Complexly flavored and with endless variations, the Bloody Mary is the ultimate brunch drink.
It’s also excellent because it can be a beautiful cornucopia of nearly whatever you want, as long as you have these essentials:
1. Tomato juice
You can make your own tomato juice, and if you have perfectly fresh and fragrant tomatoes you will win brunch. Get 3 pounds of chopped ripe tomatoes, 3 stalks of chopped celery, 1 cup of flat parsley coarsely chopped and 2 tsp. sea salt, combine in a food processor, chill in a bowl for an hour and then strain through a medium-fine sieve.
You can also use store-bought juice in the interests of expediency or laziness or not owning a blender, and you will still win brunch. In either case, the key is using the highest-quality materials reasonable or available — even though you’ll be adding a lot of other ingredients, this is your base. (Though if that ends up being the only non-V8 option your grocery store has, I feel you.) On sodium content, follow your heart.
2. Something savory
Worcestershire sauce preferably. You can also add soy sauce, but it’s an addition, not a substitution.
3. Burny hotness
Take however much freshly ground or crushed black pepper you think you want and add a little more.
Then add your hot sauce(s) of choice.
4. High-nose hotness
Horseradish is perfect, but make sure you get the grated kind, not the creamy kind, which has added mayo and is gross. Dijon is a passable substitute in a pinch, or if you really like dijon. (If that’s you, consider adding both dijon and horseradish.) Wasabi is also really good here.
5. An acid
Freshly squeezed lemon or lime, and lots of it. The “freshly squeezed” part is key.
If you want to get unnecessarily fancy, garlic-infused or pepper vodka will do, but why get unnecessarily fancy? Don’t use swill, but save your best. Aim for a 1:2 ratio of vodka to mix.
The only part of the presentation that is absolutely necessary.
8. Extras and garnishes
Though normally I advocate simplicity, the Bloody Mary is no place for restraint.
To the mix, you can add any or all of: finely minced garlic, clam juice, whole actual clams, pickle juice, olive oil, olive brine, beef bouillon, celery salt or other seasonings. Use any or all to taste.
As a garnish in the glass, you can use olives, pickles, blanched asparagus, a slice of lemon, a slice of lime, carrots with the tops on, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, cocktail onions or basically whatever else you can come up with. Celery is traditional, but also gross.
This One Way To Make A Bloody Mary
- tomato juice
- splash of Worcestershire sauce
- splash of soy sauce
- black pepper to taste
- splash or eight of sriracha, to taste
- 2 tbsp. horseradish
- 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
1. In a pitcher, jar or glass, combine the tomato juice, Worcestershire, soy sauce, black pepper, sriracha, horseradish, garlic and lemon. Stir or shake, and try it. Does it need more hotness? Add pepper. Does it seem a little dull? Add more lemon. If it still seems dull, add more Worcestershire. Is it too intense, hot, spicy, salty? Add more tomato juice and remember it’s going to be diluted by the vodka and ice.
2. When the flavor is to your liking, cover it and stick it in the fridge for an hour. (This isn’t 100% necessary but will make it so much better.)
3. Add between two and half a glass of ice cubes to a glass. Add two parts of the mix to one part vodka, stir lightly, plop in some olives and serve.