Best Bloody Mary Garnishes

November 25, 2018

Updated: January 17, 2019

best bloody mary garnish

 

The Bloody Mary has gone wild.

Across the country, the signature cocktail has experienced an unconventional makeover — while the base recipe remains largely the same, the drink’s garnishes have dramatically evolved in the past few years.

From cinnamon rolls or pickled okra to entire fried chickens, you can top a Bloody Mary with just about anything. But is every unconventional garnish created equal?

In this guide, we’ve gathered all you need to know about the iconic cocktail’s history, garnishes and salt rims to help you breathe new life into your Bloody Mary recipe.

The Bloody Mary

One of the world’s most famous cocktails, the Bloody Mary has a complicated and disputed history. Whether the drink originated in a London newspaper, a Chicago club or a Parisian bar, one thing’s certain — this humble tomato and vodka cocktail took the world by storm.

Origin of the Bloody Mary

history of the bloody

The history of the Bloody Mary is misty with folklore — with many conflicting origin stories, it’s difficult to pin down the truth.

Historians have tracked the Bloody Mary recipe back to the late 19th century, beginning with a drink called the oyster cocktail. This alcohol-free cocktail blended tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, salt, horseradish, black pepper, lemon juice and seven small oysters. Served warm, the drink debuted in a London newspaper in 1892 and received a dubious response by both the publishers and the public.

However, it doesn’t explain how the iconic drink got its name. For that story, we must turn to folklore.

According to one popular account, the drink got its moniker from a barmaid named Mary who worked at a sketchy Chicago nightclub called Buckets of Blood. The place was known for violence — apparently, the bartenders and barmaids had to occasionally dump entire buckets of water on the grungy floors to wash away the blood.

However, Americans claim more than the cocktail’s name. Many believe that the origin of the famous drink is not in the “oyster cocktail” of London, but from American-owned Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. The bar was opened in 1911 on Thanksgiving Day, and to traveling Americans, it became a beloved slice of State-side culture in a French city. The bar opened during the Prohibition era, which made it an even more popular destination for Americans abroad — a New York-inspired bar in Paris was as close as they could get to an American bar.

During the early 1920s, Russians escaping the Russian Revolution began flooding Paris. They brought with them their spirit of choice — vodka. The bartender at Harry’s, Pete Petiot, didn’t like the taste of this new drink and began experimenting. After many failed experiments, he tried blending vodka with canned tomato juice and a few seasonings and stumbled onto the winning cocktail, which a guest to the bar named Bucket of Blood after the Chicago club.

After Prohibition, the popular cocktail was brought to New York City, where it caught on as a hangover cure. In New York, the drink was initially rebranded as the Red Snapper by the classy King Cole Bar, but the name didn’t stick — soon, bars around town were calling the drink “Bloody Mary” in reference to Mary Tudor, the Catholic queen of England and Ireland remembered for her bloody campaign against Protestants.

As time passed, the drink only gained momentum. Popular figures began to champion the cocktail, including Ernest Hemingway, who boasted that he introduced the Bloody Mary to Hong Kong in the 1940s. Whatever the true origin of the Bloody Mary, one thing is sure — the tomato juice and vodka cocktail swept the world by storm, and it hasn’t stopped evolving ever since.

Evolution of the Bloody Mary and Bloody Mary Garnishes

evolution of the bloody mary

The Bloody Mary has changed significantly over the past century. What began as a simple blend of vodka, tomato juice and some basic seasonings has evolved into a complex and unconventional mixed drink.

Hemingway’s recipe was a conventional take on the classic cocktail, with cayenne pepper, black pepper, celery salt, lime juice and Worcestershire sauce added to a base of equal amounts alcohol and juice. According to the famous author, the drink should have power and authority but not too much of either.

By the mid-20th century, the Bloody Mary had begun to be associated with upper-class culture and leisurely brunches. However, the drink’s stereotype began to change again in the 1980s, and by the turn of the 21st century, the Bloody Mary was associated with outrageous variety and fun, unexpected twists.

