Bloody Beer, AKA Red Eye, Red Rooster, or Red Beer

You might have seen it on menus as a red beer, red-eye, tomato beer, or red rooster.

You might have seen Beau Bridges pour himself a tall one in Jerry Maguire (boy, my pop culture references keep getting worse and worse).

You might have shuddered at the thought of tomato juice getting anywhere near a brewed beverage, but I say, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

bloody beer
Photo: Casey Barber

I’ve always called it a bloody beer, a play on the classic Bloody Mary cocktail.

And though I’m not a brunchophobe, and though I do love spice (and celery!), I vastly prefer this version to the Bloody Mary.

The bloody beer is not a newfangled mixologist’s invention. It’s one of those old-timers’ drinks, and its makeup varies slightly as you travel around the North American continent.

bloody beer
Photo: Casey Barber

It’s big in the Midwest—cocktail and beer-brewing message boards related to the drink are filled with folks chiming in from Kansas and Nebraska.

It’s also popular in Texas, where they seem to prefer making it with Bloody Mary mix.

Bloody beer
Photo: Casey Barber

If you listen to our neighbors from the north and have a Calgary or Sasketchawan Red-Eye, you’ll find it’s concocted with Clamato and sometimes a raw egg. Um, pass on the egg, please.

And of course, the most well-known variation is the Mexican michelada, where beer is combined with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, lime, and tomato juice in a salt-rimmed glass.

 bloody beer
Photo: Casey Barber

Me, I keep it simple. Beer and tomato juice. Crisp, fizzy, savory—would it be a stretch to call it healthy?

As with any brunch-y drink, it’s touted as a hangover cure, but I drink bloody beers anytime it’s hot.

Bloody beer
Photo: Casey Barber

The key to this easygoing drink is to use cheap beer. No pricey vodkas, no artisanal syrups, please; stick with your favorite crap brew.

Light-in-flavor lagers and pilsners are perfect, but stay away from the heavy-hitting IPAs since the hops don’t taste so hot with the tomato juice.

For Pittsburghers, IC Light is always a good choice, but Sol, Tecate, Miller, Stella, or—god, I really am showing my roots—Michelob would be just dandy.

bloody beer
bloody beer

Bloody Beer

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes

Bloody beer, red eye, red beer, red rooster: whatever you call it, this beer-and-tomato-juice combo is way more than a brunch accompaniment.


  • 1 12-ounce bottle of lager or pilsner beer
  • 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) tomato juice


  1. Pour the beer into a pint glass, then add the tomato juice. The drink will mix itself!
  2. Drink frequently in hot weather.

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  1. Man, I could use one now, it’s already been that kind of day. Great photo! A bit more classy then my “journalist” style photo.

  2. This may show up on the menu for this month’s Lady Sunday. (Brunch drinks and shrinky dinks is the theme.)

  3. I just tried it with budlight .. i gotta say it’s really good.. thanks for the recipe =)

  4. I found this searching to see who else found this out. – My way is a short glass of V-8, along side my beer, taking a swig the same way you’d have a pretzel or a chip. It’s feels healthy and right. I don’t want to stop drinking, eat and come down. So this keeps me from feeling shitty, and I usually don’t get a hangover this way. Plus a complete serving of vegetables in every serving! – Pretzels and Onion dip goes well with this beverage combo.

    1. Jack, I love the side of V-8 idea. Lately I’ve been adding a little bloody mary salt to my bloody beers – the jar of salt was a gift from a friend, but it’s really easy to make your own!

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