Our Search for the Best Bloody Mary Mix

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[Photo: Robyn Lee]

As Kenji mentioned earlier, the Bloody Mary should be made fresh—this is a drink that deteriorates over time, losing its bright, fresh flavors and all the complexity that makes it delicious. But if you're not hosting a fancy brunch, just desperately seeking the hair of the dog, you may want to keep things simple. So you're wondering: which is the best premade Bloody Mary mix?

The answer depends on what you're looking for. In our search for the best Bloody Mary mix, we found a few different options for folks with varying taste. Some of these mixes are mild and sweet, others are fiery, peppery, or horseradishy. Are any of these bottles as good as a freshly made Ultimate Fully Loaded Bloody Mary? No, they're not. But the mixes mentioned below will do in a pinch, especially if you're willing to doctor them up a little bit.


Recommended If You Like It Mild

Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary Maker
This thick mix is a pretty sweet but tasty balance of tomato and spices, with the unusual addition of ginger puree and shiitake mushrooms. It reminded us a little more of spaghetti sauce than Bloody Mary mix, but it could easily be doctored up with some hot sauce and a little lemon. The one downside: big chunks of dried herbs.
Available online, $7.99 for a 32 ounce jar.

Big Tom Spiced Tomato Juice
This mix is mild and a bit sweet, with a good, even spice base that includes cumin and coriander. It's a smooth, tasty mix, but chiliheads will need to add hot sauce. (And a squeeze of lemon wouldn't hurt.)
Available at specialty stores.

Hot Stuff

Ripe Pure Squeezed San Marzano Bloody Mary Mix
This refrigerator-case mix brings it all together—good quality tomatoes, celery juice, lemon, balsalmic, horseradish, and lots of salt. Though it's as light and bright as a freshly made 'Mary, it's a drinkable mix, with a bit of a burn on the finish. This was a favorite among our tasters, though some found it a bit too salty.
Available at Whole Foods and online here, $8.95 for 1 L

Dave's Gourmet Original Bloody Mary Mix
This mix definitely needs thinning down with lots of ice (and vodka), and it's quite sweet and full of heat. The horseradish flavor is a little hidden, but the tomato flavor is nice, if a bit too heavily dosed with corn syrup. Heat lovers may have found their match.
Available online, About $8 for a 32 ounce bottle.

Freshies Hot Mary Spicy Habanero
This stuff might first seem light, but then a serious burn develops. While it could use more horseradish and a bit of lime, it's not a bad choice for those who like it hot.
Available online, About $6.25 for a 32 ounce bottle.

Recommended for Spicy Pickle Fans

McClure's Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
Many people swear by this mix, which is salty, spicy, sour and intense. Vinegar is the 2nd ingredient, and this stuff is pungent. You can taste dill, peppers, garlic, and your lips burn a bit from the heat. Be sure to shake well to get the tomato flavor too—it's easily overpowered. Some of our tasters felt that Mcclures tasted too much like pickle juice, though some applauded that puckering sour flavor.
Available online, $11.99 for a 32 ounce jar.

A Decent Base To Doctor Up

Trader Joe's Bloody Mary Mixer with Clam Juice
This mix smells super-tomatoey and there's a ton of celery flavor. It's thick, rich, and a little on the sweet side, but it's not spicy at all. It would be a great starting point, though—just add hot sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon and you'd probably be good to go (a little fresh horseradish, of course, wouldn't hurt.)

For Horseradish-Heads

Bloody Bold Bloody Mary Mix
The aroma of horseradish hits you first on this one, though none of these mixes ended up having that much pungency. This mix is a little sweet and thick, and tastes like a mix of cocktail sauce and Worcestershire—if you like to garnish your Bloody Mary with shrimp, this could be the mix for you. Just be sure to add lots of ice and lemon.
Available online, about $6.99 for 1 liter

For Black Pepper Lovers

Irish Dog Bloody Mary Mix
This mix is super peppery and salty. It could use a squeeze of lemon (and maybe and extra dash of tomato juice) but it's pretty tasty, and would be a good accompaniment to steak and eggs.
Available at these stores.

All About the Celery Salt

Zing Zang
People rave about this stuff, but we weren't that wild about it. It's heavily dosed with celery salt, pretty sweet, and otherwise kind of one-dimensional. The other vegetable juices in this mix come forward more than the tomato does.
Available online, about $8 for 32 ounces

Go Traditional

Tabasco Mildly Seasoned Bloody Mary Mix
Pretty basic but super salty, with lots of tomato-concentrate flavor. The taste of this mix won't surprise you: it's a straight forward blend of Worcestershire, tomato paste, and Tabasco, and though it won't blow you away, it's not bad. Note: this mix is not vegetarian. We didn't love the Extra Spicy version, which seemed saltier but not as flavorful as the mildly seasoned one.
Available online, about $3 for 32 ounces

Not for Us, Maybe For You

Stirrings Simple Bloody Mary
Most of our tasters found this mix way too sweet, almost like sweet barbecue sauce mixed into cocktail sauce. Lots of celery salt, lots of horseradish, turmeric (why?) and corn syrup.
Available online, about $10 for 25 ounces

What mix do you reach for when you're making a Bloody Mary? Which is your favorite?

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