My good friend Todd had a birthday brunch party today and to help him celebrate, I took along a couple of premixed drinks that seemed to go over well. I brought a Bloody Mary premix, and also a Ward 8 premix. I left the Bloody Mary stuff out for folks to pour into a glass and add their own vodka, but for the Ward 8, I mixed the whiskey into the premix myself.
Some of the party guests asked for my recipes, and before I could really explain them, Todd blurted out, “adashofbitters.com!” So, to anyone following Todd’s advice, welcome.
I’ll start with the Bloody Mary and save the Ward 8 for a later post.
I really think that the most important ingredient in a good home-mixed Bloody Mary is good tomato or vegetable juice. I mean, think about it. This is a vodka drink, but will you really taste the vodka? So does it make much sense to use a crappy canned tomato juice with Ketel One? I know a lot of bars do that shit, but it seems pointless to me.
I’m not alone; a lot of bartenders are juicing fresh tomatoes or making a more subtle tomato water from fresh tomatoes. This technique is something I’m eager to try, but it might be too fiddly for most people who just want a good Bloody Mary at home. A good substitute, I’ve found, is a really good bottled juice. Pay attention to what you’re buying. Please, no V-8. It’s okay in a pinch, I guess, but I prefer other juices.
Right now, I’m liking a blend of two juices, and forgive me for mentioning brand names. I’m not getting anything from these vendors but a damn good Bloody Mary. I start with equal measures of R.W. Knudsen Very Veggie Organic and Bella Cucina’s Passata al Pomodoro. (If you’re in NYC, note that Bella Cucina has a stand in the food market in Grand Central Terminal.)
It probably doesn’t matter, in the end, what juice you use–just find something you’d drink on its own, or something you’d cook with. If you wince or say, hey, this juice will do as a morning quaff as I’m rushing for the train, well, don’t use that if you want a good Bloody.
Anyway, to my blend of tomato and veggie juices, I add a healthy amount of lime juice, Sriracha hot sauce, Old Bay seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, Colman’s mustard powder, fresh horseradish, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, Angostura bitters, and lemon bitters. My quantities don’t matter, and probably a thousand bartenders would quibble with my choices; it’s up to you to balance things to your taste.
Our “house” vodka is the unflavored Charbay, although those good folks make a Meyer Lemon vodka that would be great in a Bloody Mary.