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  • Jake Weien

Making the Best Bloody Mary

We have been talking a lot about Bloody Marys the past few weeks. Although we started Colorado’s Biggest Bloody Mary Bar in July 2021, it has just started to pick up some steam, thanks to a great article by Amanda Hancock in February.

Photo of Bloody Mary cocktail with olives, pickle and lime garnishing glass sitting on black table.
The liquid breakfast cocktail - The Bloody Mary. Photo by @thecreativejake

The Bloody Mary is often associated with a solid way to nurse a hangover, although too much acid doesn’t always give the curing effect needed for an abused stomach. The notion of providing nutrient-rich vegetables and tomato juice with a bit of alcohol as a “hair of the dog” remedy sometimes helps sufferers. Because of the timing of need, the Bloody Mary has become synonymous with a late breakfast or brunch cocktail consumed before noon.

Having been a fan of the “meal in a glass” cocktail for many years, it seemed a bit shocking to me when customers shared that they had never experienced a Bloody Mary. We have noticed in our Taste Lounge a larger population of Midwest and Northern states guests who greatly admire the Bloody, sometimes with a little beer added to the mix. Regardless of where you come from, Bloody Marys are an international cocktail with the most diverse recipes.

Pickled vegetables and bottles of hot sauce, spices, seasonings, olive oil and other Bloody Mary ingredients
Over 75 ingredients to choose from every Sunday 11am-3pm at 1350 Distilling. Photo by @thecreativejake

We have had guests explain to us how they may have “overdid it with too many ingredients”, which can happen when you have over 75 to choose from. At our DIY bar every Sunday from 11am-3pm in our Taste Lounge, we share advice for newbies whenever asked, but the question still remains: “What is the best Bloody Mary recipe?”

As with all cocktails, the “best” way to make or drink any spirit is exactly the way you like it, whether it be neat, on the rocks, stirred or shaken; there are so many details and different ways that any spirit can be consumed. This carries over to the elaborate or simplistic creation of a Bloody Mary. I have collected a handful of bartenders’ preferences for a Bloody Mary that I am excited to share with you.

We have found that our 1350 Distilling spirits (Minuteman Vodka, pineapple and jalapeño infused vodka and Wingman Gin) are a great base for the drink accredited to Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot. Interested in Pete or how this drink got its name? Here is a fun and informative article by

The original Bloody Mary recipe called for gin, which was more common in America at the turn of the 1900’s. Gin is my go-to for my Bloody Mary base which Becky Brunet, co-owner of Momma Pearls Cajun Kitchen, also shares my juniper affinity.

“Our Bloody Mary is made with your Wingman Gin,” Brunet shared recently, “We make our own Bloody Mary mix that includes horseradish and Louisiana’s Crystal Hot Sauce.”

Bloody Mary and Hurricane cocktails with bottles of Blue Jacket Rum and Wingman Gin and stuffed mushroom and Étouffée appetizers
Appetizers and 1350 Distilling cocktails served at Momma Pearls Cajun Kitchen in Colorado Springs. Photo by @thecreativejake

Sidenote: Momma Pearls has an amazing menu of New Orleans inspired cocktails, especially this time of year (Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday are their busiest time of the year). They have a current special, The Mardi Gras Cocktail as well as their beloved Hurricane which both use our Blue Jacket Rum made from Louisiana molasses.

Garnishes and extra snacks are the key to any Bloody Mary. Brunet chooses to add a skewer with a pearl onion, zesty okra and green bean, hot dill pickle, and a blue cheese stuffed olive. A celery stalk, lime and lemon wedge adorn the rim of the glass with their homemade cajun seasoning.

Seasonings are a key ingredient in most Bloody Mary recipes and the beauty of this easy to make home cocktail is that seasonings can vary widely based on your own spice rack.

Top view looking down onto cutting board with steak cooked medium and sliced. Grilled lemons and rosemary on the side with salt and peppercorns sprinkled about. Glass of whiskey served neat.
The Still Whiskey Steak has some of the best prepared steaks in the state. Photo from The Still Whiskey Steak Facebook page.

Celery salt is one of the key seasonings I find important for a good Bloody Mary. Taylor Hedding, General Manager of The Still Whiskey Steaks in Fort Collins agrees. Besides having amazing dinners, they make outstanding cocktails - some with our 1350 Distilling spirits. “My favorite ingredients in a Bloody Mary mix are Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, lemon juice and a few dashes of hot sauce to spice it up. A good rim salt is always important with a nice mix of celery salt, paprika and a little lemon pepper. A nice piece of bacon as a garnish is always nice too!”

Exterior photo of Bottles & Taps Pub in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Bottles & Taps located at 4763 Flintridge Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80918. Photo by @thecreativejake

Bacon!? Everything's better with bacon, isn’t it? We offer bacon, Lil’ Smokies, and meat sticks at our bloody bar as protein additions (not to mention cheese and crackers). I can still recall how enticing it was for me the first time I saw a nice hunk of bacon sticking out of a Bloody Mary, which now seems to be a common garnish of choice for most the people I have talked with including Craig Baars, owner and bartender of Bottles & Taps here in central Colorado Springs. Baars is a mad scientist of a bartender always looking for the perfect concoction. His preference for a Bloody Mary includes: “A top-shelf vodka”, Zing-Zang Bloody Mary Mix, salt, pepper, celery salt, prepared horseradish, A.1. steak sauce, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Bacon is a must, along with some more traditional garnishes like a pickle spear, celery stick, and pepperoncini pepper. He also likes using martini-style cocktail onions and pickled asparagus. Tajín Clásico is his rimmed glass seasoning of choice.