Bloody Derby (Bourbon Bloody Mary)

Say hello to my little friend - The Bloody Derby

This gray morning in NYC, I grabbed a leash and left the phone at home.  Normally I multitask and check my emails, facebook and morning texts.  Or plug in my headphones and use the time to mentally prep for my day.  But this morning the dog and I looked out at the cool water that separates Manhattan from Jersey as we walked in relative silence.  And when I got home I left the phone by the bed and went into the kitchen to tackle my to-do’s, the things I really love.

It was that kind of morning.  I needed a break from technology.

Now, this recipe wasn’t made from a place of melancholy or rage against the machine.  I just happened to want to put this recipe together for a while, and the gorgeous tomatoes and peppers in my kitchen can’t withstand the humidity to make it to the weekend.  I made the tomato reduction for the juice in the morning before grabbing lunch with a beloved cousin (hi Jon!) and set myself for a scandalous mid-day cocktail upon coming home.  No, this isn’t a habit.  But I’m listening to speakeasy music from the roaring 20s and I can’t throw this delicious concoction away!  I have to drink it!  The sacrifices we make, I know.

Posting the cocktail – the first beverage on The Dusty Baker – was actually inspired by a fun first date I had a few weeks ago.  I introduced the New Man to the joy that is putting bourbon in a top-notch Bloody Mary instead of vodka (I lived on the border of Kentucky while working at a theatre in Cincinnati for a bit and fell in love with bourbon distilleries.  And bacon. And bluegrass).  We were at the lounge in the Ace Hotel, which has a delicious bar.  I had a feeling they would serve up a good Bloody Mary.  And, in my dusty little opinion, the spicy mixture of tomato, horseradish and citrus is so much better complimented with bourbon than vodka.

New Man asked the mixologist if he had heard a name for it.  He hadn’t.  Googling brought up nothing.  Throughout the long, fun getting-to-know-you conversation we came up with a few options, and settled on Bloody Derby.

So while I’m obviously not the first to put bourbon in a Bloody Mary, you heard it here first, folks.  September 28th, 2011.  Spread it around like wild-fire.

Talley ho.

Like a Bloody Mary... but BETTER!

The Bloody Derby.

Notes:  There’s a lot of “to tastes” in this recipe, because obviously a lot depends on the kind of tomato juice you use and how generally spicy you like your cocktails.

I’m Azorean Portuguese and Italian, so I like my food and drinks with a spicy kick.   I started with halves of the spice proportions below, and kept adding, eventually exceeding these proportions.  And if you want it a bit darker, throw in a dash of Worcestershire sauce.  I just don’t keep it on hand.

I made my tomato juice old-school style: meaning I don’t own a sieve and so literally pressed cooked tomatoes, garlic and onions with my hands through a strainer.  Worked for me.  But if you don’t want to make your own, I suggest either something rich and organic or Clamato, which is what is usually used in Bloody Caesars. 

This combo makes a sweet and dark cocktail, with a bit of smoke.  Big fan. Welcome to Kentucky, folks. Via Washington Heights.

Oh, also, props go out to Rosemarried and Boulder Locavore, who often have delicious cocktails amongst their incredible recipes and inspire me to want to start paying more attention to my beverages.  Stop by to see their versions of this classic cocktail or to learn how to flavor your own liquor.  I’m a big fan of these ladies – please show them some love.


  • 4 cubes ice
  • 4 oz tomato juice
  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon (my favorite is Willets Reserve.  But if it’s too fancy of a bourbon for you to mix, Makers Mark works just dandy)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated horseradish to taste
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic to taste
  • pinch of kosher salt to taste
  • freshly cracked tricolor pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco to taste
  • 2 wedges of lemon
  • 2 wedges of lime
  • celery and carrot sticks
  • adorable sweet baby peppers


  • Mix ice, tomato juice, bourbon, horseradish, garlic, salt, pepper, Tobasco, juice of one lemon wedge and juice of one lime wedge in a chilled glass.
  • Garnish with remaining citrus, celery and carrot sticks, and sweet peppers.
  • Drink with brunch outdoors, while listening to old speakeasy music, or when perusing the Sunday Times.


  1. Ok, Rock Star, thanks for the accolades but way to sprint out of the cocktail gate with this one. As I was reading I was mentally trying to dial in on the flavor profile (my favorite mental party game) and by the end, I think I got it and it sounds genius! Never in a million years about I think to combine these two ideas but I think it would be great. I’m a bourbon l-o-v-e-r completely but love the spice of a Bloody Mary. I will admit as I’m typing I’m REALLY thinking ‘do I have all the ingredients to make this right now?’. Will be trying it and reporting back. Excellent post and again, humbly, thanks for the nod.

  2. rosemarried says:

    You’re so great. First off, a Bloody Bourbon? Genius! I’ve never heard of it before so I’m definitely crediting you with its invention. :) Second: you are too kind. Thanks for the kind words! Gosh, when it comes to cocktails I should not even be in the same category as Toni! :)

  3. Paula says:

    I love the name you came up with and it is very fitting for the drink! Also, love all the prep detail you took the time to put in prior to your actual recipe. Another blogger, Barb at recently started a Happy Hour Friday segment where she makes a new cocktail each week. You may like to check it out seeing as you are wanting to add more drinks to your site. Your Bloody Derby has you off to a running start for sure. Have a great weekend!

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