Southern Living Bloody Mary
While the South can’t lay claim to the Bloody Mary (even cocktail experts can’t agree on where or when it was first made), it’s such a fixture at weekend brunches and afternoon tailgates that it might as well have originated here. Like many Southern recipes, the cocktail appears simple, but it’s deceptively complex. Tomato juice and vodka are essential—from there, spices and seasonings vary as much as the person making the drink. We tested all sorts of add-ins (some traditional, some not so much) to make a spicy, pungent base that’s just right when mixed with your favorite vodka and served over ice in a sturdy glass. As for garnishes, some bars and restaurants are all about the showmanship, from steamed oysters to boiled shrimp, but we prefer a simpler approach with celery, pickled vegetables, and—to gild the lily—a bacon salt rim. Maybe the Bloody Mary is more Southern than we thought.
Bloody Maria: Replace the vodka with tequila; serve as directed.
Michelada: Top off light beer with Bloody Mary mixer; serve with a lime wedge.
Virgin Mary: Hold the vodka. Add more citrus juice to taste; serve as directed.
Bloody Caesar: Equal parts Bloody Mary mixer and bottled clam juice; serve as directed.