By Amber Williams
When American Prohibition first ended, a French bartender introduced the bloody Mary to the U.S. Imagine Americans’ surprise. Bloody Mary? No two words drawn together could have been more taboo.
So America’s first vodka-tomato marriage was touted along the east coast with the slightly less implicating handle, “red snapper,” according to legend. Today, many people who forage for food to satisfy the stirring morning bowels have found that the bloody Mary is the drink required in the definition of “brunch.” How it’s made and how it’s served can be a make-or-break detail when deciding where to go to settle the queasy left-over curse of late-night carousing.
When mixed with the succulent, ripe, red juices of the tomato, brunch-goers are shamelessly granted permission to drink a shot of liquor in the morning. Not only is the cocktail condoned as a typical Saturday or Sunday morning starter, but the popular trend is celebrated by many restaurants in the form of the build-your-own bloody Mary bar — a brilliant line-up of garnishes, flavors, colors and textures. The traditional pickles, olives, lime and celery are often joined by carrot sticks, peas in a pod, asparagus, onions, mushrooms, hot peppers and even shrimp and bacon, to the point of graduating the bloody Mary from the drink menu to standing tall as its own morning appetizer.
And the devil’s delightful little detail crouches at the bloody Mary’s nectarous heart, the Sunday morning sin: Vodka. Beneath those zesty layers lurks a fair dose of liquor. Answering to the demand, vodka brands now have innovative new flavors to complement the cocktail, such as bacon, pepper and jalepeno, enhancing the vitamin-rich veggies soaking in a house-made or brand-name tomato juice mixer.
The tomato juice, spiked with hot pepper sauce, pickle juice and a moderate dash of steak sauce, combine to make a mixer that separates the apathetic bartender from the good-morning mixologists. RELISH