Expert Bartenders Tell Us How To Master The Bloody Mary

We went and grilled London's best bartenders for tips on upgrading your own spicy hangover-busters

Expert Bartenders Tell Us How To Master The Bloody Mary


Nicolas Vierne, bar manager at Percy & Founders, says…

“Our Bloody Mary gets its distinctive colour from yellow tomato juice, sourced from the Isle of Wight. You can get it from any good deli, though. I find it makes the drink much lighter and more refreshing, so it’s a perfect summer version. I’d always recommend using fresh oregano too – dried stuff doesn’t come close.”

Best Bloody Mary ever? “I had a stand-out one at a restaurant called La Bella Idrusa, in a little coastal town called Otranto in Puglia, Italy. The produce there is so incredible that with a few humble ingredients you’ve got an outstanding drink.”

Cardinal Bloody Mary sins? “Never, ever shake a Bloody Mary. Shaking dilutes it. You want a rick, thick consistency with concentrated flavours to blast away that weekend hangover.”

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Maurizio Patruno, senior bartender at Village East, says…

“In one of our versions, we use freshly juiced beetroots instead of tomato juice. It’s got all the natural antioxidants you apparently need to clear a foggy Sunday morning head, and it enhances the drink’s freshness. The earthy taste makes it feel like you’re doing your body a favour, too.”

Best Bloody Mary ever? “Er, the one at my house?”

Cardinal Bloody Mary sins? “I totally get why a Bloody Mary is a go-to hangover cure, but in all honesty I prefer to order a quick half of IPA if I’m suffering the morning after.”

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Lewis Coburn, group beverage manager at The Richmond, Jidori and Elliot’s Café, says…

“I have a special ‘Mary Mix’ with 26 different ingredients, from garlic and celery salt through to yellow mustard seeds. I always make sure port is involved, too. It briefly distracts your taste buds from the spiciness and its sweet creaminess also helps build the core of the drink. Add it to taste.”

Best Bloody Mary ever? “It was at Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, NYC. I’d been in New York, visiting as many bars as I could with some mates, and by the last day I was in need of a remedy. The spiciness was on the money.”

Cardinal Bloody Mary sins? “People really should clarify their tomato juice when making Bloody Marys at home. It doesn’t change the flavour, but brings a mercifully smooth texture. Chunkiness is failure in a Bloody Mary.”

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Andy Kerr, operations director at The Sun Tavern, says…

“It’s all about the homemade chilli vodka. It’s so easy to make: take a handful of habanero chillis, blend them, steep them in vodka for a week and then strain. I like to add a meat stick in there too: it’s saltiness totally compliments the drink’s spiciness, and eating it calms down the hotness. It’s a win win situation.”

Best Bloody Mary ever? “It’s gotta be Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, New York. It came with an oyster and a shrimp! Again, that saltiness worked so well with the drink.”

Cardinal Bloody Mary sins? “Don’t settle for bad quality tomato juice, and use the best you can find. And don’t rush the process. You should treat it like you’re making a fine dinner.”

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Tessa Petersson, bar manager at The Harcourt, says…

“We infuse our vodka with smoked salmon for around three days. It’s so easy to do at home: put two sprigs of both dill and rosemary, and 50 grams of smoked salmon soaked in lemons and peppercorns into a jar and add vodka. Give it a good shake once or twice a day and let science do the rest. I love a good tomato sauce with my salmon, which is why I love that smokiness in my Bloody Mary, too.”

Best Bloody Mary ever? “In London? It’s definitely the bartender’s breakfast at Hakkasan. Further afield, it was at Cookie, a Thai restaurant in Melbourne. The recipe was a secret but chilli, oyster sauce and coriander were involved for sure.”

Cardinal Bloody Mary sins? “Drink up before the ice dilutes too much. Nobody deserves a watery Bloody Mary.”

Words by Chris Sayer

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