The most outlandish variations have originated in the American Midwest. From Wisconsin to Illinois, the central United States are fond of their unconventional Bloody Marys, and their garnishes have reached gigantic and almost absurd proportions. Branching out from the common garnishes of celery, shrimp and asparagus, the Midwest started to reinvent their Bloody Marys — bacon-wrapped cheese balls, sausages, mushrooms, pickles and even entire cheeseburgers began to appear on top of the classic drink.

Today, the drink is typically made with more tomato juice than vodka, and horseradish and hot sauce are common additions. The garnish changes based on the bar and the city — you could find one with a classic celery stick or one with an artichoke heart.

The Bloody Mary’s malleability has cemented the cocktail as a versatile and multifaceted staple, a drink that can be widely interpreted and easily personalized to suit the individual and the occasion.

Best Bloody Mary Garnishes

best bloody mary garnishes

As proved by recent trends, Bloody Mary garnishes are only limited by the imagination. However, some seem to be more widely popular than others. We’ve collected 27 of the best Bloody Mary garnishes, from classic celery to crispy onion rings. If you add one of these garnishes to your menu, you can be sure to start up conversation among your customers.

1. Celery

  • Garnish Level: Must-Have
  • Description: The classic garnish, an untrimmed stick of celery in a warm Bloody Mary is the most common way to consume the cocktail.
  • Perfect For: Everyone

2. Olives

3. Pickles

  • Garnish Level: Common
  • Description: Another common garnish, pickles are a crowd-pleasing choice that is sure to be a success with your customers.
  • Perfect For: Everyone

4. Peppers

  • Garnish Level: Common
  • Description: A pepper garnish embraces the spicy profile of a Bloody Mary, making it the cocktail’s perfect companion.
  • Perfect For: Spicy Bloody Mary Seekers

5. Lemon/Lime Wedge

  • Garnish Level: Common
  • Description: A citrus wedge or wheel pairs beautifully with the cocktail, adding a splash of color and a touch of acidity to the drink.
  • Perfect For: Everyone

6. Jalapeno

  • Garnish Level: Common
  • Description: Jalapenos bring the spiciness of peppers to the next level, which makes the perfect garnish for people who aren’t afraid of a lot of heat in their cocktail.
  • Perfect For: Extra-Spicy Bloody Mary Drinkers

7. Shrimp

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Shrimp and tomato sauce are a natural pair — using them as a Bloody Mary garnish is just the next logical step.
  • Perfect For: Shrimp Cocktail Lovers

8. Bacon

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Savory, salty and the ideal shape to fit into a glass, bacon is sure to please meat-lovers.
  • Perfect For: Savory Bloody Mary Seekers

9. Cheese

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Cheese garnishes can be in cubes or on spears, depending on the type of cheese and the look of the drink.
  • Perfect For: Savory Bloody Mary Seekers

10. Meat Straw

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Combining the accessible shape of bacon with the savory edge of sausage, a meat straw is a functional and delicious choice for a hearty Bloody Mary.
  • Perfect For: Savory Bloody Mary Seekers

11. Artichoke Hearts

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Marinated artichoke hearts aren’t pickled, but they pack a ton of flavor into one cocktail.
  • Perfect For: Tangy Cocktail Lovers

12. Pickled Asparagus

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Merging the freshness of asparagus with the tang of pickles, pickled asparagus spears are a simultaneously sophisticated and unexpected garnish.
  • Perfect For: Tangy Cocktail Lovers

13. Cheese-Stuffed Olives

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Take olives to the next level by adding cheese into the mix — your customers will love the savory twist to the spicy drink.
  • Perfect For: Savory Bloody Mary Seekers

14. Sausage

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Salty and savory, sausages don’t have the functional element of meat straws, but they are still a tasty garnish for your cocktail.
  • Perfect For: Savory Bloody Mary Seekers

15. Roasted Garlic

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Roasted garlic brings a palate-cleansing spiciness to the classic Bloody Mary.
  • Perfect For: Spicy Bloody Mary Seekers

16. Jalapeno Poppers

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Jalapeno poppers are the ideal choice for people who love a crispy, savory garnish with their cocktail.
  • Perfect For: Crispy Garnish Lovers

17. BLT (Lettuce and Bacon)

  • Garnish Level: Next Level
  • Description: Combining the fresh taste of lettuce with the savory crunch of bacon, a BLT garnish is sure to impress any Bloody Mary lover.
  • Perfect For: Savory Bloody Mary Seekers

