Six Bloody Maria Variations From Herradura’s “Legends Challenge”

Masterful remixes of the tequila-powered brunch cocktail from some of the best bartenders in the US

The cocktails on signature menus move around as quickly as the bartenders making them. Some sippers have moved on from the longstanding staple Bloody Mary to its tequila-based sibling the Bloody Maria. Last week’s Tequila Herradura Legends bartender challenge took aim at Bloody Maria as one of three intense (and flavorful) competitions. Rather than lump on some garnish, the 26 contestants sought out either the perfect end result or one that was a wild departure. The six below all feature Tequila Herradura but everything else varies almost completely. We selected recipes from the three winners of the overall competition and the rising star award-winner. For good measure, we also included two personal favorites. The Bloody Maria might not dominate brunch menus yet, but with Halloween and Día de los Muertos on the horizon, there’s no better time to give one a try than now.

Miriam’s Envy

This year’s overall winner, Naomi Levy, hails from Boston’s Capo. Her Bloody Maria cocktail features a custom Cucumber Zhoug mix that dazzles with everything from sherry vinegar to cumin and Hungarian wax peppers.

2 oz Herradura Silver Tequila

2 oz tomato water

4 oz Cucumber Zhoug mix (recipe below)

In a mixing glass, combine Herradura, tomato water and Cucumber Zhoug mix. Add ice and roll. Pour into sumac salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with a cucumber spear, lemon twist and cherry tomato. Serve in highball glass.

Cucumber Zhoug Mix

1 English cucumber, chopped

2 Hungarian wax peppers, seeds removed, chopped

1 long hot green pepper, seeds removed, chopped

1 cup parsley

1.5 cups cilantro

3 oz lemon juice

3 oz sherry vinegar

2 oz pomegranate molasses

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

6-8 grinds black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree on high until liquefied. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Mariachi Wake Up Call

From San Francisco’s Tradition, Christian Suzuki-Orellana’s personal Bloody Mary mix—with toasted sesame and celery salt—paired perfectly with a reposado. The Amontillado Sherry, however, pushes this one over the edge and into the realm of wonder. Suzuki-Orellana took second place in the overall competition.

1.5 oz Herradura Reposado Tequila

.5 oz Amontillado Sherry

4 oz Bloody Mary mix (recipe below)

.5 oz lemon juice

1 rosemary stem

2 drops sesame seed oil

Add all ingredients to two large tins and roll 6 times. Serve in a Collins glass. Garnish with smoked rosemary stem and sprinkled sesame.

Bloody Mary Mix

3 cups tomato juice

2 tbsp hot sauce (not Tabasco)

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp toasted sesame

Combine all ingredients and blend

The Red Right Hand

Bartender and third place finalist Ryan Puckett’s rim of signature Nashville Hot Chicken Salt is only the start to an uncommon concoction with a kick. From black coffee to ancho chile powder, there’s a lot going on and it all works together. Puckett hails from Nashville’s Henley.

2 oz. Herradura Silver Tequila

7 oz Pacifico

.5 oz lime juice

.5 oz orange juice

3 oz batch mix

Combine batch mix with Herradura Silver, lime and orange juice in a Collins glass half-rimmed with Nashville Hot Chicken Salt. Stir together, and garnish with a charred pineapple wedge. Serve with Pacifico beer on side as chaser.

Batch Mix

32 oz tomato juice

16 oz charred pineapple juice

4 oz black coffee

2 oz apple cider vinegar

2.5 tsp Ancho chile powder

.5 tsp mustard powder

.5 tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp onion powder

4 tsp salt

.25 tsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and blend

Nashville Hot Chicken Salt

3 tbsp Cayenne pepper powder

1 tbsp light brown sugar

.5 tsp hot paprika

.5 tsp garlic powder

3 tbsp salt + black pepper to taste

Ascenso De Los Muertos

Complex, bright and bursting with flavor, the “Ascenso De Los Muertos” is Andrew Larson’s play on the Bloody Maria. Larson, who won this year’s rising talent “one to watch” award, is based at Heartwood Provisions in Seattle.

1.5 oz Herradura Silver Tequila

.5 oz fresh lime juice

2 oz fresh pineapple juice

.5 oz olive brine

Pinch black salt

5 charred sweet sunburst cherry tomatoes

Charred onion powder

2 dashes Scrappy’s Firewater

Pilsner beer

4-5 leaves cilantro

4 rounds cucumber

Burn tomatoes with torch. Combine all ingredients except charred onion powder in tin. Shake. Double strain. Top off with Pilsner Beer. Sprinkle charred onion powder. Serve in a Collins glass. Garnish with cucumber wheel, cilantro leaf, charred cherry tomato.

Recovery Road

For all there is to drink in Las Vegas, the city went a surprisingly long time without decent craft cocktail bars. Joining a growing roster of mixed drink havens, The Dorsey at the Venetian in Las Vegas is the latest from Attaboy’s Sam Ross. Nick Hipwell represented the spot and his Bloody Maria variation brought forward an extraordinary freshness.

2 oz Herradura Silver Tequila

3-4 slices of cucumber

5-6 pieces of parsley

3 oz homemade Bloody Mary mix

Prepare Bloody Mary mix. Add 2 oz tequila to shaker. Add cucumbers and parsley. Add ice and shake. Fine strain into empty highball glass. Add 3 oz Bloody Mary mix. Add ice and stir. Garnish with cucumber wheel with parsley stalk sticking through

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix

1 cup tomato juice

.5 oz lemon juice

1 oz grapefruit juice

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

.5 tsp celery salt

.5 tsp pepper

1 oz agave nectar

1 tsp chipotle Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients and blend

By Our Lady Maria

Bar manager and head of the cocktail program at Mes Que in Buffalo, Rachel Wright’s talent and flair manifests in multi-sensory fashion. With the By Our Lady Maria, she binds spice, savory notes and citrus for a powerful and potent beverage.

2 oz Herradura Reposado

1.5 oz fire roasted corn milk

.75 oz acid adjusted roasted tomatillo

1.5 oz “pickle back” brine

2 dashes habanero bitters (Mes Que makes their own)

4 dashes Holy Trinity tincture (ancho, Pasilla, guajillo peppers with Herradura as base)

Build in tin. Shake and single strain. Garnish with candied hibiscus flower, banaa leaf and sal de gusano.

“Pickle Back” Brine

Pickled onions





Agave nectar




White wine vinegar

Images courtesy of Herradura