Let’s Talk Food: What makes a good Bloody Mary?

Every once in a while, especially when on vacation, I like a good Bloody Mary or sometimes a virgin one. Unfortunately, it is oftentimes at an airport restaurant, and most of the time is not the best. But I enjoy eating the celery stick and green olives, along with drinking my vegetables.

But what makes a good one?


Should it taste like a salad in a glass?

Is making your own Bloody Mary mix better than buying a ready made one?

According to the manager of the elegant Bull and Bear in New York’s Waldorf Astoria, Christophe Orlarei, the secret to a good Bloody Mary is in the balance. He says it needs to be “simple yet complex, commonplace yet special and familiar yet exotic.” His secret ingredients are the addition of dry Sherry and a dry red wine for color and texture.

Celery sticks and olives are traditional condiments, but one can get creative. The outrageous ones from Crystal Lake BBQ in Chicago, which makes these special Bloody Marys on Sundays only, are topped with skewers of doughnuts, ribs, hot dogs, lobster, sliders, half a chicken, a Slim Jim, smoked sausage, chicken wings, pork chops and apple fritters. The Mega Mary weighs more than 20 pounds!

The Breakfast Bloody Mary from The Crazy Fox Saloon in Newport, Ky., has mini pancakes, a breakfast wrap, strawberry, a cinnamon roll and a mini muffin, celery, pineapple and a kale leaf.

The Asian-Fusian Bloody Mary from Sunda in Chicago is garnished with grilled cheese with sweet marinated pork, adobo-braised pork belly, roasted duck bao bun, baked crab hand roll sushi, choi sum, bacon, lumpia, herb-roasted potatoes, roasted shishito peppers and a slice of takuan. This sounds like a Bloody Mary that would work in Hawaii!

The Extreme Bloody Mary in Sobelman’s Pub-n-Grill in Milwaukee is topped with a 3-pound whole fried chicken, shrimp, lemon wedges and grape tomatoes, pickled Polish sausage and Colby Jack cheese, pickled Brussels sprouts and mushrooms, olives and pickles, pickled asparagus, bacon-wrapped jalapeno cheese balls and cheeseburger sliders and celery sticks.

The Ultimate Seafood Bloody Mary from The Fish Hopper in Kona uses Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka, Breckenridge Chili Chili Vodka, garnished with bacon wrapped prawn, a dungeness crab lemon cup, pickled green beans and pepperoncini, fresh oyster, a crab cake slider, crab stuffed olives, hot pepper and a slice of lemon for $25.

Here is a recipe for a Bloody Mary mix:

Bloody Mary Mix

1 (48-ounce) can of tomato juice, 6 cups

3 tablespoons prepared creamy hot horseradish

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 1/4 teaspoons celery salt

3 teaspoons garlic salt

Tabasco sauce

Freshly ground black pepper

Pickle-infused vodka or regular vodka, if you prefer

Assembling the drinks:

1 tablespoon celery salt

1 tablespoons kosher salt

Mix the tomato juice, horseradish, worcestershire sauce, celery salt, garlic salt and black pepper in a large pitcher. Season with 10-15 shakes of Tabasco sauce, or to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble drinks: Mix the celery salt and kosher salt on a small plate. Dip the rim of your glass in a shallow amount of water, then dip into the salt mix and twist. Fill an 8-ounce glass to the top with ice. Add 2 ounces of pickle-infused vodka with bloody mary tomato mixture.

Garnish with limes, lemons, celery ribs, blue cheese stuffed olives, bacon strips, cooked shrimp, hot sauce, pickles or pickled asparagus.

• • •

The favorite Blody Mary recipe of Al Martinex, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Los Angeles Times, is:

“Begin by turning on music best suited for the occasion of a near-death hangover. A dirge is always nice. Then in a cocktail shaker, place 4 ounces of tomato juice, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 dash of lemon juice, 2 drops of Tabasco, 1 dash of pepper (to taste), 1 dash of salt (to taste), 1 1/2 ounces Grey Goose vodka, 2 dashes of celery salt and, for those who like a kick in the head, a smidgen of horseradish. Shake and pour into a tall glass filled one-third with ice, garnish with green olives and upsy-daisy.

If that doesn’t work, light three candles, take a cold shower, drink hot coffee, lie flat and moan. And next time, try to behave.”

Fernand “Pete” Petiot is claimed to have invented the first Bloody Mary, and it is said it was a favorite morning after drink, the hangover remedy or a great brunch drink, at the St. Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar in New York in the 1930s. The basic recipe consisted of vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper.

Legend has it that it was named after Queen Mary Tudor, or Bloody Mary, the Catholic daughter of Henry VIII, who, during her five-year reign, killed more than 300 Protestants (I am almost done reading “Column of Fire” by Ken Follett, and the book is in this time period). But another story tells of a London visitor going to Harry’s Bar in Chicago and complaining about his wife, Mary, as a bloody nag and bloody impossible.

Foodie bites


Hawaii Community College’s Culinary Arts Cafeteria is open 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Tuesday till Friday. Call 934-2559 for takeout orders. There are usually four entrees to select from and a soup of the day.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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