I always associate Bloody Marys with New Year’s Day. Like lemon squares, toffee, smoked almonds, incredibly stressful preparations and eggnog, they were an indispensable part of the menu for my mother’s annual New Year’s Day open house.
I also associate them with Buddy’s, a defunct Chicago gay bar, that leavened many a brunch-time hangover with the ridiculousness of the garnishes crowding its Bloodies – boiled potatoes, pepperocini, cross-sections of sausage, big ol’ leafy stalks of celery.
But I wasn't taking three of my college friends, two husbands and seven children to a defunct gay bar, now was I? Not that it would have been any less logical than hosting a crew of that size / age for a New Year’s Day brunch in my 800-square-foot apartment… Fortunately, Gary and Amanda don’t drink, which left more for the rest of us, especially me and Greg, who managed to stretch that pitcher well into the night.
This is my mother’s recipe, tailored to fit the idiosyncrasies of my panty.I mean pantry. What is wasabi, after all, if not green, Japanese horseradish paste?
(They’re the girls I love, boom, boom, boom, boom)
See? They’re so easy, I can sing show tunes while I mix them up! Perhaps I’d do well to try something a little more challenging…
Get out your pitcher!
Dump in one 46-ounce can of tomato juice!
2 teaspoons of wasabi
4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (now there's a word to f you up in the final rounds of the Nat'l Spelling Bee...)
2 teaspoons of hot sauce
1 teaspoon of sea salt
3/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
and the juice of 3 limes.
Recovered alcoholics and nursing mothers can hang it up right here, but those with a taste for vodka (and adventure!) should keep going.
Now here’s a little trick I picked up recently, over dinner with Sam and Nelle, the cultured palates behind Lunch for Two, a project that strikes me as way too classy for this gutter tip! I don’t know if either of them has actually tried it, but you bet it made my to-do-immediately list. First day of the new year, there I was, pouring cheap vodka into my Brita pitcher, eager to see if it would make it taste all expensive.
And you know? I think it did. I don’t know if it’s because I was so desperate to believe, or what, but I did a little before and after taste test and after seemed much less harsh (possibly because the second sip just naturally goes down smoother at 10am…). Anyhoo, I’ll do it again, especially if some bartender friend is willing to slip me an empty Grey Goose bottle into which I might decant my homemade shine. It’s good to know I can always fall back on bootlegging if this writing thing doesn’t work out.
(Hint: don’t forget to rinse the Brita pitcher and run a couple of quarts of water through the filter after you’ve worked your magic, unless you want the kiddies getting an unexpected bang from their Kool-Aid.)
Back to the Bloody Marys (boom, boom, boom, boom), a couple of minutes before you’re ready to serve them, empty the ice cube trays and as much “Grey Goose” as you see fit into the pitcher, stir ‘em up with a handy, long-armed implement, and don’t pull a Buddy when it comes to the garnish.
In other news, issue 33 of my zine, The East Village Inky is back from the printers and ready to take its rightful place on the back of your toilet tank. Why not subscribe? You'll be glad you did, especially if your bra's been giving you trouble of late.