Things here at Boredwalk HQ can get pretty hectic during the week (and Meredith and I are certainly no strangers to printing shirts, creating new designs, or fielding customer service questions over the weekend — I'll be here at the office for at least a couple hours tomorrow), so one of our favorite ways to unwind on Saturdays & Sundays is to indulge in the time-honored meal mash-up that is brunch.
Whether we're meeting up with friends to dine out, or staying in to whip up some deconstructed avocado toast salad or a vegan omelet (yes, they exist, and yes, they're delicious — I'll prove it in a later blog post) one thing is a must — a stiff pre-noon cocktail to aid digestion.
Mimosas and bellinis are all well and good, but I prefer a beverage that drinks like a meal unto itself. Enter: the Bloody Mary.
At its core, a Bloody Mary is more or less just tomato juice and vodka over ice. It's evolved a bit over the last century, but to this day I still encounter some truly sad, basic afterthoughts where the only nod to flavor is a dash of black pepper, squirt of lemon juice, and a drop or two of Worcestershire sauce and/or hot sauce served in a highball so crammed with ice it may as well just be a glass of tangy red water.
I've also had some fantastic Bloody Marys at fine establishments, but a responsible adult beverage enthusiast should really have a solid handful of original recipes to fall back on when staying in or having company over. I've made it something of a personal mission over the last several years to perfect the Bloody Mary. The good news? Mission accomplished! The bad news? It's not the most traditional recipe. Note I didn't title it the best classic Bloody Mary recipe ever...anyway, onward.
What makes this Bloody Mary different is both a liberal (some might say excessive) use of herbs, seasonings, and dill pickle brine, as well as the presence of mezcal in addition to the usual vodka.
Mezcal is a relative of tequila, but with a distinctive smoky flavor that balances the sweetness of vodka and gives the dominant tomato flavor more character. Next time you're in the mood for a savory cocktail, mezcal is your pal!
As for the pickle brine, this is used in lieu of the more traditional lemon juice. I've always found that the lemon juice in Bloody Marys adds too much acidic "brightness" that tastes more like it's just sort of floating on top of the other flavors rather than acting as an integral part of the whole flavor profile. Pickle brine still adds that brightness, but in a more muted and complementary way than lemon juice does. If the mixology purity police take umbrage with this recipe, fine — we'll call it a Dirty Mezcal Mary!
• 1 jigger vodka (whatever brand you'd like. I find the selection of spirits at Trader Joe's is both top-notch and economical.)
• 1 jigger mezcal (see above.)
• 1 1/2 jiggers dill pickle brine
• Tomato juice (around 3/4 cup, but the amount will vary based on the size of your glass.)
• Several dashes ground black pepper
• Pinch ground celery seed (NOT celery salt)
• Dash cajun seasoning
• Dash seafood seasoning
• Dash ground chipotle powder (this stuff brings the heat, so add gradually til desired taste is achieved.)
• Several dashes of hot sauce (I like a spicy Bloody Mary, but if you don't, just add a couple dashes or none at all according to your taste.)
• Dill pickle, for garnish (optional)
• Celery stalk, for garnish (optional)
• Olive, for garnish (optional)
Fill highball or tumbler glass halfway with ice. This is important! Don't water down your beverage AND make it difficult to properly mix your ingredients together.
Add vodka, mezcal, pickle brine, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings & spices. Stir to thoroughly combine.*
*No, I don't use a cocktail shaker for this. It breaks up the ice and adds too much water to the proceedings, AND adds more clean-up.
Add enough tomato juice to leave approximately 1" (that's 2.54cm if you're a metric fan) of space in the glass to allow for displacement when you add your garnishes; stir to combine again. Taste & adjust seasonings according to your preference. Garnish with a dill pickle, celery stalk, olive, or whatever else you'd like, and serve/drink.
Some places do a season salt rim on their Bloody Marys. I'm ambivalent about this, as sometimes their Bloody Mary mix is already too salty (this is why I recommend using celery seed instead of celery salt, since there's already plenty of saltiness imparted by the cajun seasoning, seafood seasoning, and pickle brine) and a rim just ruins the whole thing by making every sip aggressively salty.
If you do decide to go this route, I recommend salting the rim of your glass first. Take a small plate, add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp cajun seasoning, and mix to combine while dry. Moisten the rim of your glass with the edge of your pickle, place the rim against the plate and twist to pick up some of the salt mixture. If you want to go salt-crazy, moisten a bit more of the rim — about 1/2 inch — and put the salt mixture on a flat surface like a cutting board. Place the glass on its side and roll through the mixture. Then progress to the making of the cocktail.
That's it for this week! I hope you enjoy your weekend, and if any of you are out marching for our lives to stop gun violence, stay safe out there!
Peace, love, and cocktails,