So stark are their differences that if you handed an alien a Bloody Mary and a Martini and said, “Here, we call these cocktails,” they might reasonably question what planet you’re from.
For the ease of putting things in boxes, we call the Bloody Mary a cocktail. But really, it is so much more than that: a complex, boozy meal in a glass; a vehicle for a range of elaborate garnishes, themselves a separate course of the meal; and a hangover cure, if only by means of placebo.
Beyond the all-important mix, which is as deserving of fresh preparation as lime juice for a Margarita, booze matters in the Bloody Mary. Though other options abound, vodka is the classic go-to. Rather than reaching for a random bottle simply to add booze, consider the spirit a genuine important component of the cocktail. Once you do, the Bloody Mary takes on an otherworldly new lease of life.
From prickly ryes to full-on habanero heat, here are seven of the best vodkas for Bloody Marys.
Tattersall Distilling Vodka
Distinctive grainy spice and a hint of umami define this characterful, corn-based vodka. Each of those notes ensure that if you go heavy on Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, or celery salt, the Bloody Mary will sing to the same tune as the vodka. Average price: $27.
Chopin Rye Vodka
Mixing with this vodka results in a combo akin to crushing perfectly ripe tomatoes on whole wheat crackers. Our palate leans toward a slightly sweeter Mary mix with this one; hold the black pepper. Average price: $27.
Ketel One Vodka
The gentle spice and subtly sweet finish of this wheat-based vodka make it another option that marries well with a ripe, tomato-forward Bloody Mary mix. Generous texture and weight on the palate ensure the cocktail never feels disjointed. Average price: $23.
Chase Original Potato Vodka
If you season your Mary mix with olive brine and celery salt: a) you’re a pro, and b) this is the vodka to reach for. Its rounded, saline core weaves seamlessly among those seasonings, and demands a garnish of large, juicy green olives. Average price: $37.
Double Cross Vodka
Though clean overall, this wheat-based vodka finishes with a faintly sweet, tangy note. The flavor isn’t too far removed from biting on a refreshing green tomato, making this vodka ideal for Bloody Mary time. Average price: $33.
Best Vodkas For Spicy Bloody Marys
Hanson of Sonoma Habanero Vodka
As chili-spiced spirits from any category go, this is impressive. The habanero aromas arrive with vibrant gusto before prickles of chili pepper spice dance over the palate. A subtle undercurrent of sweetness from the base grape distillate ensures the spirit doesn’t allow it to run too wild. Spicy Bloody Marys never tasted so good. Average price: $28.
St. George Spirits Green Chile Vodka
Distilled with jalapeños and lime, then infused with four other types of peppers, this vodka dials down the heat, relatively speaking, and instead focuses on green, vegetal complexity. Brimming with flavor, this vodka will hold its own in any Bloody Mary mix, no matter how crazy you want to go with spices and seasonings. Average price: $28.