This week, I’m down in Florida visiting my parents and letting my boy meet his cousin for the first time! It’s going to be a few fun filled weeks playing with babies, cooking good food, hanging out with family, and of course, making cocktails! My Mom is a huge fan of the Bloody Mary, and while I don’t drink them myself (Vodka has the same effect on me that whiskey has on a lot of people, it’s not my friend!) I love making them for her. I think it’s because vodka and tomato juice are the perfect canvas for so many creations. You can make the drink as simple or complex as you like. My Mom likes to call them a meal in a glass, and when you start adding meats, shrimp, bacon, and other entrée items to the glass, you really can fill up on one!
There are some conflicting stories as to where the Bloody Mary got its start. The version that I like to go with is told by Ferdinand Petiot of the New York Bar in Paris, France. This was a famous bar, frequented by Ernest Hemingway. Petiot claimed he created the tomato-vodka drink in 1921 and it took off from there, each new destination it landed on added their own twist. I think this account is my favorite, because it has all my favorite components; Paris, New York, alcohol, and a great author and explorer. I like to imagine Hemingway bellying up to the bar around eleven when he rolled out of bed (ok, maybe it would be later in the afternoon!) and ordering a Bloody to help fight his hangover so that he could start his day. It would be just the pick me up that he would need to get his mind right to pen the great American novel, while bantering back and forth with dignitaries, locals, and my favorite character from his story, his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. She was his equal in every way, and probably indulged in several Bloody’s herself!
Enough of my romanticizing about Hemingway and days of yore….back to the cocktail at hand! The most obvious origin of the name Bloody Mary would be from Queen Mary I of England. She was known as Bloody Mary for her persecution of people of the Protestant Faith during her reign. It was a legacy that she probably didn’t want, but was saddled with, after all the deaths that occurred under her rule of England. Bloody Mary is also said to be a scary women who appears in the mirror is you turn out the lights and say her name three times. We’ve all done it at a sleep over, and no one ever appears, even though you tell all your friends that she did! I like to think this folk lore version is a play on Queen Mary, giving her the rightful claim as the name sake of the Bloody Mary. There are several other Mary’s who would like the make the claim, but since this is my blog, I get to decide who gets top billing, so for this story, it goes to Queen Bloody Mary I of England (another one of my favorite places for history and inspiration!)
Like I said before, the base of a Bloody Mary, tomato juice and vodka, is a blank canvas for whatever your imagination holds. If you’re in Charleston, S.C., you probably put boiled shrimp in yours, making it a true shrimp cocktail! The French Quarter in New Orleans adds crawfish for a truly unique flair. If you’re in the Midwest, everyone’s best friend is bacon, so why not replace the mundane celery stalk with your favorite piece of fried pork! Feeling Italian? Add some of your favorite antipasto faves to your cocktail. On a rainy day, a grilled cheese is the perfect garnish. The world is your oyster, so to speak (also good in a Bloody Mary style shooter!) when it comes to your Bloody Mary. One of my favorite party setups is a Bloody Mary bar, where guests can build their own drink. It’s fun to watch everyone’s personality come out when they create their unique cocktail. You provide the base and the garnishes, they do the rest!
To narrow down the choices for my Bloody Mary recipe this week, I went to my old standby, Garden and Gun to find inspiration. As usual, I wasn’t disappointed. I immediately went to the article entitled “The Queen of Bloody Marys”. It was kismet! I like to take drink recipes and give them my own twist. With this one, there was very little I wanted to do to change it! It is the perfect recipe and holds all of my favorite ingredients. I would make it my own by using local Lexington, Sadistic Mistress Hot Sauce (to order, click here) and some of my garnishes would be pickled peppers that I made with locally grown peppers. I flew down here and anticipated making Bloody Mary’s and knew these would be staples that I needed. I put the jars in plastic bags and packed them in my checked bag. I know TSA had fun looking at my Sadistic Mistress pickled peppers! I have to tell myself that people have to pack weirder things than me! Other than that, I wanted to keep this recipe as true to the original as possible. How could I go wrong? It’s from one of the best pork restaurants in New Orleans and doesn’t use any pre-mixes. Just tomato juice, vodka and flavor. At Cochon, executive chef Donald Link has perfected his form with the addition of pork jus, an obvious by product of his cooking. Don’t worry, if you don’t have pork jus just sitting around (I only do, because we had pork for dinner earlier this week, and I always save pan drippings for emergency situations, like craft cocktails!) Beef broth can be substituted. This recipe makes about 10 – 12 Bloody Mary’s. The mix can be made ahead of time and kept in a pitcher in the fridge for about a week. Add the vodka right before serving.
