This Memorial Day weekend, enjoy the weather, chill out, and relax a little. And if you’re feeling like entertaining a few friends around brunch time, offer to bring the budget-friendly, no-cook, special touch that requires only minimal clean up: the classic Bloody Mary. This drink can be as simple as an ounce of vodka, some tomato juice, and a dash of Tabasco, but it can be far more than that, too.
Choosing a Base
A classic Bloody Mary begins with vodka. There are lots of flavored vodkas in today’s market—don’t go for the fruity, gimmicky flavors, but the useful ones like lemon, lime, pepper, cucumber, celery, peppercorn, or even dill or fennel vodka. The daring amongst you can even infuse your own vodka for any flavor you can imagine. Vodka is traditional, but other baselines could include an herbal, aromatic gin, or a fruity tequila. But don’t spend money on top-shelf booze, since there’s no need. (Check this out for suggestions on how to stock your bar while making the most of your money.)
Your Liquid List
Time-honored tomato juice is an ideal match for this Sunday morning cocktail. Alternatives include low-sodium tomato juice, clam juice, and a personal favorite, V8.
Your Cocktail Canvas Awaits
Here’s where the options become limitless. Condiments like celery seed, horseradish, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and freshly-ground pepper are classic. Get “out-of-the-box” in your glass with additions such as Dijon mustard, pickle juice, jalapeño juice, chipotle powder, wasabi powder, smoked paprika, dill, or your favorite barbeque sauce for spicy twists.
Going Buffet Style
Garnishing a Bloody Mary can turn this cocktail into a meal. In addition to traditional celery, lemon, and lime, try cucumber, olives, pickles, pickled onions, roasted garlic, tom olives, capers, jalapeños, fennel, and even shrimp! (Basically, the jarred goods section is the limit.) If your budget allows, set up a make-your-own bar—for simplicity, pre-make a batch of Bloody Mary mix and allow guests to choose their base and garnish. If guests will be mixing on their own, I’d recommend having shakers by the bar. No matter the options, remember: The key to good cocktails is having lots of ice on hand.
House Choice: A “Killer” Bloody Mary
16 oz Vodka
46 oz V8 juice
1 tsp ground celery seed
1 tsp Worcestershire
¼ tsp Tabasco
¼ cup horseradish
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive juice
Juice of one lemon
Combine all ingredients, shake well, and serve.