Today's cocktail post was inspired by a question on Twitter asking for a good Bloody Mary recipe, and it is indeed a good topic because they are often so mediocre. And it's not the vodka's fault this time. It's rather that the Bloody Mary is carelessly prepared, a fault I am guilty of, especially on a crapulous Sunday morning. So herewith a more thoughtful and refined Bloody Mary worthy of being called a cocktail.
The key is fresh tomato juice. V-8 vegetable juice or canned tomato juice is heavy and thick and obscures the other ingredients (which is why many prefer Clamato juice, for a "Bloody Caesar," a choice I encourage). Now that we have an abundance of huge overripe tomatoes, it's the perfect time to make your own juice. You want the fiber, but not the seeds (you could of course make this using clear tomato "consommé," in which case I recommend serving it up in a martini glass). Pass tomatoes through some sort of food mill, or pulse in a food processor and pass through a basket strainer to catch the seeds.
I prefer OYO vodka, which is made a couple hours south of here with Ohio red winter wheat and which actually tastes like something rather than pure alcohol (I repeat Paulius's memorable phrase: "We are a nation lobotomized by vodka."). A proper ratio for a good Bloody Mary is 2 parts tomato juice, 1 part vodka.
High umami ingredients elevate the drink (I love the suggestion of adding veal stock, a topping idea). Here, my favorite is fish sauce, an all-purpose flavor enhancer throughout all my cooking when used judiciously. I was sent some of this premium Red Boat fish sauce, which is perfect for this cocktail (very high end; watch the videos in the link, don't brush your teeth with it).
I also like a dash of Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomato and lime. It is the perfect brunch cocktail, savory, refreshing, rejuvenating. If you put some celery in it, you can serve it as a breakfast salad. Best with grits and eggs. If you are a Browns fan, substitute vodka for the tomato juice and triple the quantities.
This is highly inappropriate for tonight's Friday evening cocktail; my suggestion for this evening is The Berkshire Martinez.
Ruhlman's Bloody Mary
- 100 grams fresh tomato juice, with pulp, not seeds
- 50 grams vodka
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon good fish sauce
- pinch salt
- pinch sugar
- several dashes of Tabasco, to taste
- celery (if you want to say you've ordered a salad)
- Combine all ingredients except ice and stir.
- Add ice, stir, add celery if it's your salad course.
Serves one, multiplied as needed per person by weight and made ahead without the ice, but can be sextupled if you happen to be wrecked after an uncommonly festive Saturday evening, and have plenty of eggs, cheese, and bacon in the fridge and grits on stove.
Other links you may like:
- My post on making a Dark and Stormy.
- My only other vodka cocktail post, the Moscow Mule, a variation of the Dark and Stormy.
- A Canadian curling cocktail, the Caesar is a variation of the Bloody Mary.
- Emilia's go-to Bloody Mary spice mix is Stu's This Is Bloody Mary, then she just adds tomato juice and vodka.
- A great article on Harry's New York Bar in Paris from the NYT, learn about its great history.
© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.