How to make the perfect Bloody Mary



Among our favorite places to find a Bloody Mary is the make-your-own Bloody Mary bar at The Common Man in Windham.

Photo by Susan Laughlin

This classic drink is simple enough to prepare, but with its complex mix of ingredients it can be difficult to master. There needs to be a balance of sweet, salty, sour and savory.

Serve it as soon as it is prepared. Ice is important; it keeps the acids stable. If you use a mix, at least use fresh lemon and/or lime juice.

The "authentic" version as prepared in Harry's New York Bar in Paris in the ’20s goes like this: In shaker or directly in large tumbler: ice, 6 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, 3 dashes of Tabasco, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, juice of 1/2 a lemon, 2 ounces of vodka, fill remainder of glass with top-quality tomato juice, and above all no celery salt.

Purists add no horseradish either, and the pepper should be fine and not coarsely ground. This keeps the texture more silky. But the concoction invites variations and you can find recipes using gin or tequila, lime juice, Sambal Oelek hot sauce, horseradish, aged balsamic vinegar, pickle juice, olive brine, V8 juice, Clamato and beef jus.

What's right is a matter of taste. Quality will depend largely on your choice of tomato juice. The brand of vodka is a moot point for most people since any flavor is overwhelmed by the spices. Mixes are available, including the Common Man's mix and the Tabasco mix that is a classic blend. The key to a great drink though is freshness, so fresh-squeezed lemon and or lime are essential.

Classic garnish is a lemon wedge and celery stick, but chefs have been adding pickled vegetables, olives, cheese cubes and more.

Places to grab a great Bloody Mary (or make your own)

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