The Bloody Mary Conundrum

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Last year, my boss came to me with some very tragic news. News that shocked me to my core, and left me standing there, unable to speak, barely able to breathe.

“We’re going to start serving brunch on the weekends.”

Now, brunch is a tough prospect for any bar manager. The crates of oranges that need to be stocked in an already-full cooler. The cases of prosecco. And the dreaded Bloody Mary conundrum.

Offering a Bloody Mary at brunch presents the cautious bar manager with a bit of a pickle, no pun intended. Here’s the problem: Ideally each Bloody Mary would be made to order, à la minute, from scratch. But doing so would be far too time-consuming when the bar is busy. We want people to have drinks in their hands quickly. Doing so makes people happy, and we’re trying to be in the business of making people happy.

So, the obvious solution is to make a huge batch of Bloody Mary mix, have the bartender throw it on top of some vodka in a pint glass, and there you go, right? Well, the question is how much to make. If we make too little, the bartender ends up having to make them to order anyway. If we make too much, then we’ve got a bunch of Bloody Mary mix getting dumped at the end of each Sunday, because lord knows that shit ain’t gonna be fresh a week later (I’m looking at you, half of the sports bars in the country). And that ends up being a huge waste of money. And we’re also trying to be in the business of making money here.

And what about the Caesar? I happen to love the national drink of Canada, and wanted to offer it on my menu as well. But of course, nobody could predict how Portlanders would take to zesty clam-flavored tomato drink (turns out they love it) and I didn’t want to have yet another batch of mix to throw down the drain every week

What to do, what to do… And then it hit me: if we took the majority of the labor-intensive components and separated them from the tomato or tomato-based ingredients, we’d be left with something so salty and acidic that it would be (refrigerator) shelf stable for well over a week. The result is a mix that’s easy to make, totally versatile, and turns making a Bloody Mary or Caesar a simple three-ingredient process.

Bloody Mary Premix Print Me

  • 12 oz lemon juice
  • 12 oz Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tsp finely-ground black pepper
  • 1½ tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  1. Mix all ingredients together and bottle. To make a Caesar or Bloody Mary, combine 1 oz premix, 2 oz vodka, and 4 oz tomato juice or Clamato in a pint glass, mix well, garnish and serve. (Makes one 750ml Bottle)

Recipe printed courtesy of

62 Replies to “The Bloody Mary Conundrum”

  • Derek C. says:

    Is there a reason why you wouldn’t want to add vodka to the mix? Seems like it might also act as a preservative in addition to just the salt and acid.

  • Sven says:

    This is a great way to make -a lot- of bloody mary’s quickly, and to my knowledge it’s almost the standard way to do it in London.

    I would skip the tabaso and the lemon juice though, so you can adjust the spicyness and lemon just tastes better fresh.

  • Tianna says:

    Awesome plan. One problem. Ceasars are with lime. That’s why there is a picture of a lime on the Clamato labels…

  • Jordan says:

    I might have missed this in the previous replies, but what would happen if you took the lemon juice out of the premix? Worcestershire, Tabasco, and dry spices should be almost indefinitely shelf stable. If you juice your own lemons you can add that along with the tomato juice while building the drink.

  • Aaarghzombies says:

    Add a touch of sugar too….

  • sc'Que? says:

    What I want to know is: what is up with the idea that the best time to order a Bloody in semi-smalltown Pennsylvania is between 6 and 9pm on a Friday night? Seriously, that’s basically the only time people try to order them… when you’re already in the weeds and you had not yet read this article.


  • X says:


    wow these kinda comments always crack me up.

    Get over yourselves. In the end we work in hospitality. Make the customers happy. Every clientele base is different depending on establishment (or even season, or time of day) know your peoples.

    Some want it high quality, but right away, so pre-batching the good ingredients is an absolute necessity.

    Others with an appreciation for the craft don’t mind that extra wait for that one-off libation.

    Some places clients will consistently praise your bloodys made with a good quality bottled mix.

    In summery maintain integrity, but get the fuck off your high horse and back behind the stick and love your job… or find another line of work.

  • sc'Que? says:

    It’s not a high-horse. It’s a reality of the situation. I’m not gonna pre-batch something that gets ordered only a couple times per week, because it will just sit and go bad. And I’m not going to make bloodys during dinner service on Friday or Saturday because we don’t have the infrastructure to pull them off in any sort of timely manner. That, and pre-batched always seem to taste “rusty”–never fresh enough.

    Having worked in this place for 12 yrs, I’m pretty sure I know my clientele. And the ones who always try to order them are tourists who we’ll never see again.

    At this point, we only make Bloodys Sun – Thurs. But it still begs the question: WHY DO THEY ALWAYS TRY TO ORDER THEM BETWEEN 6 – 9PM ON A FRIDAY OR SATURDAY NIGHT?

  • sc'Que? says:

    Also, the non-fresh ingredients are not allowed to be pre-batched in PA without having to throw them out at the end of the shift. That is wasteful.

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