So what is it that makes a good Bloody Mary? I will argue that the more ingredients the better, which is simplistic, but I believe true. Which ingredients?
Start with good vodka. Infused vodkas are an interesting element, but not totally necessary. Flavored vodkas are a big fat NO in my book. Too chemically and just not necessary to get flavor from the vodka itself.
The tomato juice. You can go simple or fancy with this ingredient. Lots of good mixes are out there, but my favorite way to go is Spicy V-8. There is more nutritive value in it, and we all know that a Bloody Mary is a drink and a meal. Regular V-8 is good too, but the spicy version just gives you a head start on heating it up if you like your bloody mary spicy. And you should.
Everyone has a bit of a different preference for what they like in theirs, but here is a good list of what should be available at any Bloody Mary-making station worth its salt:
- Celery (leave that fancy flourish on the top to make your drink extra decadent)
- Dilly Beans
- Pickled Asparagus
- Lemon Wedges
- Lime Wedges
- Optional: Bacon, Pepperoncini, Artichoke Hearts, Jalepenos or other peppers, Cheese Cubes, Salami, Sliders, Deviled Eggs, Chilled Shrimp
Seasonings and Spices:
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Tobasco/Cholula/Tapatio and/or other picante sauces
- Horse Radish
- Celery Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Chopped Garlic
- Dill Weed
- Pickle Juice
So…did I get it right? Did I cover all of the bases for making a sensational Bloody Mary? I like mine in a pint glass or iced-tea glass, seasonings on the bottom and ice cubes on the top of them to hold down the gritty stuff. Stick all those edibles on a skewer or two. You’ll have yourself a masterpiece. I prefer to drink with a straw if available, and aim the bottom of the straw halfway down the drink. Also if you can let it sit for five minutes before drinking it, the flavors all mingle and the ice thins it up a bit.
I once went to a party in Colorado where they had a Build-Your-Own Bloody Bar set up. There were a few bartenders in the house, so I picked up some great pointers on how to make it the way I like it.
I noticed in New York at a brunch a few years ago, that the New York natives wanted tons of horse radish. So when I ordered spicy I expected the heat from the hot sauce and peppers….and was not excited when my drink showed up with a ton of horse radish. Bleh. Not for me, I’m afraid. Perhaps a regional pattern can be determined?
One last thought: Denver International Airport bars serve a mean Bloody Mary. I asked about it once and was told they use a mix but the barkeep didn’t know which one. So if anyone stops in at !DIA for one, ask until we know!
Comment with your preferences, ingredient ideas and favorite places to order this beloved cocktail!