Bourbon Will Give Your Next Bloody Mary A Bolder Flavor

Vodka makes a Bloody Mary, tequila makes a Bloody Maria, and gin makes a Red Snapper. So, what does bourbon make? We're glad you asked. Introducing the Bloody Derby (also known as the Shotgun Bloody and Bloody Marianne): a bourbon-spiked, spicy tomato fantasia you didn't even know you were missing. Add welcome depth to this spicy, tangy favorite by swapping the vodka for bourbon in our classic Bloody Mary recipe. Unlike neutral vodka, using bourbon as the base spirit contributes a unique flavor to the familiar (even predictable) Bloody Mary profile. Rich, smoky, and slightly sweet, the addition of bourbon emphasizes the tasting notes of the roasted tomato. 

Bloody Mariannes make a very welcome Sunday morning sipper, whether you're "hair of the dogging" it in style or just getting your day started with morning brunch. For fancy flair, serve your Bloody Marianne in a stemless wine glass over a single large ice cube, and garnish with a strip of crispy fried bacon and a fresh rosemary sprig. Or, you could serve that Bloody Marianne with a fittingly sweet-smoky meal like smoked salmon pasta for dinner (there are no rules).

There's no need to break the bank here; any smooth, budget-friendly bourbon will do. Bulleit Bourbon ($32.99 via Drizly) is a solid, widely available option for more understated drinks like the bacon rosemary Bloody Mary we mentioned earlier. Or, if you're looking to batch 'em, or if you're in it more for the garnishes, good old Evan Williams bourbon ($15.99) will get the job done just fine.

Bourbon Bloody Marys are breaking onto the brunch scene

By putting together your own Bloody Mary mix, you get to customize the flavor profile to fit your unique preference, which can be especially helpful when tailoring the body of the drink to complement sweet-savory-smoky bourbon. Just be sure to let the base mix chill for at least four hours before serving. This allows all the flavors to meld together into a drink mix that's greater than the sum of its parts.

The ingredients you select for the body mix will help your Bloody Marianne lean more smoky, sweet, savory, or tangy. For instance, you could add maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, Old Bay, Tabasco or Cholula, lemon juice, and (of course) freshly cracked black pepper. The world is your oyster — but on the note of seafood, it's probably best to steer clear of Clamato juice here. The briny flavor might work in a neutral vodka Bloody Mary, but it'll compete with the bourbon in a not-so-great way.

Now is the time for gettin' wild with the garnishes. Smokey and savory are good flavors for pairing with the bourbon tomato drink. Smoked asparagus, smoked or pimento-stuffed olives, pickled green beans, cocktail onions, artichoke hearts, banana peppers, cured meats, and cheese cubes all make terrific complements. You could even whip up a flavorful rim with salt, smoked paprika, onion powder, and garlic salt. A pinch of smoked Maldon sea salt flakes would also add texture and depth to each sip.