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Illustration by Alberto Vargas from Playboy magazine, March 1967

Illustration by Alberto Vargas from Playboy magazine, March 1967

What to kill that dull ache in your head after a night of too much Champagne?  What to eat on a queasy stomach?  How about the best of both worlds?  A drinkable foodstuff?  Enter January 1st’s national libation, the Bloody Mary (or if you prefer The Red Snapper).  Rather than going into the history behind the drink, although quite fascinating, instead today I will provide you with some of the original recipes as first published in the 40’s and 50’s and let you pick one that seems appealing.

Red Snapper – Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion by Crosby Gaiges 1941
2oz tomato juice
2oz vodka
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 dash of lemon juice
Salt, pepper and red pepper to taste
Shake well and serve in a Delmonico glass

Bloody Mary – Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe 1946
3oz Vodka
6oz Tomato Juice
2 Dashes of Angostura bitters
Juice of half a lemon
Shake together with ice or mix in Waring mixer and serve cold in highball glass

Bloody Bloody Mary – Bottoms Up! by Ted Saucier 1951
1½ oz Vodka
3oz Tomato
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of ½ lemon
Dash celery salt
Shake and serve in an Old Fashioned glass over a lump of ice, garnish with a mint sprig

Bloody Mary – Esquire’s Drink Book by Frederic Birmingham 1956
8oz Tomato Juice
3oz Vodka
Juice of two lemons
White of one egg
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 celery leaves
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

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originalSo, who is Steve and why is he crazy?  It has something to do with an abundance of homegrown cucumbers, a Sister Hazel song and his Slovakian grandmother.  You can read the whole story on his website.  But, in the end, it’s the products you’re interested in, right?

Crazy Steve’s makes pickles, salsas and Bloody Mary mixes.  Quite a few varieties in fact, but Steve sent GSN the following four products for review.

Crazy Steve’s Badass Barnacle Bloody Mary Mix (32oz)  Thick and tasty with just enough heat to wake up your mouth.  The spice blend is well-balanced, while the tomato has a slight sweetness to it which is juicy and fresh.  All you need to add is ice, vodka and a stalk of celery, and you’re ready to go!   GSN Rating: B+

Crazy Steve’s Ghostship Bloody Mary Mix (32oz)  Containing the mouth scalding ghost pepper, this Bloody Mary mix is not for the faint hearted.  One sip and your mouth with feel the heat for a good long time.  For those who are into “the burn” this is great stuff, but in my opinion the pepper overwhelms the other flavors to the point where all subtlety is lost.  I prefer the Badass Barnacle version by far.  GSN Rating:  C-

Crazy Steve’s Cajun Cukes (16oz) I’ve been snacking on these for several days.  The jar is filled with a variety of spices, herbs and a salty brine.  They have a defined crunch and a bit of heat.  Not too garlicky or salty, but retain much of the original cucumber flavor.  These are discs as opposed to quarters or a whole pickle, so I’m not sure how they would work as garnishes.  But, as bar snacks, they will do fine.  GSN Rating: B-

Shot Over the Rim Spicy Bloody Mary Salt (6oz)  Yeah, this is spicy, but not overly so.  This will make a good rim for a Bloody Mary and add some saltiness and extra heat to the drink.  Reminiscent of spicy BBQ potato chips.  The texture is pretty granular and cakes up to some degree, but overall it stays on the glass where it should.   GSN Rating: C+

For more information go to: Crazy Steve’s

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IMG_4297-800As I’ve stated in a previous review of the ubiquitous Bloody Mary, it is THE one cocktail that has endless variations.  So much so, that it is almost an artistic statement.  One of the latest versions was created by my friend Jonathan Pogash.   I asked him where the idea for using heavily peated Scotch whisky came from.

“Inspired by whiskies of Islay and originally created and served at the Carnegie club in NYC, on of the bar programs I work on… It’s a smoking lounge so it fit perfectly. Also the base recipe is my fathers and appears in his book “Bloody Mary”.”

The recipe is a punch, so I redacted the amounts to make a single serving.  It works quite well.  The drink itself is tasty with an unusual sweetness along with the smokiness.  I’d order one of these on a Sunday morning!

