The Basics Tips & Tricks

The 7 Best Tomato Juices for Bloody Marys, According to Bartenders

Bar pros share their go-to for this brunch staple.

Seven different kinds of tomato juice packages against a sage green background / Laura Sant

Iconic brunch staple, frequent hangover remedy, and ultimate boozy meal-in-a-glass, the Bloody Mary has gone through countless adaptations through the years. And it continues to evolve. The Bloody Mary can be a fairly simple drink to build or extremely involved. What is certain is that if you ask a bartender what is essential to make a great Bloody Mary, you’ll get an assorted mix of impassioned opinions. 

The most credible origins of the Bloody Mary date back to the early 1920s in Paris at Harry’s New York Bar with a bartender named Fernand “Pete” Petiot. When Prohibition was repealed in the States, it is said that Petiot brought this savory sipper back with him to his new gig at King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, and the drink really took off.

The savory balance of citrus, seasoning, and heat is clearly key to a well-made Bloody Mary. But it’s all about that base. The most important ingredient in a Bloody Mary is arguably what makes up the majority of the drink: tomato juice. And who better than professional drinks slingers to recommend exactly which brands to buy?

We asked various top bartending and spirits industry professionals from around the country to recommend their favorites to mix with—and why they’re worth buying. 

Here are 7 of the top picks from bartenders for the best tomato juice for Bloody Marys.

  • Sacramento ($13, 46 oz)

    Sacramento Tomato Juice / Laura Sant

    Sacramento tomato juice is the gold standard for many bartenders who want to start with a blank slate. The brand has been around since 1931 and has been a part of the country's largest privately owned tomato processor for four generations. 

    Sacramento’s rich tomato flavor has the right amount of sweetness and acidity, with a texture that is substantial but not too heavy.

    What the Pros Say

    “Personally (and professionally), I want my Bloody Mary to be savory and spicy, with a touch of tomato sweetness. So I’ve always looked for tomato juice that can be a blank canvas to create a flavorful Bloody Mary, and Sacramento tomato juice is just that. It has a natural tomato sweetness that we enhance with tomato paste (which also adds viscosity), as well as balsamic vinegar to add a sweet tangy and tart component. 

    We bump up the savory umami notes with Maggi (among other things). To add spice, we use our team’s go-to hot sauce, Crystal, plus a house blend of peppers: árbol, Carolina Reaper, and pasilla (among others). Sacramento gives the perfect tomato backbone for us to enhance and play with to make a delicious Bloody Mary.” —Brooks Moyer, head bartender, Cool World in Brooklyn, New York

    “For the classic recipe, you cannot go wrong with Sacramento. A few years ago when Rambler [in San Francisco] opened, I compared Sacramento, fresh pureed tomatoes, and Campbell’s. Sacramento just had the right combo of texture and acidity.” —Simone Mims, beverage consultant, San Francisco

    “Sacramento is OG for classic Bloody Marys. It’s straightforward enough to give a neutral base so you can experiment with your own recipe.” —Althea Codamon, general manager and beverage director, Aita Restaurant & Mayflower Bar, Brooklyn, New York

  • R.W. Knudsen Organic Tomato Juice ($6, 32 oz)

    R.W. Knudsen Organic Tomato Juice / Laura Sant

    This brand got its start producing all-natural juices on a farm in California in 1961. More than 60 years later the company produces over 125 different products, many of which still use organic ingredients. 

    R.W. Knudsen Organic is another tomato juice with a devoted following, especially for those looking to use organic and sustainably produced products. 

    What the Pros Say

    “I like [R.W. Knudsen Organic Tomato Juice] because it’s not from concentrate and has a thick, almost tomato puree quality. When you mix tomato juice with spirit and ice, it really dilutes, so I want a juice that maintains rich tomato flavor and texture as much as possible. To be honest, I prefer pureeing something into the juice to really bump up that texture, but that’s another question entirely.” —Jennifer Colliau, owner, Small Hand Foods

  • Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix ($12, 59 oz)

    Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix / Laura Sant

    For those who want their tomato juice to come pre-seasoned, Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix is a favorite amongst consumers and bartenders alike. This mix is a blend of seven vegetable juices that, besides tomato, includes celery, beet, and carrot. The brand adds a complex assortment of spices, as well as Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.

