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What exactly am I missing when it comes to a Bloody Mary?

Chinon00 Apr 17, 2007 05:06 PM

I pride myself on if not appreciating most things, at least understanding what makes them interesting. I don't know what makes a Bloody Mary interesting. I sort of get the romance of a Bloody Mary with Sunday Brunch, but in terms of interesting flavor what am I to look for?


  1. j
    JCap Apr 28, 2007 06:46 PM

    To the OP-
    I look for a savory, spicy, briny punch- not drink punch, like fist punch. A little brightness from some citrus but depth from worcestershire.
    We took a trip to New Orleans earlier this year and had great ones at the Italian restaurant owned by the Brennan's at the W hotel French Quarter- pickled green beans, mmm.

    1. s
      slowfoodgrrl Apr 25, 2007 04:40 PM

      I've heard that a splash of sherry makes the 'Mary. Haven't tried it yet.

      1. n
        NicoleFriedman Apr 25, 2007 04:23 PM

        I know that this is the spirits board but perhaps I may suggest a Virgin Bloody Mary, or one with just a hint of vodka? I love the flavor elements in the drink but usually find the vodka very overpowering (I am sure however this is my own personal preference as I'm not generally a strong alcohol fan) Try it sans alcohol or with less- you may like it a lot more! Or, try a bloody bull (has the addition of beef broth for an extra depth of flavor)

        1. slobhan Apr 19, 2007 10:52 AM

          I just joined the church of the Bloody Mary....that is to say, I didn't "get" it either until we taste tested Bloody Mary mixes for Imbibe Magazine's May/June 2007 issue (it hits newsstands very soon with our picks for the best).

          I had always found them disgusting, despite my intense love for tomatoes. I don't know whether it's age or technique that has me craving the spicy drink Sunday mornings of late.

          Lessons I learned that made me like them more:
          - Add plenty of edible garnishes ranging from Spanish olives to pickled veggies
          - I make them in smaller servings (with ice) so that I can drink them before they become diluted and warmer. Cold is key to my enjoyment.
          - I recently tried making them with Gin (as someone suggests below) and found that it's a more complex and complementary blend than vodka. Just my preference, and non-traditional.
          - I like to think of it as spicy tomato gazpacho. That seems to help. :)

          6 Replies
          1. re: slobhan
            cocktailqueen77 Apr 22, 2007 11:38 PM

            I worked in a bar where the bartender topped off her Bloody Mary's with a splash of Dos Equis Lager (which was the beer on tap). Have to say they were one of the best I have ever had!! Gives it an extra layer of texture and flavor.

            Also what makes a great ingredient to a good BM is if you spice up the horseradish by mixing in such spices like curry, red pepper flakes, and ground black pepper with a dash of hot sauce to make an extraordinary horseradish!! Let the mixture sit for over 24 hours-the flavors really blend well.

            1. re: cocktailqueen77
              Paul N Apr 25, 2007 10:06 AM

              Beer is a great balance for the flavor of a bloody Mary.

              In Milwaukee, where I grew up, Bloodies often come with a mini-beer side car. Either Heineken or one of the local micros. There were always a wide variety of pickled vegetables. One of my favorite places garnished with bleu cheese-filled olives.

              1. re: Paul N
                ctscorp Apr 25, 2007 10:17 AM

                Yes, in Iowa they also are often accompanied by a sidecar, but they're also frequently made with Guinness in them. I don't like it, as I find it waters them down, but the Iowa natives seem to. My favorite bartender here uses tomato, tabasco, worcestershire, horseradish, celery salt, black pepper and pickle juice, and I actually prefer it with cheap vodka so you can taste it through all the other stuff... god now I'm craving one....

                1. re: ctscorp
                  Bobfrmia Apr 25, 2007 11:41 AM

                  I've lived here for close (real close) to 50 years. I've seen people drink tomato juice and beer, but they wouldn't call it a Bloody Mary. I've never seen anyone make a Bloody Mary with beer.

                  1. re: Bobfrmia
                    ctscorp Apr 25, 2007 04:20 PM

                    You in IC, Bobfrmia? At least three restaurants here in town use Guinness in their Marys -- and since bar/restaurant employees tend to overlap in college towns, it's possible that one person started the nasty trend and has simply managed to perpetuate it at new establishments.

                    1. re: ctscorp
                      Bobfrmia Apr 25, 2007 04:43 PM

                      Nope, I'm in Des Moines.
                      I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but I think " the native Iowans" is a rather broad generalization. Leave it to a college town to find new ways to mix alcohol.

          2. Veggo Apr 18, 2007 01:15 PM

            It is both antidote and punishment for the prior evening's behavior.

            1. g
              giveittomikey Apr 18, 2007 12:50 PM

              The seasonings and the vodka are very important I agree, but a poor quality tomato juice will ruin Bloody Mary. I always use Sacramento. For garnish I like pickled brussel sprouts and rim the glass with celery salt.

              1. e
                Erik M Apr 18, 2007 11:35 AM

                Try gin instead of vodka for a Red Snapper.

