The Bloody Mary is a drink for all seasons, but there can be something unpleasant about sipping thick, soup-like concoctions. If you’d like a easier-to-drink version of the savoury brunch cocktail, skip the mix entirely and make your own with freshly pureed tomatoes.
Photo: Claire Lower
Is this a tad more work than unscrewing a bottle of super-seasoned tomato juice? Yes, but it’s no more difficult than making a smoothie — anyone can make a smoothie — and the payoff is huge. My basic fresh Mary mix has only three ingredients (not including your spirit) and its lighter, savoury but not overly salty flavour makes it downright refreshing.
It’s also crazy customisable, but we will get to that in a minute. To make enough for two healthy servings, you will need:
- 1 1/2 medium tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 1 pickle half + 30mL brine
- The juice of 1/4 of a lemon
Chuck everything in a blender (you can also throw it in a large cup and use an immersion blender) and puree it into oblivion. Add 115mL to an ice-filled shaker (along with 45mL of vodka, gin, or tequila) and shake it until the shaker is too cold to hold. Strain it into an ice-filled glass through a fine mesh sieve — use a spoon to scrape the strainer as you pour so it doesn’t clog — and garnish to your heart’s content.
My heart didn’t want many garnishes today.Photo: Claire Lower
Rather than the usual umami-overload, the pickle juice provides just enough salt, tang and funk to complement the tomato’s natural sweetness, while the lemon brightens it up even further. Of course, you are welcome to put your own spin on it. Horseradish, hot sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, lemongrass, Worcestershire sauce and ginger are all great additions (though maybe not all at once).
Just add any mix-ins a teaspoon at a time, hit it with the blender again, give it a taste and adjust as needed.
If you need something even fresher, swap pickles for straight up cucumbers and make a little drink I’m fondly calling the “Jealous Mary.” I’ve found she gets along particularly well with fish sauce and ginger and have included my ratios for such a mixing below. To make this lean, green, booze machine, you will need:
- 1/2 medium cucumber
- 1/2 tomato
- The juice of half a lime
- 5 slices of pickled sushi ginger + 1 teaspoon of the jar juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce
Puree everything together as described above, then shake 115mL of the mix in an ice-filled shaker with an ounce and a half of liquor until the shaker becomes uncomfortably cold. Strain through fine mesh sieve into a glass and garnish as much or as little as your feel is appropriate.
Drain the glass and repeat as needed. (It’s basically green juice so repeating multiple times is acceptable, even responsible.)