This classic bloody mary recipe was always bound to be my first cocktail on the blog. No other drink quite puts me in a summery state of mind. Or a Cajun one for that matter. I can almost hear the Zydeco music playing and smell the crawfish boiling while picking out splinters derived from a dilapidated old picnic table in the shade. Without a doubt, there is sublime and easy comfort in this humble cocktail.
When I was little, I often used to feign illness to get out of elementary school. No, it wasn’t because I didn’t like school. It was because I knew my grandmother would be the one to pick me up. And Gaga, as we called her, had a fully stocked pantry which I was given free rein to forage through. For food obsessed children such as myself, this was everything! And beyond the snack packs and apple sauces and fruit roll-ups, strangely enough, the cans of V8 tomato juice always managed to draw me in. As a true salty tooth, even in childhood, tomato juice did what sugary snacks couldn’t. They satisfied.
The Adult Version
Now as an adult, that tomato juice goodness usually comes around anytime we hang out with our friends Curt and Allison. Hailing from the great city of Chicago, these two are incredibly understated gourmands. Each social gathering that brings us together yields more and more impressive dishes, although the couple tries in vain to remain modest about their culinary skill.
Their bloody marys are, in particular, a showstopper. Bursting with spice and heat, and always topped with a jumbo cocktail shrimp, it’s my Cajun daydream on steroids. Add a second line parade, dancing policemen, and some Mardi Gras beads, and we’re approaching the next levelness that is their mary.
So, I have done my best to replicate Curt’s signature cocktail. This is a warm-weather favorite you’ll want to have on rotation.
Mixin’ the Fixin’s
For this classic bloody mary recipe, all the vital components are present and accounted for: tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, prepared horseradish, garlic salt, celery salt, lemon juice, and hot sauce. The highest-quality ingredients will obviously help, so do what you can!
If you’re like me and short on your “from scratch” time, you’re in luck because I’ve got some recommendations. I’ve tested a few brands of tomato juice and find that V8 Original is a bit less sugary and more flavorful than other storebought tomato juices. For the hot sauce, I’m partial to my home state’s signature Tabasco hot sauce (pretty sure Tabasco and Bloody Marys were made specifically for one another). And while some recipes do call for fresh horseradish that has been grated, I enjoy the pungency of prepared horseradish sauce just fine. Besides, fresh horseradish can sometimes be tricky to handle because of its heat and potency! If you do decide to grate horseradish root, be advised- you will not need nearly as much.
You can have a lot of fun with variations, however. Play around with salts, including onion salt. Sprinkle in some Old Bay seasoning to really grab that crawfish boil vibe. Or add some pickle juice for a briny punch. Want yours extra spicy? Keep adding Tabasco!
When you are happy with your mix, let it chill for a bit- literally. Refrigerating your Marys will help those flavors mingle, so the next time you go for a sip you’ll find pure bayou bliss.
Garnishing a Classic
Garnishes are your personal fingerprint on a drink. You can go any direction you want of course, but ones that pair exceptionally well with this Bloody Mary include celery stalks, lemon or lime wedges, pickles, and green olives.
Want to impress? Scrunch up some smoky bacon, or dangle a cocktail shrimp à la Curt and Allison. After all, a classic recipe is your best jumping off point.
For the cocktail
- 4 cups tomato juice
- 3/4 cup vodka
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- 2 teaspoons celery salt
- 2 lemons juiced
- hot sauce to taste
- celery stalks
- jumbo shrimp
- lemon wedges
- green olives pitted
- pico fruta seasoning
- In a large pitcher, mix all the cocktail ingredients together and stir with a long bar spoon.
- If possible, refrigerate for at least an hour prior to serving to allow flavors to marry.
- Serve over ice in Collins or highball glasses with optional garnishes.