There are a handful of cocktails that every amateur mixologist, entertainer, and spirits connoisseur ought to know how to make. Forget the elaborate ones, the ones with silly names, and the fad drinks. Learn how to make a few iconic drinks, know how to make them perfectly, and you’re good to go. These are cocktails like the old fashioned, the gin and tonic, a martini (standard and dirty), and of course, the bloody mary. One of the few socially acceptable morning cocktails (because it’s got tomato juice in it, probably), it’s great for brunch, a zesty pick-me-up, and it’s got a bit of the hair-of-the-dog to help offset the other drinks from the night before. Plus, the bloody Mary is really colorful and pretty to look at.
We’ve scoured the web and our old bartending books to bring you this: the recipe for the perfect bloody mary.
Presentation is key
A bloody mary ought to be an eye-popping showstopper—it’s not clear shots in a little tiny glass or a tall glass of brown ale—so celebrate the drink by serving it up right. First, pour some celery salt onto a plate, and then gently rub a lemon or lime wedge (or both) all along the edge of a pint glass. Make sure not to do this too hard, however—just enough to get the citrus essence onto the rim. You’ll save those wedges for later in the process.
Next, rub the edge of the glass in the salt, and salt that rim. You’ll get an extra bit of flavor with every sip. Fill the glass with ice, and set it aside for a second.
Keeping spirits up
Squeeze the rest of the lime and lemon wedge into a cocktail shaker (then, just throw them in there). Next comes the vodka: pour in two ounces of really good stuff. Since only a little is going to be used, and because the bloody mary is a sipping drink, it pays to use a nice, smooth, vodka that’s been filtered a bunch of times. Yes, it’s a neutral spirit, but a nasty vodka will spoil the drink and overwhelm the other ingredients.
The next ingredient: tomato juice. Homemade isn’t necessary—the standard stuff in a plastic jug from the store is fine. Spicy isn’t necessary, either (heat will be added in separately), and neither is organic. But do avoid anything that comes packaged in a metal can, since the tomato juice tends to take on the metallic flavor of its vessel and impart it into the bloody mary. Pour four ounces of juice into the shaker and follow it up with two dashes of Tabasco sauce. The vodka shouldn’t bring that distinctive sting to the drink—that’s the Tabasco’s job.
‘Tis the seasoning
The Tabasco isn’t the only source of zing (and flavor). Next into the shaker comes two teaspoons of prepared horseradish—the kind that comes in the little bottle. It adds a bit of heat to the aftertaste, just enough to feel it in your nose and to prevent your from drinking the bloody mary too fast. After that, toss in two dashes of Worcestershire sauce. It’s barely detectable in the final product, but mixology is all about the careful balance of ingredients. Finally, put in a dash of pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika. It counters the acidity of the tomato juice and the punch of the spice, while also providing a rich, savory flavor and deep mouthfeel.
Shaken, not stirred
Close up the shaker and gently shake the ingredients for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain it into the salt-rimmed glass full of ice. Don’t forget to garnish with the traditional celery stick and lime wedge or a couple of green olives, a jalapeño, a cornichon, or all of the above, if your glass is big enough. You can run with pretty much anything green to offset the deep red of the drink, plus they make for a quick and handy snack if the brioche French toast is taking too long.