There's nothing quite like a tangy, spicy Bloody Mary to kick you into shape at brunch, whether you're simply groggy-eyed or you sipped a few too many drinks the night before. A good one can work wonders but a bad once can be, well, just bad. Here's exactly what you need to know to achieve success the next time you find yourself shaking up a few in the late-morning hour.
Our method: How To Make a Bloody Mary
1. Using the wrong tomato base.
A great Bloody Mary begins with great ingredients. Since tomato juice really is the backbone of the cocktail, don't skimp on in. Use the best-quality tomato juice you can find — bonus points if you make it yourself, but we've found an even better way to nail the tomato juice base.
Follow this tip: In our lesson on making Bloody Marys, we rely on vegetable juice rather than plain tomato juice. Vegetable juice — and we're really talking about V8 here — has a strong tomato flavor, but it's tempered by a slew of additional vegetables. If you want to use a straight-up tomato base, track down the best quality you can.
2. Sticking to vodka.
Follow this tip: Go beyond vodka and try other alcohols in your drink, like gin, tequila, or beer.
Get a recipe: The Bloody Maria
3. Forgetting the fresh lemon or lime juice.
You may think there's enough acid in your Bloody Mary because of that acidic tomato juice, but you do actually still need fresh citrus juice in there too. Lemon or lime juice helps bring extra brightness to the drink and cuts through the richness of the tomato juice. It also helps keep things balanced if the tomato juice leans sweet.
Follow this tip: Use the amount of fresh lemon or lime juice called for in the recipe, but taste before you serve — if you're using a sweeter tomato juice you may want to add a squeeze more.
4. Adding too much spice.
A spicy Bloody Mary is a lovely thing, but an overly spicy one is just not enjoyable. You can always add more spice, but you can't take it back. Add a little at a time, tasting as you go.
Follow this tip: Add your spice a little at a time, tasting along the way. To be safe, leave your drinks on the less spicy side and provide hot sauce for guests to add to their liking.
5. Not serving it cold enough.
The best Bloody Mary is icy cold and far from watered down. To achieve this means using plenty of ice and also using ingredients that are already cold. So make sure that your tomato juice is thoroughly chilled before adding it in.
Follow this tip: Chill your tomato juice in the refrigerator thoroughly before using it, and don't skimp on the ice both in the shaker and in the glass. If you're mixing up a big pitcher, store it in the fridge and between pours.
Read more: 5 Types of Ice and When to Use Them