As the bank holiday approaches, there’s only one thing for it: Bloody Marys. Come rain or shine – and as we know only too well, neither can be guaranteed on a weekend like this – a Bloody Mary will start your bank holiday properly.
The acceptable face of morning drinking long before bottomless prosecco brunches became a phenomenon, a Bloody Mary is a long, tomato juice-based drink, spiked with vodka and spice, and often served with celery. The Bloody Mary occupies that sweet spot between hangover cure and preprandial. Easier to get your hungover head and palate round than a Prairie Oyster, and with the right amount of spice and tang to whet your appetite – all with enough fruit juice to make you feel less like you’re playing a bit part in Withnail and I.
I drank the best Bloody Mary of my life the morning after my wedding. My first day as a married woman brought me a supremely spicy glass of tomato juice made with Tom Kerridge’s ‘vegetable garden’ vodka, a vodka infused with cucumber and celery, carrot, tomato, herbs and garlic. It was the best possible start to married life. You can make your own idyllic vegetable garden vodka (and clear out your less-than-idyllic vegetable fridge drawer) with incredible ease: pop a bottle of vodka and whatever veg you can lay your hands on into a large container, seal and leave for three days, before straining and bottling.
Like many of the iconic dishes and drinks we explore here, the history of the Bloody Mary is in dispute. Perhaps understandably, there are a number of individuals claiming that they created the famous drink, with origin stories ranging from Paris in 1921 by Fernand Petiot – a spur of the moment drink, consisting of just tomato juice and vodka – to 1934 New York by comedian George Jessell. Now, the drink is seasoned and dressed up until savoury and spicy – with the kick being provided by anything from horseradish to Tabasco.
Feel free to replace vodka with gin if that’s your thing, but know that by doing so, you are technically transforming your Bloody Mary into a Red Snapper.
Makes: 1.25 litres (serves 4)
Takes: 5 minutes
Bakes: No time at all
1 litre tomato Juice
8 shakes Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco, to taste
A generous grinding of black pepper
Lots of ice.
1 head of celery, cut into long sticks and sprigs
1. Place the ice, tomato juice and vodka in a large pitcher.
2. Shake in the Worcestershire sauce – it should just cause the tomato juice to darken slightly. Add Tabasco and black pepper to taste. If you and your guests disagree on the level of spice, leave each individual to add their own Tabasco once the drink is poured.
3. Add a few sticks of celery to the jug, and stir vigorously.
4. Pour some celery salt onto a small saucer. Using a wedge of lemon, wet the top of four highball glasses, and then dip the rim of each in the celery salt.
5. Divide the Bloody Mary between the glasses, top up with fresh ice, and garnish with the remaining celery.