The Cocktail Column: Bloody Mary and Variations

When it comes to cocktails, who doesn’t love a good variation on a classic? What can you do to revolutionise a Bloody Mary?

Everyone who has been out to anywhere that sells cocktails will be familiar with a Bloody Mary. As suitable for a pasta sauce as it is for a hair-of-the-dog hangover cure, the classic vodka and tomato juice pairing is nearly 100 years old. No one is actually sure of when exactly it was created, nor where or how.

Hendrick’s Dirty Bloody Mary, as served at Tates in Bournemouth

Variations on the dish are not exactly few and far between, from the simple additions of things like port to over-the-top ones such as garnishes of prawns and bacon. My favourite that I’ve come across recently, served at a new tapas bar in Bournemouth called Tates is a Hendrick’s Dirty Bloody Mary (see pictured). This strays much further from the traditional recipe than I have ever before encountered since it uses Hendrick’s Gin as its base spirit. Tomato Juice, the usual sauces, plus a garnish of bacon and olives (the olives are what makes the drink “Dirty”, by the way).


Measurements are 25ml per ingredient or multiples thereof (subject to taste) unless stated otherwise.

  • 2 measures Smirnoff Vodka (or another reputable brand)
  • 200ml Tomato Juice

Optional ingredients and additions are as follows:

  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Horseradish Sauce
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Black Pepper
  • 50ml Hendrick’s Gin (either instead of or alongside the vodka)
  • 50ml Cockburn’s Port
  • Slice of Lemon
  • A quarter-slice of Streaky Bacon (to garnish)
  • 2-3 green olives (to garnish)
  • Salt (to rim the glass)
  • 1 Celery stick (to garnish and/or dip)
  • 2-3 cocktail prawns (to garnish)

Makes 1 cocktail


Unlike many cocktails we have featured over the years, the Bloody Mary does not require the use of a cocktail shaker. It is best prepared in a Collins glass, rimmed with salt if you prefer.

Start by placing the vodka and tomato juice in at the same time and stir well with a mixing spoon. If you’re adding port or gin, pour this in before stirring.

Once all the liquid ingredients are dealt with, you can now apply your sauces. If you’re making this cocktail for someone else, let them do this themselves.

Finally, handle the garnishes. This can be as ridiculous as you want. You can thread the olives and/or bacon across a cocktail pick, or hang little cocktail prawns off the side of the glass. Alternatively, more traditionally, a slice of lemon is often used to accompany a traditional Bloody Mary. Finish off with a stick of celery.

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