The 25 Absolute Best Garnishes For Your Next Bloody Mary

bloody mary with various garnishes
bloody mary with various garnishes - Static Media/Shutterstock

Whether you're only an occasional bruncher or a frequent flyer, there's a good chance you've seen a Bloody Mary on the menu — perhaps you've even sipped on one yourself. There's no denying that the Bloody Mary absolutely dominates the brunch-sphere; while it may not be quite as popular as the classic mimosa, it certainly comes in a close second place. And, unlike the mimosa, a Bloody Mary stands out above most other cocktails thanks to its salty, savory, and tomato-forward flavor profile.

Of course, a unique cocktail would be nothing without its garnishes, and the Bloody Mary certainly delivers on that end, too. You can keep things simple and top off your cocktail with olives, celery, or maybe even a cocktail onion; or you can get creative and welcome meat, cheese, and even fruit into the mix. There are few rules when it comes to garnishing your Bloody Mary, so if you're looking for some inspiration, these are some of the absolute best options for both homemade cocktails and those you might order at brunch.

Read more: 13 Liquors Your Home Bar Should Have


bloody mary with celery
bloody mary with celery - Master1305/Shutterstock

There is perhaps no garnish better suited for a Bloody Mary than good old celery. Is celery the most exciting option in the world? No, but it does complement the vegetable-forward flavors of the cocktail quite nicely, and since a good Bloody Mary should contain celery salt, a great Bloody Mary should come complete with a celery stalk, too.

The nice thing about celery is that it's mostly a neutral garnish. Sure, some cocktail enthusiasts might want a garnish with a little more pizzazz, but celery's humble crunch and earthy flavor perform just the way a garnish should -- it complements the cocktail without overpowering it.


bloody marys with olives
bloody marys with olives - Marie Sonmez Photography/Shutterstock

Salty, briny, and surprisingly rich, olives make for the perfect accompaniment to an equally salty Bloody Mary. Now, there are various types of olives out there, but luckily any flavor works with the savory cocktail, so even if you aren't a fan of blue cheese-stuffed green olives, perhaps buttery black olives might be more up to your speed.

Not only do olives add a nice finishing touch to the cocktail, but they serve as a nice snack once the drink is all gone. And, if you're slurping down a Bloody Mary while you eagerly await for your brunch order to arrive, then you might be extra grateful that you opted for stuffed olives as your garnish of choice.

Salt Rim

salt rim on bloody mary
salt rim on bloody mary - lwesteen/Shutterstock

There are some folks out there who like to keep things simple, and if you happen to be one of those people, then perhaps you're not big on extravagant cocktail garnishes. If so, then the humble salt rim will suffice for your next Bloody Mary, and though this means that you won't get a bonus snack with your cocktail, it does mean that you can focus on the drink itself without a toothpick poking you in the lip with every sip.

It's a good idea to opt for just a salt rim when you're pretty sure that your Bloody Mary is going to be an exceptional one. After all, the salt certainly won't get in the way of your perfect Bloody Mary, but it'll help enhance those already salty and savory flavors.


bowl of pickles
bowl of pickles - Maryia_K/Shutterstock

Ah, the classic pickle — crunchy, salty, tangy, and mouth-wateringly acidic in the best way possible. A pickle simply would not work with many cocktails, but with a Bloody Mary, it's basically a match made in heaven.

A pickle makes for the ideal Bloody Mary garnish for a couple of important reasons. First, it pairs well with the drink itself, offering its own punchiness while still allowing the cocktail to shine. Second, just about any flavor of pickle will work here; so keep things simple with classic dill, add a pop of sweetness with gherkins, or bust out your homemade ranch pickles and get to garnishing.


pineapple chunks in halved pineapple
pineapple chunks in halved pineapple - Zeljkosantrac/Getty Images

Fruit of all shapes and sizes seems like a no-brainer when it comes to garnishing cocktails. If we were talking about a piña colada or a strawberry margarita, then this would be exceptionally accurate. When it comes to Bloody Marys, however, fruit is ... less of an appealing option, but if there is one fruit that is up for such a daunting task, it would be pineapple.

We already know that pineapple works on salty and savory food thanks to its rightful place as a pizza topping, and the same logic applies to a Bloody Mary. Pineapple's sweet, acidic flavor works well with the tomato-forward cocktail, so it's one fruit garnish that you won't regret.