                And, gin or no gin, try a slug of orange juice and a dash of dry sherry.


                5 Replies
                1. re: Erik M
                  mardy Apr 18, 2007 11:54 AM

                  Jeez, why not add some milk and a little wesson oil?

                  1. re: mardy
                    rworange Apr 18, 2007 12:32 PM

                    An idea from Chow

                    I responded in the wrong but similar thread. Maybe use heirloom tomato juice. Martha Stewart did an article a few years back.

                    1. re: mardy
                      Erik M Apr 18, 2007 12:41 PM

                      And, yet, the fact that someone here advocates the use of artificially-enhanced crap like Beau Monde elicits no similar reaction from you...


                      1. re: Erik M
                        abowes Apr 19, 2007 11:19 AM

                        Re Beau Monde... it was called for in a recipe I wanted to try recently. I found it on the supermarket shelves, read the ingredients, and promply replaced it on the shelves and got the stuff to make my own! Ick. It was like salt, sodium gobbledygookiate, and "spices".

                        However, I imagine the stuff I mixed myself would go quite nicely in a Bloody Mary.

                      2. re: mardy
                        bryan Apr 22, 2007 05:26 PM

                        Actually, Erik is quite right. A little o.j. greatly improves the bloody mary. I do it all the time - my sister says I make the best she's ever had. It's my little secret.

                    2. jbyoga Apr 18, 2007 11:09 AM

                      After you perfect your mix...add a stick of beef jerky for a 'shark attack' a tacky but beloved coctail from some bar in Carmel, Ca.

                      1. Chinon00 Apr 18, 2007 11:06 AM

                        And one other point is that I find them completely disgusting after some of the ice has melted in them. You can obviously go "ice-less" correct, straining like you would a martini?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Chinon00
                          mojoeater Apr 18, 2007 11:10 AM

                          That's part of the beauty. You can do anything you want with a Bloody. There's no perfect mix, unlike a good martini. It's all very subjective.

                        2. tuxedo Apr 18, 2007 10:43 AM

                          muddle some olives!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tuxedo
                            angelo04 Apr 18, 2007 11:31 AM

                            Tuxedo - I love olives, awesome idea, I will try

                          2. angelo04 Apr 18, 2007 10:31 AM

                            The key is it can't be bland. To me the bloody mary is far beyond tomato juice and vodka. Here's mine

                            Good vodka or pepper vodka
                            Craked fresh pepper
                            Pinch of Kosher Salt
                            Minced clove of garlic.
                            if you can take the heat, a slither of minced harbenerro pepper
                            Garnish with a celery stalk, a slice of cucumber and a few queen sized green olives.

                            1. h
                              hilscher11 Apr 18, 2007 10:26 AM

                              Heres some ideas ive used over the years for bloodys marys. I cant give you my exact recipe because i cahnge it up all the time but heres lists of ingridients that i tend to use

                              citron vodka (eiither ketal one or goose normally stoli is good also though)
                              pepar vodka (absolute is by far the best)
                              If i use regular vodka i almost always use potato vodka (chopin) it seems heavier to me.
                              montreal steak seasoning (its awesome garlic, red pepper black pepper it has everyything)
                              fresh lemon and lime everytime
                              fresh cracked black pepper
                              sea salt
                              garlic salt
                              fresh garlic
                              fresh wasabi
                              A1 steak sauce
                              small amount of honey

                              Obviously i dont use all these ingridients at one time. I Think the hard time your having with a bloody mary is your looking for a very refined drink as martinis are. Bloody marys are kinda like the anything goes drink. You drink a martini and if theres to much vermouth the martini is no good. if its not chilled enough the martini is no good. Bloody marys are like the polar oppostie. As in anything goes. ITs kinda the fun in seeing how different everyones are.

                              Hope this helps

                              1. v
                                vptc Apr 18, 2007 05:36 AM

                                Forget vodka, use chilled Saphire Bombay Gin instead and be sure to add fresh lime juice to your drink. Cheers!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: vptc
                                  slobhan Apr 19, 2007 10:40 AM

                                  vptc, I'm with you. Gin all the way! Non-traditional, but the citrus notes in the Gin really balance the spices very nicely.

                                  1. re: slobhan
                                    JMF Apr 19, 2007 11:57 AM

                                    Ditto for using gin. I haven't had a bloody mary with vodka in years.

                                2. uncle rico Apr 18, 2007 05:17 AM

                                  Yes it is a wonderful hangover cure as well as a tasty breakfast drink. I prefer to use either Grey Goose or Ketel One Vodka. The better the booze the smoother and stronger the bloody. I also agree that it must have celery salt, and a good dose of horseradish. And, if you like them spicier which most people do use some red pepper flakes and garnish with a pepporicini. A well made bloody should be almost thick enough to hold your straw up inside the glass.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: uncle rico
                                    Bobfrmia Apr 18, 2007 05:23 AM

                                    The pepperocini is a must. Bite the end off and let the juice run into the drink. I also like to use Snap E Toms tomato chile cocktail. Several hot sauces including a dash of chipotle, and olives with the pepperocini. Don't like celery, I use garlic salt. Then all the standards.My friends call mine Angry Mary's.

