God bless the Bloody Mary. That cardinal-colored elixir. That rust-red galaxy of floating horseradish stars that rise upon your inhale’s whim.
“It’s an acquired taste,” someone once told you. Out loud you had said, “This is disgusting.” Your face was scrunched into a Picasso of horrified disbelief following a sip of cold, thick tomato soup sharp with vodka. Your heart quickened. One bad Bloody Mary and you’re five-years-worth of ruined. But this is important. It’s the way things are meant to be. This sacred drink waits until your palette’s equipped and you are emotionally ready.
The enjoyment of a Bloody Mary is earned, not freely given.
It sits — metaphorically, of course, because a good Bloody Mary is so fresh it tastes as if squeezed just prior to consuming — chilled and on top of a pedestal. It’s patient as you explore inferior breakfast alternatives (mimosas, bellinis, milk); test the waters (tap and sparkling); and try egg sandwiches with everything from beer to Diet Coke.
To be granted access, you must slay dragons: long-necked work weeks, fire-breathing dissertations, sharp-fanged superiors and precarious relationships. You must fight through treacherous hangovers alone and nearly die of boredom at extended family functions. A sphinx will confound you with unanswerable questions about the future; a troll (or a coffee table) will kick you in the shins.
At some point, you will swim across a moat.
Then one Saturday morning you will awake up with the sun shining. Your stomach, determined and prepared, will act as a compass that points you toward brunch — a word that you are using to connote flexible weekend dining hours and nothing else. There will be no line at your favorite neighborhood place (by now you have learned that trendy does not mean quality). A host will great you from the lectern. She will smile and say, “Please be seated.”
You will descend among friends into wooden pews, bags and jackets scattered to stake claim in sanctuary. As others deliberate between savory or sweet, you’ll close your eyes in concentration. You won’t need a menu. Your body will tell you.
A server will appear beside your shoulder like a spirit assigned to assist you on the final steps of this journey. “One Bloody Mary,” you’ll say. With your mind. (You have telekinetic powers now.) And before you can order a side of fries, a goblet will appear.
You will take one sip of the anecdote to stress — pungent, nourishing, holy. You will pause to determine if it needs hot sauce.
It might. The choice is yours. You have been initiated. Welcome.
Makes 1 pitcher of Bloody Mary (approx. 4 x 15oz Bloody Mary)
3 oz lemon juice
3 oz lime juice
2 oz pickled fresno liquid
2 oz olive brine
3 oz hoisin sauce
1.5 oz Worcestershire sauce
2 oz paprika + 2 oz cumin mixed with 1.5 oz of water (to create a paste)
4 oz grated fresh horseradish
16 oz seasoned tomato juice (Sacramento is our preferred brand)
2 oz of red miso paste <- SECRET INGREDIENT ALERT!
8 oz of vodka (we like Reyka)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Your favorite pitcher
For the Rim and Garnish:
Paprika, ground pepitas and sunflower seeds, salt and pepper (get your spice grinder out to get a super fine rim!)
Cucumber ribbon, lemon wedge, lime wedge, olive + salt pepper to finish.
With a 15oz highball glass, liberally rub the rim of the glass with a lime wedge. Shake off anything dripping. Dunk rim into a container of the spice rim mix. Add ice, careful not to ruin the rim.
Add 2oz vodka. Pour batched Bloody Mary mix, leaving about 1/2 of inch from the rim of the glass.
Add garnishes: skewer the ribbon of cucumber and add the olives on the same skewer, make cuts in the fleshy side of the lime and lemon wedge and place them on the rim.
Add straw and serve. Or DRINK!
Tips & Tricks:
– Use fresh horseradish, not jarred, and a grating board.
– Work with a sweet, smoky paprika, which sits well in the mix and doesn’t dominate too much.
– Always batch fresh, never let the batch sit out for too long.
– Use the same mix and add tequila to make a Bloody Maria or add Gin to make a Red Snapper, if you want to spice it up.
– Think of the basic recipe as a white canvas – you can feel at liberty to add whatever you want to your Bloody Mary: herbs, spices, bacon, fruit, vegetables, influences from different cuisines (Asian, Italian, Indian), literally whatever is in your fridge. Just taste along the way.
– Always use a good quality seasoned tomato juice.
– Add a red miso paste for earthy flavors and a hoisin sauce for sweetness and richness.
– Purchase an electric spice grinder for everyday use (CuisinArt does a good one for home).
– Blitz fresh real ingredients to make your rims. This also gives you the ability to play with all the flavors you can find in the pantry.
If you prefer wine, check out this guide from Bon Appétit’s Marissa Ross. Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.