UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
From time to time I like to go back to the drawing board with certain cocktails and see if I can work in another twist while still maintaining the integrity of the original. The Bloody Mary is one of my favorite candidates for this, as it is a drink that lends herself to virtually infinite improvisations. You can check out a couple of my other past creations inspired by the tomato juice-based beauty here and here.

This is not to say however that the original Bloody Mary needs any reworking, as I love a straight up classic one done just right on many a weekend morning when I'm in desperate need of something to "round out" my hangover. But the world of cocktails is perhaps one place where the old adage about necessity being the mother of invention doesn't always apply. Sometimes a revision offers up both an opportunity to try something new as well as to praise and recognize the classic source of the inspiration.

Not many know of the history of how the Bloody Mary came to be. And like many other classic drinks, there is also some disagreement about its past. What is not in dispute is that the story of the Bloody Mary begins in Harry's Bar in Paris in the 1920s, where Fernand "Pete" Petiot served a gin-based version of the tomatoey wonder-drink that one of the regulars named "Bucket of Blood."

After Prohibition was repealed, Petiot and his drink repertoire found their way to New York City's King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel, where the drink debuted as the Red Snapper. At the time the drink was still based on gin because vodka had not yet enjoyed the good graces of American palates in the way that gin did. Ironically Prohibition had much to do with the increase in gin's popularity, as vodka was scarce, and gin apparently happened to be one of the easier liquors to bootleg. If you've ever heard the term "bathtub gin" then you understand. In an additionally interesting side note, it seems that the surge in vodka's eventual post-Prohibition popularity was in some ways tied to shrewd efforts by vodka companies to market their product as "clear whiskey" that was odorless, tasteless, and colorless.

But back to the subject at hand. At some point after the drink's American debut the name Bloody Mary took over in popularity, vodka replaced gin, and Tabasco was added to suit American patrons' preference for a bit of kick (though it should be duly noted that the King Cole Bar still calls it a Red Snapper to this day). Eventually the Bloody Mary morphed into what many recognize today, with the addition of celery and other vegetable garnishes appearing in the 1960s, and horseradish becoming a practically indispensable ingredient in the modern day version.

These and the other myriad variations that exist today--Bloody Maria, Bloody Bull, etc.--serve as further testament to the drink's unselfishly easygoing nature and willingness to submit to the endless whim and variation of the human palate without so much as a fuss. So in tribute to a gal that has been unfailingly dependable during some of my most trying mornings (who also happens to be an excellent brunch companion) I offer this variation, which is meant only as an expression of adoration, and not at all a desire for her replacement:

Bloody Mary
- 2 oz. Chile-infused vodka
- 2 oz. Tomato juice
- 1 oz. Clam juice
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Adobo sauce from canned chipotles
- Dash Black truffle oil
- 4 Dashes Celery salt
- 2 Dashes Sea salt
- 2 Dashes Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch Italian flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- Cracked ice
- Spice mix for rimming (I used a brand called Rub From Hell but really you can use any mix of powdered chiles you like--perhaps a mix of cayenne and puebla would be interesting!)
- Celery stick for garnish

Tools: shaker
Glass: double rocks

Rim the glass by first moistening the rim with the lemon, then dipping it in the spice mix. Add everything except the ice to a cocktail shaker and do a dry shake (shake without ice) for about 5-10 seconds, in order to slightly emulsify the truffle oil before introducing the ice. Add the ice and shake again for another 5-10 seconds. Pour contents into your glass and garnish with the celery stick.

So save the coffee and tea for the weekdays, as perhaps only a well-made Mimosa can rival a Bloody Mary when it comes to championing weekend mornings--or afternoons, as the case may be.

I'm glad I got to revisit my old friend, and maybe I'll return from time to time to give her a makeover to ensure she stays as relevant today as she was 80 plus years ago--not that she needs it. Cheers!

Come back every Wednesday for Paystyle's weekly Happy Hour column.

Photography by Vanessa Bahmani
Column: Happy Hour
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10 comments

  • Not a bad idea, minced garlic, though I think garlic salt would work even better, so you get garlic flavor w/o such a pungency.

    Paystyle on

  • A little minced garlic would go nicely with your recipe.

    Anonymous on

  • I actually don’t agree- truffles don’t improve everything, and it is the mark of a crappy chef that thinks it can.

    When I went to French Laundry a few years back they shaved truffles over nearly EVERY SINGLE DISH. It was a disaster- besides the fact that it made the meal 200% heavier, it also overwhelmed the flavors of the rest of the dish. You’re exactly right to use the term “covering”- when truffles are added, fresh or oil, it will turn it into a truffle dish, with veggies and meats in the background.

    Funny story- so at French Laundry, our server kept coming by with her jewelbox of a truffle. This tiny little pebble that costs a gazillion dollars. Anyway, as she was done shaving our dishes, she straight DROPPED the truffle as she tried putting it back into the box.

    It was probably the highlight of the entire meal for me. In all honesty, it’s one of the only things I remember.

    In any case, I can’t wait to try your Bloody Mary to see for myself!!!

    kayoko on

  • The truffle oil, as I had hoped, added such a wonderful touch of hearty earthiness that fits right in with the flavor profile of a Bloody Mary—especially in conjnunction w/the smokiness of the adobo sauce from the chipotles.

    I mean, is there anything that truffles don’t improve? Perhaps this is why it’s regarded as a chef’s cheat for improving/covering up dishes that would otherwise be bland. Though I assure you there was no cheating here, as the remaining ingredients could stand on their own w/o the truffle oil if needed.

    Paystyle on

  • Pardon my tardiness, but I just noticed you put truffle oil in here. WHOA. How does it go with the tomato tartness???

    kayoko on

  • ha. yah, put it in its place!

    kayoko on

  • That’s why I only added a small drop, as I wanted it to only provide a nice background flavor and not completely overpower.

    And I think that’s why the chipotle flavor worked as a great complement/adversary to the truffle oil. The two flavors worked well together, but every time the truffle oil would try to dominate, the chipotle would give it a pimp slap and tell it to sit back down!

    Paystyle on

  • OMG all this bloody mary talk made me thirsty. I want one now.

    Vanessa Bahmani on

  • Mike – That’s why I love the Bloody Mary, as it’s really open to a wide range of flavors w/o losing the essence of what it was when you begun.

    I think the liquid smoke idea is a winner, which the chipotle accomplished in a way and added spiciness at the same time. But let me one-up you by suggesting adding the juice of smoked tomatoes. Aha!

    Paystyle on

  • Regarding the minced garlic, I generally take my bloody marys pretty bold and spicy, so minced garlic used in moderation doesn’t overpower the taste for me. And it adds to the floaty mix at the bottom.

    Further, Celery salt is perhaps my favorite additive to the base mixture, so, garlic salt would be a little redundant for me. As an alternative, a splash of Clausen kosher dill pickle juice can be used to give it the sour/salty taste I prefer.

    And if you’re feeling brave, try a few drops of liquid smoke to finish it off.

    Mike on

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