So it’s cold, raining, miserable, and Sunday. Which means it’s perfect for making stock (there’s four kilos of chicken parts getting happy in the pressure cooker as I type), braising meat (ditto the lamb shanks in the oven), and making bloody marys. I used to love these things when I lived in New York, where a free bloody comes with your eggs at any brunch place worth its celery salt. Here, not so much, even though as I (re)discovered upon stumbling into the Vineyard in St Kilda after a huge night out in Melbourne, they’re the perfect thing to set you back on an even keel.
What’s the secret to bloody perfection? I’ve watched barkeeps make these things around the world, and I can honestly say that the two best bloody marys can be found at the Yacht Club of Rio de Janeiro, and at Martin’s Tavern in Washington, DC. My recipe combines a bit of both.
First, the Rio bit: Years and years ago I went down with a bunch of mates to the wedding of one of our Brazilian friends. We had all gone to the same Jesuit-run high school in Manhattan, and it was popular with the Brazilian diplomatic corps. Anyway, the wedding was a blast, and the next day there was a recovery/after-party at the club, where the barman did something I thought was very clever: He built a base in each bloody consisting of lemon juice, celery salt, Lea & Perrins, Tabasco, and horseradish, and muddled it into a near-paste before adding vodka, then ice, and finally, the tomato juice. The end result was a far more balanced and textured drink.
Then, Washington, where I lived off-and-on from university until my transportation to Botany Bay on a trumped-up charge of sheep-stealing and freethinking. Martin’s is a great old Washington institution, all wood panels, history, and the best damn crab cakes you will find anywhere in the world. Ted Kennedy is alleged to have put away a waitress in the back dining room known, evocatively, as “The Dugout”. Although I never got quite so intimate with the staff was also a great haunt of mine, and Sunday afternoon would often see me any my cronies tucking into Eggs Benedict and drinking bloodies out of dimpled pint glasses, rimmed with fierce cayenne pepper.
Take these two techniques together – and make sure you cayenne the glass before you build the base! – you too can make a perfect bloody mary.
Do I even need to add “garnish with celery”?