail mixes are loathsome, brought down by corn syrup, chemical tastes or a necessary replacement of fresh citrus juice with citric acid. The only bottled cocktail I'll consider is a Bloody Mary mix, as most of the ingredients of a "fresh" Bloody Mary come from a bottle or jar anyway.

I was alerted to a new possibility during a visit to iBurn last month, where co-owner James Wreck showed me a combination of a Bloody Mary mix and a pepper purée. He'd tested it with a bartender, who gave the combo a thumbs-up and said it was one of the best Bloody Marys she had ever served.

That obviously called for a taste-off, so I bought a quart of Freshies Hot Mary Spicy Habanero all-natural mix, and a bottle of CaJohn's Fatalii pepper purée, and went to work. The other side of the comparison was a Bloody Mary made with Campbell's tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, Tabasco, cayenne powder, and fresh lemon and lime juice.

First I tasted the Freshies Hot Mary mix with nothing but vodka. Surprisingly, the habanero wasn't very hot, though it started to sneak up on me. The drink was a little heavy on the Worcestershire sauce and celery salt, so it needed something to lighten that taste; it needed fresh citrus juice. A teaspoon of lemon didn't work, but a teaspoon of lime made it a decent Bloody Mary.

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If I go from scratch I use V8 and add the usual suspects, for mix my go to is ZingZang but doctor it with celery seed (never celery salt), wosthershire, Tabasco, lime and black pepper.


My wife and I spent a sunday morning perfecting a bloody mary recipe.  We started with tomato juice as a base and experimented with various combinations of worchestsire, celery salt, horseradish, lime, lemon, various hot sauces and wasabi, pepper vodka, cucumber vodka, regular vodka, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, olive juice... and probably a few other ingredients that I'm forgetting.  By the 7th Mary we had the perfect recipe.  But we were too drunk to remember it later in the afternoon.  Add to it that we were hung over by 6pm Sunday afternoon, and it made for a real shitty experience.


@burnmeimnaughty Glad you asked, so I went out and got a bottle of Zing Zang for direct comparison.  The Zing Zang is too forward with the celery seed, slightly too sweet with added sugar, and one-dimensional.  The Freshies in comparison is thicker, and tastes more like it's been freshly pureed. The Freshies costs a few dollars more per bottle, but it's mixed at 3 to 1, rather than 4 to 1 for Zing Zang. 

After tasting the Freshies, I didn't like the Zing Zang at all, and adding fatalii didn't change that.


@rgwalt Yeah, I also learned the hard way that a pen is crucial bar equipment.

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