I’ve never understood the name for the cocktail called a ‘Bloody Mary.’ Some say its origin is about a spirit conjured to reveal the future by calling her name in a mirror three times, others say it’s about the legend of Mary Tudor who had hundreds of Protestants murdered in the name of Catholicism. There’s even a story about the drink first being called a ‘Red Snapper’ before it was changed to what we call it today. Regardless, it’s one of my favorite cocktails.
When it comes to the flavor of a traditional Bloody Mary, however, any true foodie would agree that vodka and tomato juice tend to be pretty flavorless ingredients, so they need a big flavor boost to make them tasty. What’s my favorite version? I add an elevated zing using my favorite trio of charred veggies, spicy peppers, and habanero-infused vodka.
For the Vodka:
1 bottle (750ml) of your favorite unflavored vodka
2 habanero peppers
For the Mix:
8 cups tomato juice
4 carrots, peeled
4 plum tomatoes cut in half lengthwise
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 white onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced in half lengthwise
1 poblano pepper, seeded and sliced in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
Juice from one lime
Spicy pickled green beans
1) Pour the vodka into a clean quart jar. Slice the habanero peppers into 1/4 inch rings and add them to the vodka. Seal the bottle and steep the peppers for 2-3 days, testing the intensity of the vodka on day two. Steep the vodka an additional day for a higher heat level.
2) Position a rack in the middle of an oven and set the temperature to broil.
3) Arrange the carrots, garlic, onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, and poblano on a foil-lined baking sheet and place the pan in the oven. Broil the vegetables for 10 to 15 minutes, turning them occasionally until charred on all sides.
4) Remove the pan from the oven and allow the vegetables to cool.
5) Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and puree until smooth.
6) In a large pitcher add the pureed vegetables with the tomato juice and stir the mixture, so everything is thoroughly combined.
7) Strain the mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer and discard any solids.
8) Add the lime juice to the liquid and season with salt or pepper to taste.
9) To serve, moisten the rim of a glass with lime juice and coat the rim with the combined spices of salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and hot paprika. Next, add some ice to the glass, followed by two ounces of the flavored vodka. Fill the glass the rest of the way with the vegetable liquid, and garnish the glass with green olives, pickle spears, spicy pickled green beans, celery stalk or sliced jalapeno.