Lemon Or Lime Wedge

bloody marys with lime wheels
bloody marys with lime wheels - Mitchellpictures/Getty Images

We would like to offer our sincerest thank you to lemons and limes, as they really are the backbone of any great cocktail, both when it comes to mix-ins and garnishes. There's just something about a lemon wedge or a lime wheel that takes a cocktail from stunted and unfinished to polished, poised, and ready for action.

In terms of functionality, a lemon or lime wedge might not add a whole lot of flavor, though it certainly will add an acidic, subtly sour kick should you squeeze or mix it into your Bloody Mary. That acidity works well with the tomatoey nature of a Bloody Mary, so when in doubt about a garnish, reach for classic citrus for a safe bet.

Old Bay

Old Bay seasoning in pantry
Old Bay seasoning in pantry - Bloomberg/Getty Images

While Old Bay seasoning may be most closely associated with Maryland and seafood boils, the versatile blend has expanded far beyond the ocean and New England. In fact, you can sprinkle the Cajun seasoning on just about anything nowadays, including a Bloody Mary.

The thought of seasoning your cocktail might seem a bit odd at first, but when you consider Old Bay's ingredients — celery salt, pepper, and paprika to name a few — everything starts to make a bit more sense. Odds are that your Bloody Mary mix already has some sort of salt and pepper in it as is, so a sprinkle (or rim) of Old Bay simply helps hone in on those flavors.

Pickled Okra

pickled okra in bowl
pickled okra in bowl - Jackf/Getty Images

On its own, okra has a rather mild flavor and crisp, crunchy texture. While you certainly could garnish your Bloody Mary with a fresh okra pod, it might not be the tastiest or most exciting option in the world. Pickled okra, on the other hand? Now that's a garnish that we can get behind.

Like any pickled vegetable, okra takes on a tangy flavor while still maintaining that sharp crunch. Though it might not be the first thing to come to mind when it comes to topping off your Bloody Mary, okra is a viable contender and a good way to switch things up from plain old pickles.

Artichoke Hearts

artichokes and bowl artichoke hearts
artichokes and bowl artichoke hearts - Carlosgaw/Getty Images

Artichokes are notoriously a vegetable that you have to work hard at to get to the good stuff -- and by the good stuff, we mean the hearts. If you want to garnish your Bloody Mary with such an ingredient, we wouldn't recommend buying a whole artichoke, but instead opt for canned artichoke hearts. This canned variety of hearts will come ready to go, possibly even quartered, so all you need to do is stick one on a skewer. Artichoke hearts are surprisingly creamy, subtly sweet, and an all-around great garnish -- albeit a somewhat unexpected one -- for a Bloody Mary.

Cocktail Onions

bowl of cocktail onions
bowl of cocktail onions - Bhofack2/Getty Images

There are several types of onions out there, though we wouldn't recommend topping off your Bloody Mary with just any old onion. No, there's one type in particular that makes for a good garnish, and that would be the aptly-named cocktail onion, which is actually a pickled pearl onion.

While cocktail onions may be most common in the martini realm, there's no reason why you can't garnish your Bloody Mary with a couple of the pungent little bites. Cocktail onions are tangy and crisp, perfectly salty, and they add a surprisingly refined flair to just about any cocktail they grace.

Hot Sauce

Tabasco hot sauce bottle
Tabasco hot sauce bottle - Smith Collection/gado/Getty Images

If you prefer your Bloody Mary to have a bit of a kick, then there are a couple of ways to go about it, though the easiest would be to top it off with hot sauce. Simply dab a few drops of hot sauce right on top and voila -- you're good to go.

Another perk of using hot sauce as a garnish is that you can control the level of spice. If you want a slight kick, then just add a drop or two. If you want your mouth to be on fire, then go ahead and add as much as your heart desires.

Pickled Carrots

pickled baby carrots in jar
pickled baby carrots in jar - Fudio/Getty Images

There's nothing stopping you from garnishing your Bloody Mary with a raw carrot and calling it a day, but we can't pretend like that'd be the tastiest option in the world. Pickled carrots, on the other hand, offer flavors that are a little more exciting, with the acid from the pickling brine working well with the flavors of the cocktail itself.

