A bloody mary is a classic brunch drink that has become even more popular in the past couple of years. It’s a savory, tomato juice-based cocktail that contains vodka and quite a bit of spice. The recipe varies from place to place – as does the heat level of the drink – but it’s usually a delicious and satisfying way to start a Sunday. You can buy a mix to make bloody marys, but there is a big difference in flavor when you make it from scratch, so I recommend picking up some tomato juice and learning to make your own at home.
With a base of tomato juice, I start to add in my other ingredients. There isn’t a hard and fast list of bloody mary components, but there are some ingredients that I always use in mine. I add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, celery salt, pepper, paprika and vodka. Sometimes I add a splash of pickle juice (when I want it saltier), other hot sauces (when I want it smokier or spicier) or lime juice (to brighten it up or when I’m out of lemons). There is a lot of flexibility in the recipe, but believe me when I say that it is a good idea to start with a solid recipe so that you can replicate the drink and learn what you like in yours. Bloody marys are all about personal preference in the end.
The garnish for a bloody mary used to be a stalk of celery and lemon wedge. The crisp, cool crunch of the celery was a nice contrast to the spice of the drink. Recently, however, the garnishes for bloody marys have become much more complex, turning the drink into a meal in a glass, rather than something to be served with breakfast. I’ve seen bloody marys garnished with bacon, cheese and even beef sliders, along with a veritable salad of vegetables. I prefer to make little skewers of pickles, veggies, meats and cheeses for mine because they are easier to eat and can be prepared in advance, but feel free to get crazy with yours if you’re entertaining!
Bloody marys are usually served in taller glasses than the one I have pictured here. As impressive as a large glass looks, I find it can be hard to finish one if I’m actually drinking it alongside a meal, so I often turn one large serving into two smaller servings. Feel free to serve this up in a pint glass if you want a heartier drink!
2 oz vodka
5 oz tomato juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Worcestershire sauce
2-3 tsp tabasco sauce (to taste)
generous pinch celery salt
generous pinch paprika
small pinch pepper
Garnish: tomatoes, salami, mozzarella cheese, proscuitto, pickles, olives, cocktail onions, lemon/lime wedges
Combine all ingredients in a large glass and fill with ice. Season to taste. Take a second glass of equal size, or a cocktail shaker, and roll the mixture back and forth between the two glasses by transferring the ice back and forth 3-4 times to mix everything. This will yield a thick, smooth drink that isn’t too watered down. If you are hesitant to try rolling the mixture, simply stir it a few times with a spoon before garnishing.
Fill two rocks glasses (or one pint glass) with ice and strain the tomato juice mixture over the ice. Garnish as desired.
Makes 2 (or 1 large drink)