                                  2. phelana Apr 18, 2007 05:06 AM

                                    You need a dash of bitters for sure...also a nice Caribbean hot sauce. I use Susie's from Antigua.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: phelana
                                      mardy Apr 18, 2007 05:15 AM

                                      As you would salt or sugar the glass rim for certain drinks, do the same for your bloody mary rim using Old Bay Seasoning (available in spice section). All your friends will comment favorably........

                                    2. Chinon00 Apr 18, 2007 05:03 AM

                                      I appreciate the comments thus far but I'm receiving mostly ingredient suggestions and I'm still not getting what I should be "getting". As an example I enjoy Martinis because of the juniper flavor and aroma (heightened by the vast surface area provided by the glass), its tactile denseness (when chilled properly) and its overall angularity and cleanness. So in these terms what am I to look for in a Bloody Mary?


                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Chinon00
                                        mojoeater Apr 18, 2007 10:43 AM

                                        The beauty of a bloody. The tang of the spices as they hit your tongue. The richness of tomato that lingers after the first taste. That subtle kick as the vodka sneaks its way in.

                                        1. re: mojoeater
                                          Melanie Apr 19, 2007 01:23 PM

                                          well said!

                                          1. re: Melanie
                                            Dennis S Apr 28, 2007 06:30 PM

                                            Should almost taste like a meal - which is why I have the worcetershire just right, but a twist I learned is to add Old Bay as well.

                                      2. e
                                        espinoza Apr 17, 2007 09:25 PM

                                        I think the key to a really good Bloody Mary is extra, extra lime. We go to this place in Rosarito every year and have tried duplicating the bartender's recipe and never quite got it until we realized it was the lime that we were missing. I agree with the others that the other ingredients are key but I think you need a few hearty squeezes of lime juice.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: espinoza
                                          scubadoo97 Apr 23, 2007 11:43 AM

                                          Got to have lime in mine as well. The Worcestershire is a must as well. I like mine spicy usually with Tobasco and black pepper. I've enjoyed them with horseradish. Kind of reminds me of cocktail sauce.

                                        2. Kitchen Queen Apr 17, 2007 09:23 PM

                                          My friends father, rest his soul, made the best. First you MUST start with good vodka. Perry always kept his Stoly's in the freezer. Then he poured his Stoly's over ice. Next came the Clamato, cracked pepper, a little celery salt, worcestershire sauce, tabasco, and the special ingredient Beau Monde seasoning. A quick stir and wella! yummy - the best!
                                          Sometimes, Perry would even squirt a little Stolys to top. Add a lemon slice too! The bomb! :)KQ

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Kitchen Queen
                                            Googs Apr 18, 2007 10:36 AM

                                            You, my dear, just described a Bloody Caesar, not a BM. It's a fav Canadian hangover drink. The Clamato makes the difference. Tomato juice is just too bland an ingredient no matter what you hit it with. I have a heck of a time ordering one in the US.

                                            1. re: Googs
                                              Kitchen Queen Apr 18, 2007 02:19 PM

                                              Bloddy Caesar? OK. Mary or Caesar is very yummy!!! So, Canadians use Beau Monde as well?? How about spicy Clamato? Used that too!!

                                              1. re: Kitchen Queen
                                                zin1953 Apr 18, 2007 02:34 PM

                                                Bloody Mary = tomato juice
                                                Bloody Caesar = Clamato

                                            2. re: Kitchen Queen
                                              angelo04 Apr 18, 2007 10:42 AM

                                              What is Beau Monde seasoning?

                                              1. re: angelo04
                                                rworange Apr 18, 2007 11:27 AM

                                                According to Cook's Thesaurus

                                                "This is a seasoning mix manufactured by Spices Islands that combines salt, onion, and celery flavors"

                                                A recipe to make your own

                                                Another source

                                            3. wowimadog Apr 17, 2007 09:04 PM

                                              celery salt!

                                              1. m
                                                mojoeater Apr 17, 2007 06:44 PM

                                                Horseradish! A good Bloody has lots of it. Some folks even use wasabi. When you get a bland Bloody, it's usually a lack of horsey. Great for hangovers, too.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: mojoeater
                                                  JMF Apr 17, 2007 07:21 PM

                                                  Besides a nice amount of horseradish you also you need a decent amount of Worcestershire, celery seed or celery salt, fresh lemon juice, and Tabasco. All of these flavors need to be solidly present to bring it all together. There was a really good thread or two on Bloodies a few months ago.

                                                  1. re: JMF
                                                    St Paul Susie Apr 17, 2007 07:51 PM

                                                    You need to be hungover. Then it tastes really good.

                                                    and salt - it needs salt - and tabasco, and horseradish. etc etc

                                                    Try one w/ hot pepper vodka - that is a great start.

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