As a general rule, making your own cocktail mixes is significantly better than buying pre-made. However, some brands are doing right by bottled libations and certain cocktails are better when mixed in advance. Take the bloody mary, for example. Companies spend a lot of time perfecting their mixes to get the ideal blend of spicy, savory, and tangy flavors, so all you have to do is add vodka, gin, tequila, or your preferred spirit. Of course, some bloody mary mixes stand out above the rest, like the 12 included in our list.
The next time you’re hosting a brunch, or on a fall tailgate, or just seeking the hair of the dog these bottlings will do the trick.
Before we reveal our list, let’s talk briefly about the bloody mary cocktail.
Obviously, the most important criteria for a bloody mary is the flavor. On the surface, a bloody mary can be considered a pretty simple drink. In its most elementary form it consists of vodka, tomato juice, and spices. But once you start breaking down each component, you can see it’s actually very complex.
- VODKA: (traditional, but you can add other spirits) What kind of vodka do you use?
- TOMATO JUICE: What kind of tomato juice? Or do you use vegetable juice like V8? How much vodka and tomato juice? Do you like it thick or watered down?
- SPICES: Often hot/spicy peppers, hot sauce, black pepper, celery salt, horseradish, and Worcestershire. How spicy? Do you like your eyes to water with overwhelming heat, or just some mild flavor to it?
- A SPECIAL INGREDIENT: Usually lemon juice or pickle juice. Do you use lemon juice, pickle juice, bone broth, or nothing at all?
- GARNISH: Celery stalk and lemon wedge (although garnishes can get crazy). What kind of garnish do you use? Just a simple celery stick, bacon, or deep fried chicken?
It seems like a simple drink, but there are so many variations that it can be difficult to get the flavor right. The bloody mary is the most personalized cocktail you can create, just take a look at the ingredient list and you can see how one can perfect their mix to fit their individual tastes.
As you can see, the flavor isn’t so simple to get right because everyone has their favorite way to make a bloody mary. Getting the flavor right requires skill, and depending on your taste buds, a balancing act to get it just right, which is probably why a bartender makes your favorite version.
That being said, given its number of components, creating a bloody mary can be a bit of a hassle if you don’t have the time, effort, energy, desire, or ingredients. That’s where bloody mary mixes come into play. You can reduce the long list of ingredients to just two (if you so choose): the bloody mary mix and the vodka (or other spirit).
Our team at Lowcountry Style & Living sampled 30 bloody mary mixes from smaller boutique brands to the most popular. Each mix was sampled blindly and without add-ons (no vodka or garnishes).
- Appearance: A bloody mary should be vibrant in color and appetizing, and it all starts with the mix.
- Texture: Not too thick and not too thin. You don’t want tomato soup or just tomato juice.
- Spicy Bite: Bloody marys are not understated. They should provide the heat you need, without being overwhelmingly hot.
- Smooth Finish: Finish with a little smoky heat on the back end, but nothing that overwhelms.
- Complexity: A complexity of flavors that dance in unison with each other.
If a mix has all those things going for it, then you have a winner in the FLAVOR category (the most important).
After sampling and scoring, like cream, some mixes rose to the top. Our list is not a ranking and thus the mixes are in no particular order, but every mix on the list scored high in all our criteria categories.
The Best Mixes
A rich, tomato-forward, gluten-free mix with an ideal amount of spice. Top-shelf ingredients include organic horseradish and house made pickle brines that cut the heat and moderate the powerful punch to your taste buds. The unique thing about Mary’s Mixers Spicy is the slow yet constant burn that packs just the right amount of heat.
The heat is perfect, the texture is not too thick or too thin. San Marzano tomatoes are among the best in the world adding light acidity and sweetness to the mix. Vegan list of ingredients that you can actually feel good about. Low sodium. Zero preservatives. An artisanal blend that is the most natural and gourmet tasting on our list.
McClure’s is known for their excellent pickles….which make for great bloody mary garnishes. But they also produce a toothsome bloody mary mix that’s full of dill, garlic, and their very own pickle brine. It has a hint of cucumber and just the right amount of heat to make it a hit at your next brunch celebration. The pickle brine gives a bright acidity that makes bloody mary’s even more mouthwatering. Kosher and gluten-free.
Excellent spicy drink with a load of tomato flavor. It has a 5 pepper blend: jalapeno, aji pepper, roasted poblano, Anaheim, and red bell pepper. A bit of lemon juice and vine ripened tomatoes makes for a flavorful drink that packs a wallop. Gluten free. Dairy free. A little saltier than other mixes on our list.
