Best Bloody Mary Ever
Just as the smart traveler does not fly to Santorini for only one day, the smart drinker realizes that one cannot have just one Bloody Mary — if only for the fact that it takes at least one of these finely crafted, blue collar beauties to merely season the glass (an important point I will come back to) — but rather must make proper arrangements in advance in order to insure the best Bloody Mary drinking experience possible. In order to write this, I am, at this very moment, under the influence of more than a few fingers of spicy vodka goodness. Which begs the question: what makes a good B.M.? Bloody Mary mix? Is it merely the tender pressings of tart tomatoes or rather the clear winter’s chill of crisp Russian spirits? After making more than 1000 of these vitamin C packed concoctions, rest assured it is more than just the aforementioned juice of the tomato fruit and medium-grade Russian intoxicant, that makes the Blood Mary the drink of choice for the mornings of forever after. So let’s get started:
It was sometime last century, likely in between world wars, in the few years of celebration when Europe was recovering from the war to end all wars and preparing for the deadliest conflict in human history, that the drink which was created to deal with hangovers was probably mixed up for the first time in Paris. Though some argue that it was first thought up and imbibed in New York around the 30s, in order, most likely, to deal with the major pain in the ass the that was the great depression. Wherever tomato juice was first mixed with vodka (or gin as was a common alternative) is not so important as the evolution of the drink, which has morphed from two simple ingredients to a complex and lively mixture that is both refreshing and uplifting, especially on Sunday mornings during brunch out with friends, or for the more skilled party-goer, for late Saturday night in preparation for the inevitable dehydration and loss of vitamins minerals caused by drinking alcohol. Whichever you may be, in order to properly enjoy the Bloody Mary to its full potential requires a bit more than elementary skill, but with a bit of practice and not much cash, anyone can make a damn good one for someone you love to love in the morning.
Seasoning the Glass:
It’s almost shocking how much the drink is geared toward getting you going in the morning. Beyond the obvious tomato juice, the usual accoutrements could range from olives and celery, a pirate’s sword skewer of olives, pickles, or those mini Gibson onions. These days the add-ons are over-the-top excessive — bacon, beef sliders, spare ribs. If I wanted food, I would order your farmer’s plate, but what I want is a drink to cure all the wrong things I did last night. Key in the drink is citrus, the lemon and the lime. Which, after putting the ice to the brim, but before adding a couple jiggers of vodka, it becomes necessary to season the glass. This means adding pepper, celery salt, (soy sauce, horseradish, wasabi, kimchi, various chiles, et al are viable alternatives), anchovies, a nice squeeze of citrus and then the wedge, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. The order is important, in that you want a nicely spread uniformity of seasoning. This should make the bottom of the glass appear as if it’s been left out in the rain and tipped over in a mudslide, but not to worry, we have vodka to the rescue. I infused my vodka with a lot of habanero peppers and some fresh mango to sweeten the wrath of the little orange chile. It didn’t do much to tame the heat, but it sure does taste great.
The point of this is to get the ice melting a bit and mix the seemingly disparate elements before adding the tomato juice. Another bonus being that the glass is basically ready to go for round two, with only a modicum of seasoning needed during the next mix up. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Proper seasoning makes for a damn near perfect Bloody Mary experience, no matter what blueprint you swear by. If you were wondering, mine is below.
Bloody Mary recipe courtesy of the HESO Magazine School of Bartending:
- 2 oz. (60 ml) habanero/mango infused vodka in a Highball glass filled with (preferably crushed) ice.
- 1 dash ground black pepper
- 2-4 dashes celery salt
- 2-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- Mashed up Anchovy
- 1/4 juice of lemon or lime
- Fill glass with tomato juice
While most home bartenders will be mixing in-glass, if one should have a proper bartender’s cocktail shaker then the mixture may be shaken vigorously, as desired. But above all, these should be consumed in twos and threes over brunch with an unbending spirit of togetherness as you crash blood red glasses toward a brighter day.