Eight Experts Answer Why They Love Bloody Marys

On January 18, 2020, an elite panel of judges from across the United States will convene in Los Angeles to judge the ultimate bloody mary mix competition. The 3rd annual Drunken Tomato Awards will put mixes from around the world to the test, and each judge will sample multiple mixes to determine who has the best bloody mary mix in the world.

Meet the 2020 Drunken Tomato Awards Judges

From extreme garnishes and unique variations to a love of tomatoes and all things brunch, the reasons for loving this savory cocktail are as varied as the drink itself. But how does one become an expert bloody mary judge? It starts with a passion for the drink itself. So we asked each judge why they love bloody marys. Please meet the 2020 Drunken Tomato Awards judges!


Liz McCray, Founder of Bloody Mary Obsessed | San Diego, Califoria

Why do you love bloody marys?

As a lover of all things tomatoes, savory, and salty, the bloody mary cocktail was made for me! I love the taste of bloody marys, and I love all the fun ways you can enjoy them (snapper, maria, michelada, green). Brunch without booze is just a sad late breakfast, and I wouldn’t choose anything other than a bloody mary!


Jason Pirock, Founder of Eat, Drink, and Bloody Mary | Chicago, Illinois

Why do you love bloody marys?

Honestly, when was the last time you had a bloody mary and weren’t having a great time?! I love the spirit of this cocktail and how it brings people together. Think about it; bloody marys are associated with experiences like brunch, tailgating and hell, even festivals. All of which are centered around making memories, sharing stories and relishing in a cocktail that’s just as unique, complex, spicy, mild, gritty or balanced as the person drinking it.


Greg Tooke, Founder of My Big Fat Bloody Mary | La Crosse, Wisconsin

Dear Bloody Mary,

You ask why I love thee....

I love you because drinking a Jack and Coke at 9am screams Drinking Problem. Your bright red dress and pretty green celery make me proud to take you out to brunch. Your character runs deep and you can adapt to my whimsical tastes. You're like medicine to me, easing the pain of the previous night's revelry and sliding me into the day. But you're not just a daytime friend. You're often my night time lover as well. I never feel out of place stirring your flavors in the evening. After all, it's 9am somewhere!


Renee Belanger, Founder of Bloody Good Bloodys | Minneapolis, Minnesota

Why do you love bloody marys?

I've always had more of the savory vs. sweet palate, so naturally my drink of choice is the most savory of them all: the Bloody Mary! People will ask me "How different can Bloody Mary's actually be?!" Well....let me tell you! I love seeing how bars/restaurants/individuals can put their own spin on what is thought to be a simple and traditional drink. I'm a big fan of Asian and Mediterranean flavored inspired Bloody Mary's. I'm also aware that a lot of traditionalists turn their nose up at crazy garnishes, but that is another reason they are so fun! Of course you want a good drink underneath, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun with what's on top!! And THAT is why I love them, because they ARE so versatile.


Sara Wagabaza, Founder of Bloody Good Life | Brooklyn, New York

Why do you love bloody marys?

I’m a Wisconsin girl at heart, and truly feel that the best bloody mary’s come from the Midwest! I previously lived in Los Angeles, and I am currently in NYC. I have realized that it’s not that easy to walk up to a bar and ask for a well made bloody mary unless it’s Saturday or Sunday. This is what sparked my conquest to find some of the best bloody marys in the nation! I’ve met some amazing people along the way while drinking them too! Cheers 🎉🍅


Natasha Octon, Founder of Natasha’s Food Adventures | San Diego, California

Why do you love bloody marys?

When I was younger, nothing grossed me out more than my grandmothers V8 juice staring back at me in the fridge. I remember thinking, "Who wants to drink tomato juice! Yuck!" Well here I am years later and one of my favorite cocktails is the tomato juice filled Bloody Mary. They say your tastes evolve as you get older and that couldn't be more true for me. In my mid twenties, I started ordering bloody marys everywhere I went! I was waiting tables at the time and after a long shift I would find myself craving them. Bartenders would often find it odd that I wanted a brunch cocktail at 11:30 pm. But I didn't care. It was my relief after a long shift! To this day, sipping on a nice cold bloody mary is a treat that I enjoy for brunch or still in the evening. Plus, who doesn't love breakfast for dinner from time to time?


Drew Thrall, Founder of Bloody Mary King | Seattle, Washington

Why do you love bloody marys?

They remind me of a few people in my life. My step dad turned me onto them early on. Once I tried some of his I was instantly hooked. My uncle makes his own mix which include peppers that he roasts himself. It’s one of the best mixes I’ve ever had. Also, who doesn’t love a good garnish? It’s awesome how creative restaurants and bars are getting with their bloodys these days.


Carlos Fraticelli, Expert Bloody Mary Judge | Brooklyn, New York

Why do you love bloody marys?

Bloody marys are a perfect mix of savory and spicy and a kick ass way to start the weekend. They’re just the right cocktail to wake you up and make sure you're ready for the rest of the day.


Click the image below to find out more about the 2020 Drunken Tomato Awards!