When it comes to a weekend drink in the morning, bloody marys are the savory, boozy beverage of choice. This mixture of vodka and tomato juice starts the day with a cool, refreshing kick. However, a good bloody mary goes far beyond the simple vodka, tomato juice combo. In fact, the recipe has developed over the past hundred years, becoming more complex since its Parisian beginnings in the early 1900s. The vodka-tomato juice pairing is said to have originated with a bartender named Ferdinand Petiot at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France. What started as a two-ingredient cocktail took on new dimension and changed names as it traveled from Paris to America. The addition of Tabasco and horseradish gives the drink its distinct spice, while the celery garnish was added in the 1960s to help balance the beverage. After years of refinement, the classic bloody mary has earned a spot on many a cocktail list.
Classic Bloody Mary
2 ounces vodka
4 ounces tomato juice
3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 dashes Tabasco or preferred hot sauce
½ teaspoon horseradish
½ lemon wedge
In a shaker, pour all ingredients and squeeze the juice from the lemon wedge. Discard the lemon wedge. Pour the mixture back and forth into another glass to combine. Fill a highball glass with ice and pour the cocktail over. Garnish as desired and enjoy.
Once the classic becomes second nature, begin to play with the mix, adding more spices or different flavors, like jalapenos or an ounce of celery juice.
Modern cocktail bars and brunch spots boast their own unique bloody mary concoctions. With toppings as wild as mini-grilled cheese and secret ingredients, this cocktail has truly become a delectable art form. Bring that art into your own bar and elevate the classic bloody mary with only a few simple tricks.
Start with the most important ingredient: vodka. While this spirit is great on its own, a simple infusion can really raise the bar, so to speak. When it comes to infusing, don’t worry about using a top shelf liquor. A mid-to-low priced vodka can be elevated with added ingredients. To create an infusion, combine 4 parts vodka with 1 part infusion ingredients in an airtight container. Let the vodka infuse at room temperature for up to a week, depending on preferred strength of the infusion flavors. Once the vodka has reached the desired flavor, strain the liquid and discard the infusing ingredients. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
A couple of infusions that pair well with bloody marys include peppercorns, freshly sliced cucumber, and even bacon. For a peppercorn infusion, be sure to use whole peppercorns, not ground.
Like the bow on top of a well wrapped present, the toppings and garnishes on a bloody mary complete the package. Pickles and olives bring their savory brine and make for a great snack once the glass is empty. For an extra Southern flare, reach for a jar of pickled okra. Celery stalks and citrus wedges provide a fresh relief from an extra spicy drink, but keep some extra hot sauce on hand for those who like to kick it up a notch. Fresh herbs not only look pretty on the bar and in the glass, they also contribute to the drink’s smell and flavor.
For those who like to take their booze with more booze, a topper is just the thing. A couple ounces of a Citra hop IPA or Guinness are unexpected ingredients to set your bloody mary above the rest.