Bloody Scotsman
(Makes 14-16 servings, single serving amounts are in parentheses)

24oz smoky scotch whisky (2oz)
24oz tomato juice (2oz)
24oz V8 cocktail juice (2oz)
1 cup ketchup (.66oz)
3oz lime juice (.25oz)
3oz simple syrup (.25oz)
0.75oz worcestershire sauce (1/4 tsp)
1 tsp ground white pepper (dash)
1 tsp ground black pepper (dash)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (just a hint)
fine sea salt (dash)

Mix ingredients together, stirring often, in a large container, adding salt to taste.  Chill for at least 24 hours before serving.  Serve in ice-filled old-fashioned glasses.

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IMG_4219-800Much has been said about the origin of the Bloody Mary, so I will not repeat it here.  Suffice it to say, that no one will know for sure who created this drink, but it most likely started out as nothing more than tomato juice spiked with vodka.  If you want to delve deeper into the story, I’d suggest picking up a copy of “Bloody Mary” by Jeffrey M. Pogash, which I’ve reviewed here.

This particular version of the Bloody Mary as published in the Mr. Boston guide is unfortunately rather lackluster.  I’m not sure why it calls for lime juice, instead of lemon, but it doesn’t serve it well in my opinion.  As well, the proportions are off and the garnishes are minimal.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, the Bloody Mary is the one cocktail that has a virtually endless array of variations.  Be that as it may, the one key is to “roll the drink” as opposed to building, shaking or stirring.  It takes a little practice, but is well worth it in the end.  Plus, it looks très cool in front of the person who will be drinking it.

Bloody Mary
1.5oz vodka
3oz tomato juice
0.25oz lime juice
4 dashes worcestershire sauce
2-3 drops hot sauce
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Garnish: lime wedge, celery stalk

Roll with ice between both halves of Boston shaker.  Strain into ice-filled old-fashioned glass.  Garnish with lime and celery.

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It makes sense that tomato juice and tequila go together.  They both have a sort of sweet and salty quality, plus the Sangrita (little blood) cocktail is made with tomato juice and is designed to be consumed along with shots of tequila.

However, that being said, I felt that this Mexican version of the Bloody Mary, didn’t work very well.  It seems lacking in depth and vibrancy.  I think the ratios are off.  I’d up the tequila to 1.5 ounces and the tomato juice to 4 ounces.  There is promise here, but not the way this recipe is published.

Bloody Maria
1oz blanco tequila
2oz tomato juice
0.25oz fresh lemon juice
1 dash hot red pepper sauce
1 pinch celery salt
Garnish: lemon wheel

Stir with ice.  Strain into ice-filled old-fashioned glass.  Add lemon wheel.

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IMG_4191-800To be honest, the Bloody Mary is one of those drinks that for me, I can only have on a rare occasion.  I’ve never been big on vegetable juices, although I love tomatoes.  I came to an appreciation of the iconic brunch-y cocktail several years ago on my first trip to New Orleans.  While I was there, I decided I should try one since it was on the menu.  Surprisingly, I enjoyed it to some degree.

Over the years, I’ve had several different kinds ranging from homemade pale pinks versions where fresh tomato puree is strained through cheesecloth; to hot and spicy versions that left my mouth burning.  One that I never tried until now is the version that calls for beef bouillon.  I figured I’d have one sip and toss the rest down the drain.  Not so.

In fact, this version worked wonders for me.  I finished it in under five minutes and was left wanting more.  I used an organic tomato juice (R.W. Knudson) and “Better Than Bouillon Beef Base” (instead of the usual bouillon cube or powder).  I feel that both of these choices took the drink into the luscious category.

Give this one a try, and see what you think.  You may never look back.  Oh, and if you happen to be in New Orleans, you can order one of these at Commander’s Palace, where the Brennan family originally created it.

Bloody Bull
1oz vodka
2oz tomato juice
2oz cold beef bouillon
Garnish: lemon wedge, lime wheel

Pour into ice-filled highball glass.  Stir.  Squeeze and add lemon.  Garnish with lime wheel.

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41FT7P520oL._SY300_There are plenty of Bloody Mary pre-mixes out there, each with a claim to be “the best”.  The latest version by The Murph’s is certainly one of the tastier versions I’ve tried.  Stephen Murphy is the creator behind this blend, and he’s done a nice job.  Quite balanced, with a subtle heat and a tangy tomato base, this is very drinkable on its own.  The consistency is thick and will hold up well to dilution over ice.  I recommend using gin instead of vodka, or for an extra kick of flavor, try it with an anejo tequila.  GSN Rating: B

For more information go to: Murph’s Famous

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