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.
Bay Area, California (1960s)
For dessert sometime, consider this impossible-to-hate variation on The Dude’s “Caucasian” – with freshly-whipped cream on top and a dusting of grated coffee bean as reimagined by Sam Ross. Yes, it’s sweet, and yes it has vodka in it. And it’s awesome. Born from the “Black Russian” cocktail out of Belgium (!!) in the late ’40s, the White Russian upped the decadence in the ’60s by adding cream. The ’60s? Decadent? Say it ain’t so!
The standard way you’ve probably seen this drink is all three ingredients slopped together over ice in a rocks glass. But here’s an idea: It’s dessert. It’s supposed to be a special treat. Kick back and feel as guilty as you want. Or not.
If you can track down the amazing House Spirits coffee liqueur or St. George Firelit, do so – it makes a difference. But Kahlúa works just fine if you come up short. And don’t substitute sweetened whipped cream – it’s sweet enough already. If you don’t have an electric mixer, a few minutes whipping the heavy cream by hand with a whisk will help offset some of these calories!
Just don’t blame me if drinking this makes you want to twist up a fatty and crank up the Floyd.
Hardware:Mixing glass, Jigger, Barspoon, Standing mixer (or whisk), Microplane
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirit:Vodka (recommended: Absolut, Karlsson’s Gold)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Coffee liqueur (recommended: House Spirits, St. George Firelit, Kahlúa)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes:Heavy cream, Coffee bean
Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes. In a standing mixer (or by hand), whip 1/4 cup of heavy cream to thicken. Stop before you get to soft peaks – the cream should be thick but still pourable.
In a mixing glass about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
1 1/2 oz vodka
1 1/2 oz coffee liqueur
Stir well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. Leave room in the glass for cream. Gently pour just enough whipped cream to top off – distribute and level the cream with the barspoon. Using a microplane, grate a coffee bean in the center of the cream to garnish.
Licking the glass clean at the end is perfectly acceptable, don’t be ashamed.
Scotland (mid-17th century)
There’s a tradition passed down from generation to generation, from the Old Country to the New World, of Hot Toddies in the winter months to cure whatever ails may (or may not) be present. Jimmy Russell, veteran master distiller at Wild Turkey, recently told me when he and his friends were growing up in Kentucky, they learned to fake a cough so they could get in a little nip of bourbon at age eight.
The Hot Toddy is traditionally made with a good-quality single malt Speyside or Highland Scotch whisky, but feel free to sub in bourbon, rye, an aged or dark rum, brandy or cognac. But really, Scotch works best. Old-school and as simple as they come: spirit served warm with dilution, something sweet, and a touch of citrus brightness. It’s easy think of this drink as a template and experiment with dressing it up – try different sweeteners (honey is common), a splash of lemon juice, even a mix of different spirits. You’ll be feeling better in no time.
Hardware: Jigger, Plastic measuring cup
Glassware: Ceramic or glass mug
Spirit: Scotch whisky (recommended: The Macallan, The Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Dalmore, Oban, Glen Garioch)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Demerara sugar, Boiling water
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lemon twist
Pre-warm a ceramic or glass mug with boiling water while you’re assembling the ingredients. Discard the water, then combine in the mug:
1 tsp demerara sugar
1/4 cup boiling water (use the plastic measuring cup)
1 lemon twist
Stir to dissolve sugar, then add:
2 oz Scotch whisky
Stir again to blend.