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The best Bloody Mary (or Virgin Mary) mix

March 21, 2019

glasses of Bloody Mary and lots of tomatoes

As I’m settling into my seat on a flight and I spot the drinks trolley making its way up the aisle, the urge for a Bloody Mary takes over (and I’m not alone). They say that your taste buds are dampened through the pressurised cabin of a plane and you crave salty, spicy, full flavours. This classic cocktail certainly delivers that – but why do I have it so rarely when my feet are on the ground?

Before a friendly Boules tournament on the beach the other weekend, I stirred up a jugful as we gathered in my kitchen. As I’m never knowingly under-catered there was a lot of the mix left and I drank it ‘sans alcohol’ as a spicy, liquid appetiser through the week. What I’m saying is that this is delicious with or without vodka.

Making the mix in advance allows the flavours to blend and intensify. It cools down in the fridge so that you don’t need ice (I hate that wateriness as it melts) and all you have to do is pour into a glass and add a celery stick – plus a shot of vodka (or gin for a drink variously called a Red Snapper or a Happy Mary).

If you search for a Bloody Mary on Pinterest, the variations of garnish are completely over the top. It’s like mezze in a glass. I wouldn’t be averse to olives, crispy bacon, crudités, cherry tomatoes and gherkins on the side for grazing but who came up with the idea to perch them precariously on the drink? The danger of getting something down your front would completely outweigh any pleasure for me.

So this is a classic. Great before a leisurely Sunday lunch, a welcome to the weekend aperitivo or as a rousing pick you up if you’re feeling slightly jaded. When was the last time you had one?

Bloody Mary (or Virgin Mary)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A classic cocktail that's like a savoury, spicy appetiser in a glass.

It’s quite a long list of ingredients so I’ve given alternatives but if you do use them all then no-one need add any extra seasoning or spices.

Ingredients

  • 2 litres of tomato juice (not from concentrate)*
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce*
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco*
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of tomato ketchup
  • 75ml of fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice*
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt*
  • 1 scant teaspoon of grated fresh horseradish or horseradish sauce*
  • 1 teaspoon of shallot, chopped
  • a generous grind of black pepper
  • 30ml dry or medium sherry*
  • celery sticks
  • Half a bottle of vodka (stored in freezer if you like)

Directions

  1. Pour 500ml tomato juice into a power blender (like a Vitamix).
  2. Add the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, tomato ketchup, lemon juice, orange juice, celery salt, horseradish, shallot, black pepper and sherry.
  3. Whizz until very smooth and pour into a large jug, add the rest of the tomato juice, stir well and refrigerate overnight. If you do this in an ordinary blender you might have to pour through a sieve before serving, just check that it’s really smooth.  Stir well just before you pour it.
  4. Measure out 30ml vodka into a glass, pour in the mixture, stir and garnish with a celery stick. Ice (and vodka) optional.

*Alternative ingredients: if using blended fresh tomatoes make sure you sieve them; there are vegan versions of Worcestershire sauce if you are avoiding anchovies but do not leave this out; Tabasco is traditional (and purists will say essential) but use the chilli sauce you have in the cupboard if necessary – sriracha could be good; you could leave out the orange juice but this adds to the mellow flavours; do not leave out the celery salt; horseradish gives a fiery heat but could be omitted; vermouth could be used instead of sherry.

glasses of Bloody Mary and lots of tomatoes

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 31, 2019 9:34 pm

    Good Lord, you have set me up for a serious craving! On US long haul flights this is what my husband always gets, but of course without any of the gorgeous details that your recipes has. I think it is just a good old mini of vodka, Mrs T’s Bloody Mary mix and a shake of tabasco. I am desperate to whittle down this recipe for 4 serves and get cracking. And yes, I am sharing! PS my daughter bar tends in the summer at a posh golf club and the secret ingredient to her Bloody Mary’s that she picked up there is a dash of sweet chilli sauce. I kid you not. It’s gorgeous. True!

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