For much of my adult life I have considered beer to be my tipple of choice. In fact, I think it is safe to say that remains true today. It wasn’t until recently that I began to explore the art behind mixing up a cocktail. Sure, there was my early drinking years when I’d toss some concentrated margarita mix in a blender with some booze and knock out a concoction with little other purpose than to “get the job done.” But as I continue to grow older, I discover myself become more cognizant of the flavor nuances that craft mixology can offer. On occasion am not averse to a “slopped together” Bloody Mary. In some instances, like pre-boarding at the Denver International Airport after a liver-pounding weekend at the Great American Beer Festival, a ghettofabulous Bloody served at a terminal chain restaurant/pub can suit me just fine (and again back to my “get the job done” roots).
My taste in mixed drinks, much like that of mine of craft beer often gravitates toward both simplicity and dependability. That being said, I am not down with most bottom shelf vodkas of the plastic screw top bottle variety.
To those who view vodka as simply a “neutral spirit” or a drink for those who don’t like the taste of alcohol, I must disagree. If you have experienced some of the better artisan flavors such as Russia’s Zyr (made of both rye and wheat) or an assortment higher end infused genres of the spirit such as Pertsovka (peppery Vodka, made with both black peppercorns and red chili peppers), Starka (also referred to as “Old Vodka”, a legacy of the early ages of Vodka making, and is often infused with a slew of interesting flavor components like fruit tree leaves, brandy, Port, Malaga wine, or even dried fruit. Some brands are even aged in oak casks), and a personal favorite Zubrowka (a Polish variety flavored with bison grass, givng it an aromatic, mildly creamy tannic grass favored by the herds of the rare European beasts), you haven’t experienced some of the good stuff.
Vodka serves to nonchalantly impose its own subtle nuances to a given cocktail. Often times those heavy handed with citrus and sugary personalities don’t do the booze justice and simply mask its potential. This is why I really enjoy a proper Bloody. Heavy handed on the booze, the vaporous flavors can shine, and yes, I admit it, it will “get the job done.”
Using V8 or other similar commercial juices/juice blends is okay, but their high sodium content, while luring and often appeasing, can serve to overpower the richness of the juice and the quaint complexities of the vodka. This is why I opt for juicing your own tomatoes. Sounds complicated perhaps, but it’s really not.
2/3 to a pound of tomatoes will suffice for a few servings of tasty nectar. Add in about 1/3 cups of celery with the leaves and a small touch of onion and/or garlic if you like, and you’re half way home. A dash of black pepper (if no Pertsovka is involved), juice the whole kit, squeeze in a dash of lemon, and caboodle up and then we move on to the beer. (Note: I do not prefer Worcestershire sauce because I do not eat anchovies and I find the flavor of the sauce to impart too much unwanted sodium).
For Bloody Beerys I like to infuse a nice grassy mildly sweet Czech Pilsner to cut some of the body the tomato stands up while also inducing some crisp bready notes that only a proper lager can offer. Then comes the Vodka to save the day. (I like to use about 2/3 Vodka to beer, but you can find your own G spot.) Stir it up gently and garnish it with a lovely salad spear. This is a key component not only for a beautiful aesthetic addition, but it gives you a multifarious snack to enjoy along the way. Stuffed olives, sliced celery and carrot stocks,and pickled veggies of all varieties really seal the deal.
Whoop, there it is! A Bloody Beery. A simple, eloquent and nutritious treat worthy of any time in the a.m. or p.m. Job done. Cheers!