Lea & Perrins and My Ultimate Bloody Mary

Lea & Perrins and My Ultimate Bloody Mary

I make no secret of my love for the mighty Bloody Mary cocktails in all its incarnations. We looked at one of its major components a couple of weeks ago and today, it is the turn of Worcestershire sauce. Like Tabasco sauce, Lea and Perrins is a regular fixture in our kitchen, it gets splashed into many a dish but today I’m sharing my recipe for my ultimate Bloody Mary.

In the early 1800s, Lord Sandy’s, a nobleman, returned from Bengal in India, keen to reproduce a recipe he’d acquired. On Lord Sandys’ request, two chemists—John Lea and William Perrins, made the first attempt, which both considered distasteful. They left the jars in their cellar in disgust but years later, came across them again and, because the concoction had been given time to mature,  on tasting the contents, discovered that it had turned  into a delicious, savoury sauce. Lea and Perrins began bottling their special blend of vinegars and seasonings and its popularity caught on fast. With no advertising, in just a fee  years, it was in kitchens all over Europe. In 1839, John Duncan, a New Yorker, ordered a small quantity of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. Again, in the space of a few years, at most,  Duncan was importing large shipments to keep up with the huge demand. Lea & Perrins was the only commercially bottled condiment in the U.S. at that time and almost 170 years later, it remains a favourite.

The recipe is a closely guarded secret known only to  a privileged few, but an original 19th-century list of ingredients was found in a skip at the factory in 2009 and includes vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions and garlic as well as some other key ingredients which might  include cloves, soy sauce, lemons, pickles and peppers. To protect the sauce from other imitators, the famous Lea & Perrins® signature was put on the label of the bottle as patent. Lea & Perrins® sauce is now available in more than 75 countries worldwide. In the UK, it is used to make  cheese on toast, in Spain, it’s used in salads, in Hong Kong, Lea & Perrins is often used as a  dipping sauce, stir-fry sauce or beef marinade. Meanwhile, in Canada and the USA, it’s known as the “Burger Booster®,” in beef burger recipes.

Lea & Perrins® first started exporting their sauce around the world by boat, but the often lengthy voyages and rough seas meant that some of the bottles got broken. Consequently, each bottle was wrapped in paper wrap to protect them from  breakage. Although wrapping bottles is no longer necessary in this day and age, the custom has continued, and the wrap has come to symbolise the heritage of Lea & Perrins® sauces, a tradition dating back to 1835. Lea & Perrins still uses this  distinctive paper wrapper for the version sold in the United States.

Lea & Perrins is now a division of the H.J. Heinz Co., in the UK. Lea & Perrins was previously part of HP Foods, a company that was bought by Heinz in 2005 from previous owner Danone. It is currently produced in the Midland Road factory in Worcester that was built by Lea and Perrins.  Midland Road was named after the Midland Railway because the factory originally had rail sidings to provide raw materials and distribution. A subsidiary in New Jersey, US, manufactures an American version of the recipe. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce UK and US recipes differ in that the UK recipe uses malt vinegar and the US one uses distilled white vinegar. Lea & Perrins® Worcestershire Sauce has been awarded the Royal Warrant from Her Majesty The Queen, a mark  regarded as a sign of excellence and quality. Lastly, because it is my favourite cocktail, the Bloody Mary was born in 1921 at “Harry’s New York Bar” in Paris, when the barman mixed vodka with tomato juice and a splash of Lea & Perrins® Worcestershire Sauce.

  •  300ml vodka ( We use our homemade bloody Mary vodka)
  • A large slug of Noilly Prat
  • A large pinch of freshly grated horseradish.
  • 1l  Premium tomato juice
  • Tabasco sauce ( to taste)
  • Worcestershire sauce ( to taste)
  • The juice of one lime
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • A large pinch of celery salt
  • A large pinch of black pepper
  • Celery sticks to garnish.


In a jug, combine the tomato juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, pepper and lime juice. Cut the next lime into quarters, spritz a small bit of juice and then drop the wedges into the mixture and stir well. Place the jug in the fridge and allow to infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the jug from the fridge and pour the vodka and Noilly Prat into the mixture and stir well. Adjust seasoning according to taste and serve in ice filled glasses with a celery stick for garnish ( optional)



  1. Great article, upon my return south I will want to check which L&P we get there. Most likely it will be from the states. I like your recipe for the bloody Mary except for the Tabasco Sauce. While it is a best seller and has many followers, I am not one of them. I have a few different hot sauces that I enjoy in a Bloody Elizabeth, the one most often used is Cholula, which is made in Mexico. The fresh horseradish is the secret that some people miss.
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  2. It certainly does sound like the Ultimate Bloody Mary, the lime and celery notes along with all the others must make a rich complex flavour
    Lucy – BakingQueen74 recently posted..Speculoos Butter Twist BreadMy Profile

  3. An interesting article on L & P Worcestershire Sauce which I consider to be an important element of English culinary culture. I’m surprised ingredients were revealed when someone found a scrap of paper in a skip, I presume it was a member of the public rather than an employee of L&P, I’d love to come across something like that.
    These days I often use Henderson’s Relish in place of L & P, not that I don’t like L & P, I do, but I also like to support other local specialities and having lived in Yorkshire for a while I sill feel some loyalty towards that county. Henderson’s has quite a different taste to L & P, but I find they can be treated as interchangeable in cooking. Not being a drinker, I’ve not tried it in a Bloody Mary, it would be interesting to hear from anyone who has.

    • How interesting Sarah! We confess that we haven’t tried Henderson’s relish but both of Caro’s parents came from Yorkshire so we will have to seek it out and try it after this recommendation from you! And then Anita will try it in a Bloody Mary and let you know!

  4. I could do with a big glug of that Bloody Mary just now ! ummm
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