As seen in Monterey County The HeraldPosted: 06/01/2011 02:03:34 AM PDT Updated: 06/06/2011 12:03:29 PM PDT
Todd Fisher: A Bloody Good Holiday
I’ve said it before and I stand by it: Vacation does not start for me until that first Bloody Mary is in hand. A recent quick trip away proved, yet again, that I am truly a creature of habit. Even with a bottle of bubbly, a massage and an anniversary dinner behind me, the decompression did not really begin until I found myself with a delicious, nutritious tomato cocktail in hand.
Now, I have a great Bloody Mary recipe, which I will share within the context here. However, I am always on the hunt for a good Bloody, and, like a great sandwich, they are always better when someone else makes them.
Normally, like a well-trained bloodhound, I have the snout down and my big floppy ears wafting the scent of my hunt up into my nostrils. On this not particular Monday morning, however, as we walked around the sleepy-eyed town of San Luis Obispo looking for a recommended “hot spot,” it was my beautiful bride whose eyes caught a simple black sign with a neon sheep on it. She nonchalantly said, “follow me.” Yet another reason I love her.
As we walked through the threshold of this old, drab pub, you could sense that this place had energy pulsing though the grain of the dark, oak-lined walls. With one thing now on the mind, we bellied up to the bar for a vacation “kick start.” With a mildly edgy dame behind the bar, I ordered, excused myself, and headed off to the little boys room to freshen up. As I walked away, I heard my beautiful bride warn the woman that I was a little particular about my chosen beverage, to which she replied, “me too!” As I returned, fresh as a daisy, I was greeted by my wide-eyed lover with a smile from ear to ear and a wink. I vaguely remember the words “oh, your gonna love this!”
Now here is where I need to break and quantify my definition of a good Bloody Mary. The Bloody Mary was created by Pete Petiot, a bartender at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. In 1933, “Pistol Pete” brought the drink to the states when he became the head bar man at the St. Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar. Pierre said he named it after Mary Tudor, the Queen of England, for her bloody persecution of Protestants.
Traditionally made with tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, celery salt and pepper, a traditional version can often be wonderful when executed to perfection. Now, for me, a Bloody Mary has to have a kick, something that makes your eyes widen and your sinuses loosen up. It needs to say GOOD MORNING! Thickness is critical. Sweet yet acidic tomato juice blended with good vodka should wash over your tongue and coat the palate for a moment, leaving behind the peppery warmth of the horseradish and Tabasco. Welcomed shrapnel should float throughout the experience, leaving particles of flavor enhancers stuck between teeth and scratching away at the esophagus on its way down.
Of course, there should be the bounty of a virtual salad bar adorning the creation; pickled this and that, olives, celery, peppers. This is left to the
creator to compose, but be certain it is a very critical component and should be given thought and consideration.
In an age where everything is new again, it only makes sense that mixologists across the globe are remixing this classic. That said, I do often grade well for originality, but the overall grade will always rest in the flavor profile. My beautiful bride makes a spectacular Bloody Mary. With 17 years to perfect it, it is delicious and the standard by which I grade all others. She starts with a half an onion and a stalk of celery chopped in a blender, to which she adds horseradish, celery salt and kosher salt, lemon juice, Sriracha, pickled jalapeño juice, tomato juice and Worcestershire sauce. The vodka is added last. Once mixed together and poured over ice, its garnished with a pickled green bean (mine with a pickled jalapeño) and a celery stalk.
Of course, her recipe makes two drinks. Oh, and she is reminding me that you have to be aggressive with the salt. Back to the Black Sheep and the dame, and, oh, yeah, did I love it! Nicole makes a fantastic Bloody Mary, and here is her recipe to the best of my recollection.
It started with a shot each of red wine and Guinness in the bottom of a pint glass. Add a touch of Sriracha, or three if you like it hot, several shakes of pepper and, I am guessing, celery salt, a squeeze of a lime, a healthy teaspoon of horseradish and a splash of soy and Worcestershire sauce.
Fill the glass with ice, add two jiggers of vodka and a quarter cup of Bloody Mary mix to top it off. Shaken not stirred, poured out and dressed up with an olive, sweet gherkin, pickled green bean and small wax pepper.
The first one went down like a penny flipped into a wishing well. No. 2 went a little slower, with the lovely Nicole offering up a rocks glass of Firestone Double Barrel Ale to nip at between gulps of my Bloody. This is a keeper little dealio for future dates. The beer acts a sort of palate cleanser, so each sip of your Bloody Mary is as exciting and flavorful as the first.
Come to think of it, we never did make it to that “hot spot,” but it sure was a bloody good holiday. With the warmer weather coming — well, at least we believe it is coming — I recommend brunching with friends and family. It is an easier, more relaxing way to entertain. Set out a few cold cuts, a fruit platter, maybe cook up a quiche or poach some eggs and definitely shake up some bloody good times!
I can’t wrap this one up without sharing my recipe for a killer Bloody Mary. However, assuming I have only one recipe for this classic cocktail would be like assuming I only make one version of risotto. I use what I’ve got and some are better than others. But here is one of my favorites:
Chef Todd’s Bloody Mary
2 T. veal demi-glace (see note)
6 dashes Tabasco
2 cloves pickled
garlic (squished through a garlic press)
2 tsp. Beaver Atomic Horseradish
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. soy sauce
¼ tsp. “what’s-this-here”
Juice of half a lime
½ tsp. celery salt
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup tomato juice
2 jiggers of vodka
Steps: Shake hard with a glass full of ice and serve in a pint glass rimmed with maldon salt and garnished with a garlic stuffed olive, pepperocini, pickled onion and a kosher pickle spear.
Note: Substitute beef stock or a mixture of a beef bouillon cube dissolved in water.
Oh, and Mark, I know you asked for a Bloody Mary recipe some months ago … all good things are worth the wait! Cheers!