A few tips for a great classic Bloody Mary cocktail recipe, for your celebratory brunches and beyond! Mix your own or use a quality purchased Bloody Mary mix.
In the late ‘80s, the hottest ticket on a football Saturday morning on campus was certainly whoever Notre Dame was playing that day. A close second, though, was an invite to the Alumni Hall Bloody Mary/Screwdriver party hosted by my brother and his friends. I was thrilled to be included in these pre-game, dorm room drink-festivals. Here I discovered that tomato juice is far from yucky, when mixed with the juuuust the right ingredients and imbibed on a cool, crisp Saturday morning to the tune of Wake Up the Echoes in the background.
But with no recipe in hand and Dick having graduated, I faced my sophomore year needing to figure out the recipe for myself. And you know what they say about necessity.
The Bloody Mary is a forgiving cocktail and should be tailored to your taste and that of your guests. I prefer the complexity of V8 to plain tomato juice; others insist Clamato is the only solution. Yes, you can also use a mix, and there’s no shame in that—especially now that such fine versions are available (you don’t have to settle for Mr. & Mrs. T’s). I’m a big fan of McClure’s and the mix from our friends at the beloved American Spoon because they are fantastic and because the makers are fellow Michiganders.
Whether you mix the Bloody Mary yourself or use a pre-made version, be sure to measure the alcohol correctly (use a jigger). Because the tomato is such a strong flavor, it can obscure the taste presence of vodka in the drink. You don’t realize you’ve added too much vodka until you’ve had so many your tongue is numb . . . and then it’s too late. At least that’s what I’ve been told.
A word on garnishes:
It’s become the vogue at brunch spots to jam in everything but the kitchen sink (salami sticks, shrimp cocktail, pickled green beans or asparagus) in an effort to make this drink look outrageous. I say let’s garnish simply so we keep the bloody drink a drink, with three Spanish olives speared on a toothpick, a wedge of lemon and/or a long celery stick.
This recipe is for one Bloody Mary; if you're using a mix, use jut the vodka, hot sauce, and garnishes over ice, and none of the other ingredients. To make for a crowd, mix in a large pitcher, increasing the proportions based on the number of guests. Don't include the alcohol in the pitcher for mixing. Serve the pitcher of mixed Bloody Mary alongside glasses filled with ice, garnishes, and the bottle of vodka so guests can measure out their own alcohol; many prefer a lighter drink and want to control how much alcohol goes in.
- 2 oz. vodka (spicy versions work well)
- 1 lemon, half for juice and half for a garnish wedge
- 6 oz. V8 tomato juice
- 1 teaspoon dill pickle juice (yes brother, I figured it out!)
- 1-2 shakes celery salt
- 1-2 grinds black pepper
- Dash hot sauce (optional)
- 3 large pimento-stuffed green olives
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail mixer filled with ice and stir for thirty seconds until well mixed. Strain into a tall Collins glass filled with fresh ice.
Skewer a small toothpick (fringe is nice) with the three olives, and another with a couple of lemon (and/or lime) wedges. Place these in the top of the cocktail glass, nestled in the ice. Serve immediately.