The Commander’s Palace Bloody Mary

This bloody good drink is one of nearly 60 recipes in a new book about the South’s favorite brunch cocktail

Photo: Eric Medsker, Courtesy of Ten Speed Press

Did a Parisian bartender invent the Bloody Mary, as many cocktail historians maintain, or was it a comedian with a hangover in Palm Beach, Florida, as folklore claims? Is the best garnish celery, olives, pickled okra, or all the above, plus bacon? Bartenders and drinkers may argue over the origins and ingredients of Bloodies, but no one disagrees that the cocktail is a beloved staple of just about any Southern occasion. In the fun new book, The Bloody Mary, bartender and author Brian Bartels answers some of those questions, while breaking down every element of the tomato-juice-and-vodka classic, from bar tools to shaking techniques (Bartels prefers a gentle “roll” to a vigorous shake). He also tracked down nearly sixty Bloody Mary recipes from restaurants and bars across the world.

Included in the lineup is a Southern favorite—the Commander’s Palace concoction favored by generations of New Orleans residents and visitors—slightly simplified for at-home mixologists. “Our kitchen makes our Bloody Mary mix every couple of days from scratch,” says Ferrel Dugas, Bar Chef at Commander’s. “We blend celery, carrots, and fresh tomatoes, plus horseradish to taste, and then let it marinate.” Although Dugas doesn’t give away all the secrets of the Commander’s version, she does divulge two key ingredients: Creole seasoning and Crystal hot sauce. Get a little fancy and top yours off like Commander’s does: “We turn fresh local sugarcane into skewer swords,” Dugas says, “and garnish with peppers and pickled okra.”


    • Creole seasoning (Commander’s recommends Tony Chachere’s)

    • 1 1/2 oz. vodka (Commander’s recommends Crescent, Magnolia, or Tito’s)

    • 1/2 cup V8 or tomato juice

    • 1 tsp. prepared horseradish

    • 1 tsp. or 2 splashes of Worcestershire sauce

    • 4 dashes Crystal hot sauce

    • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce*

    • Garnishes: sugarcane stick**, jalapeno pepper, cherry pepper, pickled okra, freshly ground black pepper, and coarse sea salt


  1. Coat the rim of a pint glass with creole seasoning. Fill with ice.

  2. Combine all remaining ingredients except garnishes in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

  3. Roll the ingredients back and forth into another shaker 3 times, and then strain into the rimmed glass of ice.

  4. Garnish as desired. If you like extra seasoning, top off the drink with a pinch of freshly ground pepper and coarse salt.

    *Author Bartels likes to add two shakes of Tabasco for a double dose of Louisiana heat.
    **At the restaurant, bartenders skewer garnishes on a piece of sugarcane. At home, a cocktail pick will do.

Recipe from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Excerpted from The Bloody Mary by Brian Bartels