If You're Not Adding Beer To Your Bloody Mary, You're Missing Out, According To A Cicerone

Tried and true bloody marys are one of the most beloved brunch cocktails, and mixologists have taken creative liberties with their recipes. Not only have they swapped spirits, as is the case with the tequila-spiked bloody maria, but the mix itself has also taken on countless forms. Yet another tasty, boozy improvement to bloody marys that you should try is to top it off with beer.

There's no better expert to recommend this delicious trick than Lindsay Jo Whirley, the assistant director at Newfields Historical Nature and Arts Center and a certified cicerone. If you're wondering what a cicerone is, it's essentially a sommelier of beer. In an interview with Tasting Table, Whirley proclaimed, "I REALLY love my bloody mary topped with beer."

She utilizes her hard-earned cicerone certification to break down the best type of beer to pair with the spicy, umami-rich ingredients in bloody mary mix. Whirley tops off her bloody mary with "either a couple ounces of a smooth dark porter or a generous pour of something like Miller High Life." Of course, there's a drastic difference between these two types of beers: Miller High Life is a light, crisp, and bubbly lager, with a subtle flavor, while porters are full-bodied, thick, and have a complex and ultra-rich palate. So, how do you decide which of the two types of beer to use? Whirley says that it depends on the other ingredients in your bloody mary.

Porter vs Lager in bloody marys

Just as porters and lagers are on opposite sides of the taste and texture spectrum, bloody mary recipes also run the flavor gamut. Therefore, Whirley bases her beer choice on how basic or elaborate the bloody mary mix is. She told us, "I use the porter when my bloody mary is really dolled up with lots of extras like Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, etc., and I stick to the Miller High Life for a basic Bloody."

The rich, creamy, bittersweet notes of a porter will stand up to robust umami and spicy ingredients found in modern iterations of bloody marys, including beef bouillon, clam juice, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, ginger, wasabi, and bell pepper juice. Since Miller High Life is almost as neutral as hard seltzer water, it'll lighten up a basic tomato, lemon, and Worcestershire sauce recipe without overpowering its flavors. The two types of beer have similar alcohol by volume (abv), although a splash of porter will feel much heavier and taste much richer. Either way, you're making this boozy brunch drink even boozier by coupling beer with a spirit.

While Whirley acknowledges their overlapping ingredients and similar pour-over methods, she says, "I prefer this method over the also-popular Michelada drink." A Michelada is a beer cocktail that can be super-garnished just like a fancy bloody mary. It consists of lager, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, hot pepper sauce, and sometimes clamato juice.