There have been many articles and blog posts about the bloody mary. Yet I am still hard pressed to find a recipe that I like better than my own*. The history of the bloody mary is a contended one. The St. Regis in New York claims that the Bloody Mary was invented at their bar by bartender Fernand Petiot in 1934. He apparently spiced up an already existing and popular tomato juice and vodka cocktail using celery salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon and Worcestershire sauce. Harry's Bar in Paris and the 21 Club in New York claim to have invented said tomato juice and vodka cocktail and therefore the original Bloody Mary. Well recently I had a meeting at the St. Regis and was compelled to try the infamous "original" Bloody Mary, which btw, they call the Red Snapper because back in the day the name Bloody Mary was, as we tell our children, "inappropriate" for their upscale clientele. So...how was it? .... It....Was... the most disappointing experience EVER! It was lame. And on top of it they slapped me with a bill for .... wait for it.... $25! Can you say "tourist trap"!! And these a$$hole$ are bottling the crap! Did you ever wonder why no good bloody mary mix exists... and people if you think there is a good one...you are fooling yourself. There a some tolerable ones. Franky i don't hate the Tabasco brand mix. But there is yet to be a "great" one. The main reason I think is that you really need to use certain branded products such a Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce and would therefore have to license these to use them. So you have to come up with your own worcestershire and hot sauce if you are gunna bottle a mix. These two branded ingredients are key and cannot be substituted, especially Lea & Perrins Worcestershire. Have you ever tried Heinz Worcesterhire? Its horrible. Lea & Perrins has a bloody Mary recipe on their site but its crap. Its unbelievable because they leave out half the ingredients. If Lea & Perrins and McIlhenny, Co. got together they could potentially create the first great mix. Until then the hunt continues... if you're the lazy type. The only thing I have found recently that can actually replace Tabasco is the amazing Siracha sauce. Its pretty damn good in a bloody. So there is my first contradiction and I am sure there will be more.
Ok so, how does one make the perfect bloody mary. Well there are two modes you really need to master and that is singles vs pitchers. The problem with making an amazing bloody mary with drinkability, is that they go fast and if you don't know how to make batches of them you will not enjoy your brunch party because you'll be bartending the whole time. So let's start with a single. In a glass...oh and by the way, I'm a glass freak and the right glass is very important. I digress but lets address this... here are some styles of glass best suited for bloody marys and some bad ones...
General rule, beer glasses are great as long as they are not tulip shaped at the top. Short is better than tall. Wide mouth better than narrow. The best all around is a Chimay Glass or a simple double old fashion. (btw... can you guess which of these glasses the Red Snapper came in? ... yeah, I was appalled)
Back to the recipe... In a glass add ice 3/4 full, a shot or 2 of vodka (Smirnoff and Titos are good - don't waste really expensive vodka in a mixed drink) a teaspoon or tablespoon of horseradish (fresh is amazing if you have it), 10 shakes or so of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce (the foundation spice), 7 or so shakes of Tabasco sauce (this is the bite), 3 shakes of Celery salt, fresh ground pepper, tablespoon of lemon juice (or lime), a couple drops of Pickapepper sauce, then pour mostly Clamato juice, and then top with a bit of V8 to thicken just a bit. Never serve a thick bloody mary that tastes like a meal. It needs drinkability and Clamato helps with that a lot. Clamato has a great zesty taste that really makes this drink. Using Clamato is often referred to as a Bloody Caesar, which typically is just vodka, worcestershire, celery salt and tabasco, a lemon garnish and Clamato (or Tomato Juice and Clam broth) . Someday I would like to learn how to make this with organic Tomato juice and fresh clam broth but that does not scale in normal home kitchen environments. You can use just Tomato Juice or V8 but in my experience its just not as good. Pour the ingredients back and fourth a couple times between another glass. Then squeeze a lime wedge on top. Let the lime juice sit on top. The drinker should smell a blast of lime as they raise the glass to their mouth. Other great things to use to garnish the Bloody Mary are: various olives, celery stick, pickled okra, pickles, stick of bacon, etc... If you like rim jobs, go for it and do a salted rim, celery salted rim or old bay rim. One of best bloodies I have every had was at Public in New York City. They use Tomato Juice, lemon juice, worcestershire, tabasco and cilantro... I love cilantro in my bloodies, but just chop it pretty fine. Your sure to have green stuff in your teeth but its great when done right.
The beauty of the bloody is in its simplicity. Keep it simple, experimentation is fine as long as it does not sacrifice what is at the core: worcestershire, horseradish, tabasco, lemon, lime, ground pepper, celery salt, tomato juice (or regular V8). I don't think the other flavors of tabasco work at all and definitely do not use buffalo hot sauce.
So there you have it. These are more my guidelines for making a bloody mary that you and your guests will really like. I don't mind sharing this because the more great bloody marys there are in the world, the better the world will be and the less hung over and grumpy we'll all be and the better we will all treat each other the next day. Drink responsibly! Thanks.
The Pitcher mode: In a pitcher add
- 4 tablespoons of horseradish
- 30 shakes or so of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
- 20 or so shakes of Tabasco sauce
- 9 shakes of Celery salt (using the shake spout, not pour)
- fresh ground pepper
- squeeze half a lemon juice (or lime)
- 4 to 5 drops of Pickapepper sauce
- then pour one 32oz bottle of Clamato juice
- one small 8 oz can of V8
- Stir (and you can pour it back into the Clamato bottle which makes for a great way to transport your mix and store it)
- add ice and vodka to a bunch of glasses, pour in mix, stir then garnish by squeezing and dropping lime wedges on top, let lime juice float on top
*Mark Halloran introduced to me the use of Clamato and pickapepper. I must credit his influence.