Cochon Bloody Mary 10-12 servings
1 can V8 (46 oz.) (This is pure tomato juice, so there’s no sense in going to extra trouble to make tomato juice if you don’t have too!)
2 tbsp. finely ground black pepper
2 tbsp. whole grain mustard
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1.5 oz. pork jus
1.5 oz. lime juice
2.5 oz. lemon juice
3.5 oz. hot sauce (I’m using Lexington’s own Sadistic Mistress)
2 oz. green hot sauce
1.5 oz. red wine vinegar
1 oz. olive juice
1.5 oz. okra juice (the brine from a jar of pickled okra)
vodka of choice
– Mix everything, except for the vodka. Remember, you can substitute beef broth for the pork jus. Just pick up a box the next time you’re in the soup isle at the grocery store. I always keep some on hand. You can prepare a meal with almost any ingredients, as long as you have beef broth on hand!
– Add ice to the glass type of your choice. I prefer the taller Collins glass for presentation purposes, but depending on what your garnishes are, and what you have on hand, you can use any glass. Wide rimmed wine glasses are perfect for holding larger garnishes.
– Add about 2 ounces of vodka to the glass.
– Fill the rest of the glass with the Bloody Mary mix you made.
– Stir with a celery stalk or stiff garnish of your choice.
– Garnish and enjoy!
This is what I did for my garnishes:
– I rimmed the glass with bacon salt. Yes, you read correctly…bacon salt. Basically you make bacon, put it through the food processor, pat off any additional fat and mix it with coarse sea salt. It’s amazing and can be used in so many different ways! I ran a lemon wedge around the rim of the glass to wet the rim, so the bacon salt would stick.
– I added some of my own pickled peppers. If your garnishes don’t want to stay on the side of your glass, use a tooth pick to help hold them up.
– I also added a pickled okra and some olives, since I already had the jars out to get the juice!
– Since it was for my mom, I added a few cured meats, because she loves them, but is very good about limiting her intake! She can’t resist when they are on the side of a Bloody Mary…. They make her happy, and obviously I want my Mom to be happy, and to enjoy a great cocktail!
– Where you have meat, cheese is usually a good accompaniment, so I added a few slices.
– She also LOVES garlic, so I added a few whole pieces for her to dunk and enjoy.
– With the bacon on the rim, a bacon stir stick seemed like over kill, until I remembered, you can never have too much bacon!
– I put the lemon and lime wedges for some fresh color and so that she could add a little extra tartness if the mood struck.
– My brother was coming over, and he’ll occasionally indulge in a good Bloody, he also loves pickles. Why not add them as well!?
– The other garnishes were found in the fridge and added on a whim. You can do the same. Just go to your fridge and look at all the jars of various pickled and other condiments that you have. You’ll fill your rim up faster than you think!
– If this drink didn’t have so many other great flavors going on, I would have added some horseradish crème fraiche. Basically you take crème fraiche and mix it would horseradish and add a glob of it to the mixed drink. It dissolves and adds some great flavor. This particular mix is already full of flavor, but if you didn’t have all of these ingredients on hand, or wanted to change things up a bit, omit either the olive or okra juice (or both) as well as one of the hot sauces and possibly the vinegar. Add the crème fraiche in their place.
Play around with the mix. You’ll surprise yourself at how many variations you can come up with!
Set up a Bloody Mary bar at your next get together. With this mix, and your own take on the garnishes, you will be the hit of the social season!