    What the Pros Say

    “Unless you’re making something special and particular, like the Bloodys at Prune, Zing Zang with some adjustments to taste is going to get you there 90% of the time. It's honestly a better, cheaper, more efficient product than making your own unless you’re going for something specific. It’s a lovely base and if you’re doing real volume, a lifesaver. A lot of people put [in] herculean effort to make house-made Bloody Mary mixes that honestly could have just been Zing Zang.” —Lauren Frazier, bartender, formerly of Nitecap, New York City

  • Clamato ($7, 64 oz)

    Clamato Tomato Cocktail / Laura Sant

    If you’re looking to take your Bloody Mary up a briny notch, look no further than the national drink of Canada: the Bloody Caesar. Clamato is branded as a “tomato cocktail” but is most recognized as the official mixer of a Bloody Caesar. With its combination of tomato juice, spices, and clam broth, it makes for an especially savory cocktail. 

    While the Caesar may be claimed by Canada, Clamato is a Californian invention. It launched production in the late 1960s and was said to be inspired by Manhattan clam chowder, which is tomato-based.

    What the Pros Say

    “I feel like Bloody Mary mix is like ketchup; everyone wants to make their own but the consumer is always just looking for the Heinz. Clamato juice for the win and for Caesars! I’m Canadian so it’s standard issue back home.” —Tony D’Agostino, division brand manager, Edrington

    “Clamato in a traditional Caesar is the way. There is nothing better in the world.” —Evan Charest, emerging brands market manager, Brown-Forman

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  • V8 ($24, 64 oz)

    V8 Vegetable Juice / Laura Sant

    Some bartenders swear by the original vegetable cocktail juice for their Bloody Mary base: V8. This mixture of eight vegetable juices, including tomato, was originally created by a father and son duo in 1933 during the Great Depression as a way to make vegetables accessible to more people. Little did they know that years later, bartenders would be boozing up their veggie health drink for brunch shifts across the land. 

    What the Pros Say

    “There’s a lot of people on vegan diets in our neighborhood so we have to stay clear of Clamato, premade mixes, and regular Worcestershire sauce. I, myself, prefer canned tomato juice as a base, but at the bar, I’ve been using V8 and added our own spice blend with hot sauce, vegan Worcestershire, brine, etc. And horseradish. I know that one is a hot topic too!” —Sofia Present, beverage director and general manager, Airmail, Miami Beach, Florida 

    “I use 2:1 V8 to Sacramento Tomato Juice. It adds some depth in my house mix that isn’t there using straight tomato juice.” —Lance Bowman, beverage director, Pilsen Yards and The Alderman, Chicago

  • Filthy Foods Bloody Mary Mix ($14, 32 oz)

    Filthy Foods Bloody Mary Mix / Laura Sant

    Filthy Foods Bloody Mary Mix is a newer brand. Made from not-from-concentrate tomatoes, various herbs, and a punch of spice from cayenne pepper and horseradish, each batch of mix comes in portable pouches of various sizes. Since launching just a few years ago, the brand has become a favorite of bartenders looking for an all-natural mix with lightweight and sustainable packaging.

    What the Pros Say

    “At TPC Sawgrass, we use Filthy Bloody Mary Mix in our banquet program and in our on-course beverage program. The versatility of the packaging that Filthy offers is the perfect match for our programs, as the 8-ounce pouches allow us to control waste and deliver fresh products to guests!” —Jon Mateer, beverage manager, TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 

    “Filthy Bloody Mary Mix is by far the best-tasting Bloody Mary mix. It’s made with real ingredients and no artificial flavors, [and] the packaging is genius, recyclable, portable for travel, and not bulky. I use Filthy for all my events.” —Sadiyyah Iddeen, bartender and owner of Trendy Tending, Lawrenceville, Georgia

    “Our program at Asadolife depends on Filthy Foods Bloody Mary Mix. Small packaging and fantastic mix.” —Kelley Fitzsimonds, beverage director for Asadolife in Saint Augustine, Florida

  • Pomì Tomato Juice ($27, 25 oz, pack of 6)

    Pomì Tomato Juice / Laura Sant

    Tomatoes are arguably one of the most important ingredients in Italian cuisine so, naturally, Italy is going to have the quality stuff. For 40 years, the Italian brand Pomì has been devoted to producing the highest quality tomato products, from whole chopped tomatoes to sauces and purees. Its tomato juice is not from concentrate and is made entirely from ripe Italian tomatoes, sourced from Northern Italy, and processed and packaged on property.

    What the Pros Say

    “For packaged, I love Pomì brand Italian tomato juice with one anchovy, Aleppo pepper, and basil blended in. If you’re going homemade, summertime Virginia-grown Hanover tomatoes are incredible.” —Laura Unterberg, beverage director The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club, Nashville, Tennessee