A beautifully balanced mix. Made with a blend of habanero mash, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and other spices. It doesn’t contain horseradish, MSG, or high fructose syrup. No preservatives. Gluten free. Contains beef broth and anchovies that add a layer of depth to the flavor (not suitable for vegetarians and vegans). This mix is as perfectly balanced as any on our list.
Buy Charleston Bloody Mary Mix Here
This is the healthy version of a bloody mary mix. Gluten free, vegan, low-carb, keto-friendly, and low-sodium, yet it doesn’t fall short in taste or flavor. The Original is made with the brand’s proprietary sriracha and chipotle tomatillo sauce which gives it a different spice flavor. No artificial flavors and preservatives. If you are looking for peppery, smoky, savory then this mix is for you.
Cucumber infused water, a byproduct of pickling, is the star ingredient. Paired with generous amounts of horseradish, dill, garlic, and habaneros, this mix is freshness in a bottle. Ten simple, high-quality ingredients result in a mix bursting with bold rich flavors. Worcestershire and hot sauce give a flavorful, spice-forward, but not overwhelmingly hot, kick. Vegan and gluten free. There are no compromises, just fresh, natural ingredients.
A robust-flavored mix complemented by grapefruit juice and sweet and herbaceous flavors. Mexican oregano gives it a citrus but earthy profile that adds to a flavorful creation. Clamato and tomato puree provide lighter flavor with a thicker consistency. The mix is super fresh, as if made minutes before you open the bottle. A bountiful mix.
If you are looking for a bloody mary mix that is straight up decadent, Ubon’s Pitmaster Hot and Spicy could be your go-to bottling. Dill pickle brininess, sweet and delectable heat from Ubons award-winning BBQ sauce makes for umami goodness. Gluten free, fat free, no MSG. Delicious, thick, and savory. Chock full of garlic, celery seed, white pepper, chipotle powder (for smokiness), and the flavors of fresh pickles. Perfect heat. Fresh vegetable flavor.
Remedy any hangover with Bloody Point Mixing Co’s unique bloody mary mix. The Remedy Mary is infused with caffeine and vitamin B12. The coffee flavor is understated and blends smoothly with the acidity of the tomato-forward mix. Like a Red Bull without the extra fillers, chemicals, and sugar. Gluten Free. No Preservatives. This is not just a hangover mix as it can stand on its own with its flavor profile.
A lot of bloody mary mixes feel heavy under the weight of the spices, but Powel & Mahoney is light and delicate. Vegan. Organic. Made with cane sugar. Great consistency. This mix expertly combines savory, spicy, and sweet flavors. With this mix you’ll still have room for brunch. Free from artificial sweeteners and preservatives. No MSG.
A classic mix inspired by the flavors of the iconic Chicago hot dog. Tangy, smoky, savory. Upfront you get a punch of celery with notes of the pickle juice and mustard followed by a rich, beefy, flavor explosion. Briney, a little bit salty. Better yet – all that beefy flavor is a vegan, gluten-free, all-natural mix.
How To Doctor Up Your Bloody Mary?
Even with a terrific mix on hand, many bloody mary fans will still want to give their drink some extra pizzazz. Here are some easy ways to build more flavor to this brunch favorite:
- Infuse the vodka: Steep your go-to brand with pickles, jalapenos, or fresh herbs.
- Add some spice: Don’t be afraid to add more heat. A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce can do wonders.
- Squeeze in citrus: A splash of lemon or lime juice can brighten up this cocktail. Make sure it’s the fresh stuff.
- Garnish, garnish, garnish: Half the fun is garnishing with all the extras (not just a limp celery stalk). Pickles, bacon, sausage sticks, cheese cubes, olives, shrimp, and more make for great garnishes.
Things To Keep In Mind When Shopping For A Bloody Mary Mix
Unopened bloody mary mixes will retain their quality for up to a year (make sure you check the expiration date). Upon opening, the average mix can be refrigerated for around three to four weeks. But note, every mix on our list is free of preservatives, so you should enjoy it within two weeks. The quality and taste of the mixes on our list are well worth the shortened time frame. And they are healthier!
Most bloody mary mixes are 32 ounces, which yield approximately eight cocktails when mixed with vodka or the spirit of your choice.
When it comes to taste, your bloody mary drinking experience is entirely subjective. Certain flavors and heats may prioritize over others, which is precisely what makes bloody mary customization so much fun. Regardless of your preference, there is sure to be a new favorite mix on our list. So it’s time to get brunching and mixing! Enjoy!