Paris, France (1930s)
Making just one Bloody Mary is a pain in the ass. Even at its simplest (vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worchestershire, horseradish, salt & pepper), it’s pretty complicated. Making a batch of homemade Bloody Mary mix, on the other hand, is fun and easy. Sometimes things work out for a reason: This is a morning drink like no other, and who wants to hassle with a making a drink when you’re foggy in the head and grumpy? Have a batch of this mix on hand in the fridge and you’re good to go.
Most cocktail archaeologists agree this drink started as a simple highball of vodka and tomato juice at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris during Prohibition, where bartender Fernand “Pete” Petiot served these to American expatriates and tourists. On his post-Prohibition stint at New York City’s St. Regis Hotel King Cole Bar, Petiot spiced up the flavor by swapping gin for vodka and adding lemon juice, horseradish, hot sauce, celery salt, and black pepper as a “Red Snapper.” It wasn’t long before people fell in love with this bizarre combination – savory and nourishing with just enough buzz to change your mind about being awake. And of course, as the tide turned mid-century, vodka elbowed out the gin and took back its original spot.
The recipe that follows below is based on Jeffrey Morgenthaler‘s contemporary mix, about as full of flavor as you can get. It’s a fancified and brunch-worthy take on the original. It’ll make about a quart of Bloody Mary mix, enough for eight servings. Batch more if you think you’ll need it – it’ll keep refrigerated for a couple weeks.
The fun thing about the Bloody Mary is its flexibility: Start with this version as a template and feel free to personalize it as you like. Dial the spiciness up or down, add different fresh juices, go crazy with the garnishes. I’ve seen everything topping this drink from a stack of olives to bacon to beef jerky. Even saw one once garnished with a small hamburger, it was ridiculous. Make it with gin instead of vodka for the original Red Snapper, with tequila for a Bloody Maria, with Irish whiskey for a Bloody Molly. Some bars have complete menus of Bloody Mary variations. In Canada, they make this with Clamato (a blend of tomato and clam juices) for a Bloody Caesar.
There’s really only one rule about the Bloody Mary: don’t drink them after sunset. It’s meant to pair with the morning paper and a good long stare out the window while you come back to life.
Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Electric blender, Sieve, Straw (optional)
Ice: Ice Cubes
Glassware: Collins glass
Spirit: Vodka (recommended: Karlsson’s Gold, Absolut)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Canned tomatoes, whole or diced (recommended: Muir Glen fire-roasted), Lemon juice, Garlic, Avocado, Worchestershire sauce, Steak sauce (recommended: A-1 or HP), Hot sauce (recommended: Crystal or Tabasco), Fresh-grated or “prepared” horseradish (not horseradish sauce), Celery salt, Black pepper, Chili powder (recommended: dried and pulverized New Mexico or Ancho chilis – not powdered chili mix), Lemon wedge, Celery stalk
BLOODY MARY MIX
In an electric blender, combine:
2 14.5-ounce cans tomatoes
1 small garlic clove
1 quarter avocado
Blend well to liquify, then pour into a quart jar and add:
1 oz Worcestershire sauce
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 tsp steak sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp horseradish
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup water
In a shaker filled with ice cubes, add:
2 oz vodka
4 oz Bloody Mary mix
Roll gently (just glide from one side of the shaker to the other – shaking will foam the tomato juice) to blend and chill. Strain into an ice cube-filled Collins glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge and celery stalk. Optionally, serve with a straw.