Out Of Worcestershire? Make A Bloody Mary With Fish Sauce Instead

There's no drink quite like the Bloody Mary, with its unique combination of tomato juice, vodka, savory seasonings, and sometimes outlandish garnishes. But what do you do if you're whipping up a batch for a boozy brunch and find you're out of one key ingredient — Worcestershire sauce? Smart bartenders look to the east and swap in a popular Asian condiment. It's fish sauce, the pungent, umami-heavy ingredient popular in a variety of Thai, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian cuisine. 

Fish sauce is more versatile than you may expect. While it's not a perfect match for Worcestershire, it's close enough to create a satisfying drink in a pinch. The similarity is a result of the anchovies, which play a critical role in flavoring both sauces, as well as the extended fermentation process both undergo. While various brands of fish sauce have different ingredients and processes, they can all typically be substituted for Worcestershire on a 1:1 basis in your Bloody Mary recipe.

Small differences to know

It's important to remember that Worcestershire and fish sauce aren't exactly the same. Worcestershire sauce has a much more complex flavor thanks to its diverse mix of ingredients like vinegar, molasses, tamarind, onion, garlic, and more, in addition to anchovies. On the other hand, fish sauce relies almost exclusively on fermented anchovies to provide its flavor, with few additional ingredients included. It can also be more noticeably "fishy" than Worcestershire sauce and also tends to be higher in sodium.

This is one of the easier swaps for bartenders who find they're missing a classic Bloody Mary ingredient, but it's certainly not the only one. If you run out of vodka, replacing it with tequila or mezcal creates a Bloody Maria, while swapping in beer makes this savory sip a Michelada.

However, if this easy substitution is still more than you'd prefer to deal with, there's no shame in grabbing a grocery story Bloody Mary mix.