Pickled carrots also have a slightly nicer texture than regular carrots. Notoriously very crunchy, raw carrots might make for a garnish that's just too intense texturally. Their pickled brethren, however, offer just the right amount of crunch.


cucumber slices
cucumber slices - PixaHub/Shutterstock

Cucumbers may not be as exciting as pickles, but we think they still deserve a place on your next Bloody Mary. After all, cucumbers are light and refreshing, and they won't skew the flavor of your cocktail or outshine the drink in any way.

For those who hate pickles of all types and are tired of receiving a Bloody Mary adorned with pickled this and pickled that, then cucumbers are especially a nice, neutral option. Sure, it can be exciting to adorn your cocktail with extravagant or even outlandish garnishes, but sometimes simplicity is best, and cucumber certainly offers a flavor and texture that's nice and simple.

Bell Pepper

various colors chopped bell pepper
various colors chopped bell pepper - Jamesmcq24/Getty Images

Bell peppers -- technically fruit though treated like a vegetable, everyone always seems to have them on hand yet never knows what to do with them. If you are in a similar boat and need to clear out some space in your produce drawer ASAP, chop that bell pepper up and use it to garnish a Bloody Mary!

The beauty of bell peppers is that, unlike many other types of pepper, they have a subtly floral taste that actually makes them much more flavorful than one might initially give them credit for. Along with a certain crispness and juiciness that you just can't beat, these oft-overlooked peppers deserve a spot on your cocktail.

Cherry Tomatoes

Bloody Mary with cherry tomatoes
Bloody Mary with cherry tomatoes - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

If a flavor isn't broken, there's no reason to fix it or even add to it, and that's the mentality behind garnishing a Bloody Mary with cherry tomatoes. Is it overkill? Perhaps slightly, seeing as you already are sucking down a beverage that is very tomato-forward in flavor. But, again, if the flavor is good, then why not double down on it?

Not only do cherry tomatoes offer even more tomatoey goodness, but they also offer a slight sweetness and a whole lot of juiciness. If there's anything better than biting into a bursting cherry tomato, then we surely haven't discovered it yet, so do yourself a favor and indulge in such an experience while enjoying your next Bloody Mary.

Cocktail Shrimp

Bloody Marys with cocktail shrimp
Bloody Marys with cocktail shrimp - Nature's Charm/Shutterstock

There are very, very few cocktails out there that would make sense with shrimp as a garnish. In fact, we'd argue that the Bloody Mary is one of a select few cocktails courageous enough to take on such a bizarre garnish, and successfully at that. But alas, cocktail shrimp not only works as a Bloody Mary garnish, but it somehow makes perfect sense.

If you're not completely sold on cocktail shrimp as a garnish, picture dunking a juicy little shrimp into cocktail sauce. It's an alluring image, right? Well, a Bloody Mary contains similarly punchy flavors, so if you're open-minded enough to give shrimp a chance, we think you might end up liking it after all.


Bloody Mary with bacon slice
Bloody Mary with bacon slice - Alexander Prokopenko/Shutterstock

Since you're probably waiting for a plate of bacon and eggs as you sip your Bloody Mary at brunch, why not get a headstart and opt for bacon as a garnish? Indeed, everyone's favorite crispy treat makes for a rather splendid cocktail garnish, especially since those ultra-rich and salty flavors work oh-so-well with the savoriness of the cocktail itself.

Another perk of a cocktail with a side of bacon is that it will hold you over until your actual meal arrives. There's nothing worse than feeling hangry at brunch, and a single bacon slice may be just the cure to hold you over during such trying times.

Cubed Cheese

cubed cheese in a pile
cubed cheese in a pile - Etiennevoss/Getty Images

It's pretty hard to resist cheese in any form, and even better yet when it's cubed cheese perched prettily on top of your Bloody Mary. Cheese might not bring crunchiness or brightness to the table, but it does bring plenty of salty, savory goodness, and the combination of tomato and cheese really can't be beaten.