18. Buffalo Chicken Wing

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: Unexpected but undeniably tasty, a buffalo chicken wing garnish gives a tangy and savory touch to a Bloody Mary.
  • Perfect For: Spicy Bloody Mary Seekers

19. Smoked Oysters or Mussels

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: Hearkening back to one of the cocktail’s origin stories, smoked oysters or mussels are a classic, if unexpected, garnish.
  • Perfect For: Seafood Lovers

20. Fried Chicken

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: A few pieces of crispy, savory fried chicken make a fun garnish for a spicy Bloody Mary.
  • Perfect For: Crispy Garnish Lovers

21. Burger Slider

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: For people who want a full meal along with their cocktail, a burger slider garnish is the natural next step.
  • Perfect For: Full-Meal Cocktail Seekers

22. Onion Rings

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: Crispy, salty and savory, onion rings are the perfect garnish for people who love a crunchy and hearty twist on the classic cocktail.
  • Perfect For: Crispy Garnish Lovers

23. Bacon-Wrapped Steak Bites

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: For the true meat lovers, these hearty garnishes will be a favorite item on the menu in no time.
  • Perfect For: Savory Bloody Mary Seekers

24. Crab Cake

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: A crab cake might not be your first thought for a cocktail garnish, but for seafood lovers, it’s a match made in heaven.
  • Perfect For: Seafood Lovers

25. Lobster

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: A lobster claw makes a show-stopping garnish for any Bloody Mary, delighting any seafood enthusiasts.
  • Perfect For: Seafood Lovers

26. Deep-Fried Crab

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: If you prefer your crab crispy and deep-fried, this Bloody Mary garnish will be sure to satisfy your seafood craving.
  • Perfect For: Seafood Lovers

27. Slice of Pizza

  • Garnish Level: Over the Top
  • Description: A slice of pizza is unconventional, outlandish and somehow makes perfect sense as a Bloody Mary garnish — after all, tomato sauce is a key ingredient to any good pizza.
  • Perfect For: Full-Meal Cocktail Seekers

Salt Rim Options

bloody mary salt rim options

A Bloody Mary isn’t complete without a complimentary salt rim. Here are eight of the best and most popular variations.

  • Celery Salt: A celery salt rim takes one of the most common ingredients of the cocktail and adds it to the edge of the drink, keeping the flavors similar and smooth.
  • Sea Salt: Try sea salt for a less-processed, saltier rim.
  • Cumin: The earthy and slightly bitter flavor of cumin pairs well with a Bloody Mary.
  • Granulated Garlic: For an extra kick of spice, try adding granulated garlic to the salt rim of your Bloody Mary.
  • Black Pepper: Another classic Bloody Mary ingredient, black pepper gives a smoky spiciness to the cocktail’s salt rim.
  • Dry Mustard Powder: Ketchup and mustard are a favorite condiment pairing — adding dry mustard powder to a Bloody Mary’s salt rim complements the drink and gives a slight kick of spice.
  • Lemon Pepper: Combining the spiciness of pepper with the fresh acidity of citrus, a lemon pepper rim pairs beautifully with a Bloody Mary.
  • Sweet Paprika: Sweet paprika brings a fruity, slightly bitter edge to the cocktail.

For the best results, choose a rim combination that complements the flavors of your garnish.

Find Your New Favorite Bloody Mary Garnish

bloody mary garnishes

An entire world of Bloody Mary garnishes exists beyond celery sticks. Stay ahead of the Bloody Mary garnish revolution and give your customers a garnish they can’t refuse — a fun, savory meat straw.

Combining delicious flavor with functionality, meat straws let you enjoy the cocktail and the garnish simultaneously. They add a savory flavor profile to the classic drink and give depth to your cocktail.

At Benny’s Original Meat Straws, we understand the need for a crowd-pleasing and show-stopping garnishes. Our hearty snack will become the center of attention at any social event, bar or restaurant, transforming an ordinary and boring cocktail into something extraordinary.

Shop our online store or contact us today for more information on how to up your Bloody Mary game.

 

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