You'll Need More Fresh Tomatoes Than You Think To Make Bloody Marys

The Bloody Mary is perhaps the best daytime cocktail there is. It's picturesque, deliciously savory, and, if you're ambitious enough, you can fit an entire meal on top of it (loaded seafood Bloody Mary, anyone?). Given these merits, you may be tempted to add the drink to the menu for your next brunch get-together. Be forewarned, though, that if you plan on making those drinks with fresh ingredients, you'll be spending more on tomatoes than you might think — buying at least a half-pound for every single serving.

A great Bloody Mary relies on a strong tomato flavor. During late summer, at the peak of their season, fresh tomatoes pack a juicy, umami punch that is perfect for this purpose, but they're still mostly water, meaning they blend down to a much smaller volume than one would expect given their original form. What's more, off-season tomatoes are picked too early to develop good flavor, so most of the year it will take an even larger number of fresh tomatoes to achieve the ideal intensity needed for a top-notch cocktail.

How to substitute for fresh tomato

If your local grocery store is short on tomatoes, or if you simply wish to skip the fuss, there are several alternatives to fresh tomatoes that can deliver the desired flavor for a Bloody Mary. Whole canned tomatoes are the closest substitute. They are preserved at the peak of their ripeness, guaranteeing a good depth of flavor, and are often packed in their own juice, meaning you sacrifice little in the way of liquid. As an added plus, they come pre-peeled, so you won't have to worry about rogue chunks of tomato skin ruining the drink's texture.

There is also the classic approach of using tomato juice or even Bloody Mary mix. If you go this route, be sure to select a quality brand. Too many options can be packed with extra sugar and sodium. They range from extremely bland to overwhelmingly seasoned. These options need not be full substitutions, either; you can always add them as a supplement to the flavor and volume of a purée made from fresh tomatoes, if you find them lacking.