Also, unless you are completely cheese-averse, cheese as a garnish offers a little something for everyone. Not a fan of cheddar? No problem, opt for fresh mozzarella balls instead. Do you want something with a little kick? Cube up some pepper Jack and you're good to go!


bloody mary with herbs
bloody mary with herbs - Ryzhkov/Getty Images

If you're looking for an easy but guaranteed way to freshen up your Bloody Mary, then just a simple sprig of herbs will do the trick. Not only will herbs make your cocktail look prettier, but they'll also add some subtle flavor should you choose to stir them into your drink.

The beauty of garnishing a Bloody Mary with herbs is that there are quite a few options out there, and you really can't go wrong no matter what you choose. Basil would complement the tomato-flavored beverage nicely, whereas other herbs like cilantro, parsley, or even dill would add bright and bold flavors with little effort.


jalapeno peppers on plate
jalapeno peppers on plate - Carey Jaman/Shutterstock

Jalapeños really are perfect peppers — they're spicy but not too spicy, perfectly crisp, and play well with other foods and beverages. If you're looking to spice up your Bloody Mary, then you can't go wrong by tacking on a couple of slices of jalapeño.

Unlike many garnishes that would only work well either fresh or pickled, jalapeño is a unique option that would work well either way. If you want a Bloody Mary that is nice and vibrant, then fresh jalapeño is the best option; if you want a garnish that provides some tangy flavor along with spice, then go the pickled route.

Chicken Tenders

pile of chicken tenders
pile of chicken tenders - Veselovaelena/Getty Images

If you've ever been to a restaurant or bar that serves super decked-out Bloody Marys, then perhaps you won't be too surprised to see chicken tenders on this list. Indeed, the easiest way to take your cocktail from boring to borderline outlandish is to get creative with the garnishes, and there are fewer options more creative than a piece of fried chicken.

Before you knock the idea, it's important to consider the logistics. Chicken tenders certainly don't clash with the flavors of a Bloody Mary, and if you're the type who likes to dunk their tenders in ketchup, then it only makes sense that you pair the fried food with a tomato-flavored beverage.

Hard-Boiled Egg

plate of halved boiled eggs
plate of halved boiled eggs - Milanfoto/Getty Images

Eggs dominate the breakfast and brunch-sphere when it comes to food, and Bloody Marys dominate when it comes to cocktails, so why not combine the two? If you're looking to get a little boost of protein in with your cocktail, then there's no better option than a good old egg. We wouldn't recommend trying to garnish your cocktail with scrambled eggs, but a hard-boiled egg or deviled egg are both viable options. While it might not be your first idea for the best use of an egg, it's no doubt on theme, and it'll give you a little snack as you wait for your actual entree to arrive.

Beef Jerky

beef jerky strips
beef jerky strips - Juanmonino/Getty Images

When you think about it, Bloody Marys and beef jerky share similar flavor notes. Both are salty and savory and more often than not, they tend to have peppery undertones, too. Because they're surprisingly similar in flavor, it only makes sense to top off your Bloody Mary with a big old chunk of beef jerky.

Beef jerky certainly isn't the most popular cocktail garnish out there, and some might not even consider it a garnish at all. But for those who want to get super creative with their Bloody Marys, this meaty option just might be the perfect finishing touch.

Little Smokies

bowl of little smokie sausages
bowl of little smokie sausages - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Those who have ever been to a Midwestern family gathering are likely all too familiar with the Crock Pot full of little smokies, and you've probably enjoyed a bite (or several) of the tasty little sausages. Well, little smokies are ready to break free from the slow cooker and make their way right over to your Bloody Mary.

Like any meat garnish, little smokies (or any sausage, for that matter) would really only work on a Bloody Mary. A Manhattan with a little smokie garnish? They just don't go together. A Bloody Mary with a little smokie garnish? It's so crazy that it just might actually work, and quite well at that.


slice of pizza with toppings
slice of pizza with toppings - Milanfoto/Getty Images

That leftover pizza in your fridge is begging for one thing, and it's not just to be eaten ... it's to serve as a garnish for your next Bloody Mary. Yes, we have reached the point of full absurdity when it comes to cocktail garnishes, but when you think about it, pizza is sort of the end-all-be-all garnish.

Depending on what sort of toppings you like on your slice, there's a good chance that it all works well with a Bloody Mary, from the olives to the cheese to the tomato sauce itself. While the crust might get a little soggy, it's a small price to pay for daring to be so bold with your Bloody Mary at brunchtime.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.