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The Bloody Mary (On a Budget)

The Bloody Mary (On a Budget)

Welcome to the first post of my new Bartender On A Budget blogging series!

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It is such a treat to check out the new fancy bar that opened up in downtown, especially when you’re served a specialty cocktail that was shaken, and served in a perfectly chilled martini glass. The bartender usually performs his craft with a finesse that you hope to achieve one day.

He or she also uses high-end spirits and liqueurs, and fresh ingredients, with fancy tools, albeit for an arm and a leg. But what about the rest of us that want to mix cocktails at home? Or want to give our refined taste buds a break without breaking the bank?

Well, friends, let’s set our budget for some cheap ingredients, MacGyver some stuff at home together for our cocktail equipment, and pour it into some random drink vessel, like a cup, or even a bowl; we are going to have fun. Each of us has a Bartender-on-a-budget deep down inside.

Do you want to mix drinks, but you just can’t afford all of the ingredients and just cannot break the bank? Well, I have some life hacks, or rather, drinking hacks for you.

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The Bloody Mary on a Budget

Alright, so you just do not have the cash to make yourself an enjoyable cocktail this weekend. Well, hey, no fear – I have you covered.

This week, we’re going to make a fun concoction: The Bloody Mary.

Will it be traditional? No, I am sorry. Each time this is made, it will be completely different as you and I will be using whatever is on hand.

We’re going to roll a “Makeshift Bloody Mary,” and it’s going to be terrific. Why? Because you’re going to feel like a badass MacGyver, treating yourself or a friend/significant other and they are going to hold you with admiration in their eyes.



First, go to a liquor store and look for those mini-bottles of Vodka laying around. They are usually 50 ML or nearly 3/4 ounces. (Almost a shot!). Typically, you’re going to want to have two, so then we have 1 1/2 ounces for our bloody mary. But if not, whatever, just cut the ingredients list in half! If you have a little vodka laying around, fill it up in your shot glass and throw it in!

Each drink needs about 30ml – just a shot’s worth.

Tomato Juice

The next ingredient we’re going to need is tomato juice. About 3 ounces will do. Or three individual shots.

My buddy Mohan V says:  I’ve found that fresh juice works best, because when I make it, I usually roast the tomatoes over a high open flame, until the skin chars.
Once you blend them together, the whole juice gets this really nice smoky character.Opinion is divided on whether or not to strain the tomato juice (some enjoy the thick consistency), so try it out for yourself both ways. Let us know which way you prefer!

Salt and Pepper

The Spice of life. Here, we can throw in salt and pepper. And if you want to get creative, which I think you are, feel free to experiment with a dash or two of Paprika, or any other spice that you like!


Typically, we’ll want 2 dashes of tabasco sauce and 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

“But what if I don’t have that, Joe?” Well, hell, let’s throw in some spicy sauce in there instead for some flavoring. How about curry sauce? Or a dash of hot sauce? Guys, let’s get really creative with this drink.

Fruit Juices

Hopefully, you have a Lemon. Just a singular lemon. Cut it into 4 wedges, and squeeze in two of the wedges juices into your drink.

Make It!

This drink is good because you do not need any cocktail equipment whatsoever. You do need two cups and ice. Put in your ingredients and some ice into one cup. Now slide it into your other cup. And then slide that back into your other cup. Good! You’re rolling a cocktail! What Fun!

You’ll want to do this 7 or 8 times back and forth. Now pour your drink into a tall-ish glass!

If you want to get a little more ambitious, look around your kitchen for a few tapered glasses. You’ll need them to fit snugly over each other, like this.

Add the ice, put all your ingredients into one glass, stick the other one top of it, and give it a few shakes.  Try it slowly at first, then try to build some momentum. Make sure to keep them secure, you don’t want a mess!

Once, you’re done,  you’re ready to pour!


Lastly, we’ll need a garnish. Something to make it feel that much healthier.

No stick of Celery? Maybe if you have a fresh-ish Lemon in the fridge, let’s cut a lemon wheel and stick it on the rim of the drink. Or perhaps, you want to make an island: Put that lemon wheel in the middle of your drink.

Mohan V: You could also gently crush and add some fresh basil when rolling or shaking your drink – it’s known to go very well with tomato, and will add some nice herby character to it. You can use the larger, prettier leaves for garnishing as well.

If you do not have either, think of a green vegetable that you could slide into the drink.

Now, our drinking vessel!


Now, our drinking vessel. My advice would be to pick any glass you feel comfortable drinking out of, and put it in the freezer before making your drink.

Don’t underestimate a frozen glass – it keeps the drink cool longer, gives a pleasant sensation when sipping, and it looks pretty amazing as well.

Once you’re sure all the ingredients are mixed, bring your strainer back out and pour.

Garnish with whatever you wish – a lime wheel, a stick of celery, a sprig of basil, whatever – and your Bloody Mary is ready.

This article remains incomplete without your involvement – try making one at home, and you’ll realize how easy and delicious home bartending can be! And be the soul of every good party, when people realize you can make some mad drinks!

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Special thanks to Mohan for featuring this post on his website, Drunk For A Penny! Go give their page a peruse!

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

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The Curious Cocktailian

Joseph Plant is a blogger, bartender, musician and anthropology student living in Canada.

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