Brunch Time — Episode 1

There are as many Bloody Mary recipes as there are drinkers of them.  For the most part they fall into one of 3 categories, none of which I’m a big fan:

The Tomato Crowd.  At its epitome, these guys use tomato juice ice cubes to keep from diluting the sacred tomato.

The Spice Crowd.  You recognize them by the constant sweat on their brow and their insistence that your bloody would be “great if it was just a bit spicier”.

The Convenience Crowd.  They can talk for hours about the pros/cons of various pre-made mixes and why Grey Goose is the best vodka to mix with their lazy-ass bloody mary’s.

Here’s my Bloody Mary Philosophy:

  • The best mix is worse than the worst scratch recipe.  Some mixes cut the margin, but none that I’ve seen ever match the fresh, full flavor you get from taking an extra 5 minutes to make it yourself.
  • This is not a contest.  A little spice makes a Bloody Mary interesting, gives it the heft needed to shake off the cobwebs from the night before.  But spicier is not always better.  In fact, it seldom is.
  • They are not spiked tomato juice.  I am as much a purist as anyone, but with so many variations on the Bloody Mary (Caesar, Bloody Maria, Bloody Bull, etc.) it is clear even to me that this is more than tomatoes and vodka.

I’ve tried many recipes and experimented with my own variations and have settled on one that has served me well.  It is strong enough to not just be a glass of doctored tomato juice.  But not so strong as to take you past the eye-opener stage too quickly.

I’ve found that I prefer vegetable juice (V8) to plain tomato juice.  It lends roundness to the drink that I can’t replicate with any combination of other ingredients and tomato juice.  And it allows you two versions of the drink without making big changes to the recipe – a very slightly spicy regular version and a ‘manly’ version made with Spicy V8.  I personally don’t believe that Bloody Mary drinking should be a test of masculinity, but at every brunch there are those that do.

Bloody Mary

2 oz vodka
4 oz Spicy V8
½ oz Lemon Juice
2 liberal dashes Worcestershire
2 dashes Tabasco
¼ tsp Celery Salt
¼ tsp Black Pepper (fresh ground)
¼ tsp Chipotle with Adobo Sauce (chopped)

Combine ingredients in shaker with ice.  Gently roll the shaker to combine (shaking vigorously will create a foamy Bloody Mary).  Strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

I also found that the use of celery salt is a handy invention.  I’m sure I’m not the only person that has poked their eye on the celery stalk that normally garnishes a Bloody Mary (I’m hungover, remember).  And using the Celery Salt adds the taste while simplifying the garnish process…just a simple lime wedge is needed for this recipe.

Lastly, many hard-core Bloody Mary aficionados swear by the addition of horseradish.  And I certainly appreciate that addition.  Adding more than the prescribed amount of Tabasco makes the drink taste…Tabasco-y.  Horseradish gives the drink an additional kick and also a new flavor to mix with the tomato and booze.

But I found a great variation on this theme at a restaurant in Austin, TX – Matt’s El Rancho.  They make their Border Bloody Mary with a chopped chipotle pepper with
adobo sauce.  These are widely available and inexpensive in the international foods section of any mega-mart.  And they have become a regular part of my favorite Bloody Mary recipe.

Bulk Bloody Mary

750ml  Vodka (one fifth bottle)
6 1/3 cups V8 or Spicy V8 (this is about 50 oz, so a 64 oz bottle)
¾ cup Lemon Juice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1T Tabasco
1 T Celery Salt
1 T Black Pepper (fresh ground)
1 T Chipotle with Adobo Sauce (chopped)

Combine ingredients in a 1 gallon pitcher with ice and stir.  Strain into Collins glasses filled with fresh ice and garnish with lime wedges.  Makes approximately 13 servings.

Feel free to experiment with this and find your own Bloody Mary ‘sweet spot’.  Substituting tequila for the vodka makes a Bloody Maria, which I’ve found goes very well with the Chipotle pepper version above.  And substituting some or all of the tomato/vegetable juice for beef broth would give you a bloody bull.  There are endless variations, and I highly recommend you experiment until you both become a fan of the drink and have your own recipe to argue with at the next party.  And part of the experimentation process is to order this one in bars.  You won’t always get a great Bloody Mary, but most bartenders like to show off their BM chops.

As a common brunch and afternoon party drink, it would be handy to have a recipe that makes a pitcher of the stuff.  And since I’m such a nice guy, I’ve done the conversion work for you.


About Paul

Having been passionate about cocktail craft for many years, I've recently been coerced into sharing my insights and experiences. This blog is my first attempt at that goal.
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2 Responses to Brunch Time — Episode 1

  1. Brian K says:

    That was probably the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever made at home! Perfect spice – a great compliment for the 3 hours I’ll be making Lasagna before I start drinking wine before my mother gets here later for dinner! Cheers!

  2. says:

    We really loved this recipe ! we opted out of the horseradish and I thought it was very tasty and easy to drink, two thumbs up , and possibly a favorite !

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