The Perfect Bloody Mary

The Perfect Bloody Mary
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There are many occasions when a Bloody Mary is the perfect beverage: Sunday brunch, family gatherings, a long cross-country flight, and during lunch while skiing on a cold winter day.  I have always loved a good Bloody Mary, I think mainly because they are salty–and I do love salt.  In Wisconsin, where I went to college, when you order a Bloody Mary they serve a light beer on the side as a chaser, which I later learned is common in some places. In college, I loved that.  What student wouldn’t?  A tasty, two-for-one drink special that appealed to most students living on a tight budget.

Fernand Petiot claimed to have invented the Bloody Mary in 1921. Petiot was working at the New York Bar in Paris (which later became Harry’s New York Bar, a famous hangout for Ernest Hemingway. New York City’s well-known 21 Club has claimed the cocktail was invented there in the early 1930s by a bartender named Henry Zbikiewicz.  In 1942, Life Magazine listed a Bloody Mary style beverage s a “new cocktail” but called it “Red Hammer“.

The basics of the drink aren’t complicated: the two main ingredients, vodka and tomato juice, are standard.  However, the drink almost never consists of just these two ingredients. Bartenders pride themselves on their secret ingredients.  There is a vast amount of variation on both the making and presentation of this well-known favorite.  Some Bloody Mary’s even have different base spirits like bourbon, rye, tequila or gin. But liquor aside, a lot of mixologist creativity goes into the garnish.  This has become a bit of a culinary obsession in recent years.  Celery, a traditional garnish, is now the exception rather than the rule.  Favored instead are eye-catching, ginormous, over-the-top garnishes such as beef sliders, giant shrimp, bacon slabs, pickles, a whole sausage, and onion rings.  You name it, bartenders are out there making this drink a meal in and of itself.

Regardless of the size of the garnish, a Bloody Mary is a filling cocktail.  For that reason, it is not one that I drink too often.  But when the mood strikes, there is nothing else like them.  I particularly enjoy whipping up a low alcohol version for family gatherings around the holidays.  This is a drink to be creative with both heat-wise and garnish-wise: anything can work, just make it interesting, fun and maybe even dramatic.  With my husband’s love of pickled products, I often have various things around the house to work with, so I put them to good use.  But what I listed in this recipe is optional: even plain old celery works just fine on its own.  My four semi-secret ingredients in the drink itself are low-sodium V8, pickle juice, spicy white horseradish and Louisiana hot sauce.  After making this drink or many years, I truly believe it’s perfect.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

February 23, 2018
: 1
: 5 min
: 5 min
: easy

By:

Ingredients
  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 8 ounces low-sodium V8
  • 1 ounce dill pickle juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground white horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • dash of ground black pepper
  • dash of salt
  • dash of celery salt
  • 1 dill pickle, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 green olive, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 pickled okra, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 pickled onion, for garnish (optional)
  • beef jerky, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 lemon slice, for garnish (optional)
Directions
  • Step 1 Using a cocktail shaker, add the vodka, V8, pickle juice, horseradish, lemon juice, hot sauce, black pepper, salt and celery salt and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
  • Step 2 Pour mixture into a tall pilsner glass filled with a good amount of ice. Garnish with a pickle, olive, okra, onion, and jerky. Serve with a lemon slice.

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