While I've been an enthusiastic supporter of vodka for years, it's only within the last six months that I've become a true fan of the Bloody Mary.
We all know how I feel about celery (aka the devil's vegetable), and tomato juice is one of those weird things I don't fully understand (it falls somewhere into the same perplexing category as drinkable yogurt). Nevertheless, I'd actually tried my fair share of Bloody Marys over the years, as they're one of those brunch menu staples (brunch = the best/my favorite meal of the day). Unfortunately, my experiences with brunch Bloody Marys were definitely less than stellar. They were all either too chunky/soupy (um, please pass me a grilled cheese to sop up my drink), too watery/warm (warm runny tomato guts = grossness), far too spicy (nooo, it's not a problem to have my taste buds rendered useless for the next week all thanks to the bucket of Worcestershire sauce you dumped in my glass), or they were served with a giant clump of floating hair (okay, that only happened once, but it was really, really gross!).
I'm sure there are tons of restaurants out there that serve fabulous Bloody Marys. I've just never had the good fortune to be at one when I've had the urge to give the drink another try. Luckily, I did have the good fortune last summer to attend a cocktails & appetizers class at The Chopping Block, where we learned how to make our own perfect Bloody Marys. That class changed my life. Yes, that sounds a bit dramatic, but the class opened me up to a whole new way of viewing a previously disliked drink/food (technically, it's a drink, but there's chewing involved, so is it also a food? A meal? Sigh.).
There really is an art to the Bloody Mary - an excellent version contains the perfect blend of zesty spices, the right amount of heat, premium tomato juice, and complementary garnishes. The tangy, salty, and sweet flavors combine and lead to a full-on assault on to the senses. The recipe I picked up from that class produces the most amazingly spicy, strong, and super addictive drink ever. I would gladly serve or drink these at any brunch - just make mine sans celery, thanks.
Yield: 4 small drinks
3 ounces pepper flavored vodka (plain vodka can also be used)
1 cup tomato juice or vegetable juice (such as V8)
4 to 5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco or hot sauce to taste
Fresh lemon juice to taste
Celery salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Lemon or lime wedge
Your favorite spice blend (this is my favorite)
Stuffed green olives (my favorite garnish!)
Skewers of cherry tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese (my second favorite!)
Peppadew peppers or pepperoncini
Lemon or lime wedge
1. Moisten the rims of four glasses by running the lemon or lime wedge around them. Lightly dip the rims into the spice blend.
2. Mix together the vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, lemon juice, celery salt, and pepper in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for several seconds to chill the drink. Pour into prepared glasses.
3. Serve with the garnishes of your choice.