Bon Appétit (September 2009)
When the Bloody Mary was first popularized in the 1920s and 30s, the recipe was simple: Half tomato juice, half vodka.
Since then, Bloody Marys have gotten a lot more complicated. Today, even a basic Bloody is likely to have celery salt, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and horseradish. And the drink hasn't escaped the current mixology trend -- au courant Bloodies include everything from Chinese five-spice to bacon-infused vodka to local, organic heirloom tomatoes.
Yes, it's been an 80-year trend toward a fancier Bloody Mary, and it's culminated in this recipe from Bon Appétit.
We can't imagine a more complicated Bloody than this one. Golden beets? A fennel bulb? Sriracha? Guinness?
Bon Appétit says it's "the best," but the recipe sounded absolutely ridiculous to us. So we couldn't wait to try it out!
With a whopping 17 ingredients, there's a lot going on in this drink. We've made stews with fewer ingredients. It wasn't terribly hard to find any one of the components -- thankfully, we happened to have all the non-produce ingredients on hand, including the Sriracha and Guinness.
So this past Sunday, we headed to the farmers market to pick up the fresh ingredients we needed. "We'll just run down to the market and then enjoy this delicious Bloody when we get back," we thought.
What fools we were! Clearly, we hadn't read the recipe very thoroughly.
After we got home and got into the recipe, we quickly realized the first step is to cook the vegetables down for 50 minutes. "Oh," we thought. "Okay. Well, our Bloody Mary moment will be a little delayed."
While the vegetables were simmering, we finally stopped to read the whole recipe. And that's when we saw it: "Cover and chill overnight." Overnight?!
"This had better be the best %#@*& Bloody Mary we've ever tasted!" we thought.
So we completed the recipe: chop, simmer, cool, blend, blend, blend, add, chill.
Our Sunday brunch cocktail had become a Monday night pre-dinner drink. We mixed in the vodka and filled glasses with ice. We poured. We garnished. We clinked glasses. We sipped.
This Bloody Mary was bloody terrible! Not only was it a huge disappointment given the Herculean bartending it required, the drink wasn't even good on its own merits. For a cocktail that calls for the entire farmers market and the whole kitchen pantry, this Bloody Mary was watery and bland. (And we had actually used more spices and hot sauce than the recipe dictates.)
So save yourself 30 bucks and 36 hours of trouble: Unscrew a bottle of Zing Zang, mix in some vodka and enjoy your Sunday morning.
• 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
• 1 large carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
• 1 large golden beet, peeled, coarsely chopped
• 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, coarsely chopped
• 1 large garlic clove, chopped
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
• 6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
• 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh horseradish
• 2 teaspoons coarsely ground whole black peppercorns
• 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
• 1/4 cup Guinness (optional)
• 3 cups vodka or gin
• Ice cubes
• Lime wedges
• Pickled vegetables (such as okra, green beans, or jalapeños)
• Place first 6 ingredients in large pot. Add enough water just to cover (about 6 cups). Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until vegetables are very soft, about 50 minutes.
• Discard bay leaf. Add 1 tablespoon coarse salt and lemon juice; cool slightly. Working in batches, puree vegetable mixture in blender until smooth. Add enough water, if needed, to measure 8 cups. Cover and chill.
• Grind celery seeds with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt in mortar with pestle or in spice grinder. Add celery-seed salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, horseradish, black pepper, hot chili sauce, and Guinness, if desired, to vegetable puree. Cover and chill Bloody Mary mix overnight.
• Stir Bloody Mary mix and vodka or gin in large pitcher. Fill tall glasses with ice. Divide Bloody Mary among glasses. Garnish with lime wedges and pickled vegetables.