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Ellen’s Kitchen & Garden

The “perfect” Bloody Mary borne of careful research

Posted Saturday,
February 1, 2014
Like 6 · 2 ·
Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Two college students developed this simple recipe 35 years ago in Harrisonburg.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The Bloody Mary turned 80 in December.

Fernand Petiot, a popular bartender at the St. Regis Hotel in New York, transformed the Red Snapper, a drink he created in Paris. Mr. Petitot in 1933 invented the Bloody Mary by adding lemon juice, salt and Tabasco to the vodka and tomato juice mixture.

We enjoy the classic cocktail often, but especially with brunch. So, I asked Lou, the master of the Bloody Mary in my book, to share his recipe and the story of its creation.

I guarantee you’ll love it.

•   •   •

By Lawrence Emerson

Lifelong friend Chap Slye calls it a “sports drink.”

The Bloody Mary plays an important, traditional role in many of our weekend social gatherings — from spontaneous, informal get-togethers to the annual Gold Cup extravaganza, which can attract 60 friends and relatives to our backyard for the preliminaries. (They go through gallons on that first Saturday of May.)

Married to a great cook, I do little in the kitchen and typically limit my (rare) meal preparation to the grill.

But, when it comes to the all-important Bloody Mary, I have a reputation. The best cooks and drinkmesiters in our realm defer to yours truly.

It started in the spring of 1979. Delaware native Mike Zimmerman and I spent Sunday afternoons in Harrisonburg testing and refining recipes for the famous brunch cocktail.

On alternating Sundays, we set up our lab in his apartment at Squire Hill or in the old house I shared with Fred Betz and Glenn Lawson on Colicello Street near Wetzel’s Feed. We had a crew of taste testers.

I developed strong opinions about what constitutes the best Bloody Mary.

Soon, I figured out that Tabasco and other hot sauces, such as Texas Pete — found in many recipes — overwhelm and even fry the taste buds.

Horseradish provides “the heat” in a much more refined fashion.

Secondly, V-8 tastes more interesting and less acidic than the traditional tomato juice.

Mike, who tossed pizzas at Luiqi’s on South Main Street to earn a buck between classes, and I tried all sorts of concoctions.

I’ve forgotten all of them — except one, a very simple mixture.

After months of research, I shared the recipe with Gayle, my mother, who extrapolated to develop the proper portions for making Bloodies by the batch. So, it has become “an old family recipe,” as we like to say.

After college, Mike married and moved to Vero Beach. I haven’t seen him since our laboratory days.

But, in addition to a JMU sheepskin, I left Harrisonburg in May 1979 with a Bloody Mary recipe that has made people happy, helped make me some friends and endured without change for 35 years.

To you, my friends, may I offer this “gift” for Super Bowl weekend.

Lou’s Bloody Mary
By the glass

Strong dash of Worcestershire sauce
Weak dash of lemon juice
Healthy pinch of Old Bay Seasoning
Strong dab of horseradish
1-1/2 ounces of vodka
6 ounces of V-8 (original)
Garnish with celery stalk and olives or steamed shrimp on toothpick

By the batch
About 10 servings

2 ounces of Worcestershire sauce
1 ounce lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning
1-1/2 teaspoons (or more to taste and heat) of horseradish
1-1/3 cups of vodka
48 ounces of V-8 (original)

Of course, you can skip the vodka for a Virgin Mary. And, I encourage experimentation with the portions of Old Bay, horseradish, Worcestershire and lemon juice to suit your taste buds.
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Ye Old Bartender · February 5, 2014 at 11:49 am
Along with Lou's ingredients try: beef consume,white distilled vinegar, celery seed, Dijon mustard. From and ex-bartender grin
Rover 530 · February 4, 2014 at 10:48 pm
I enthusiastically endorse Lou's recipe. I usually leave out the Old Bay and horseradish and substitute fresh ground black pepper but this mix is wonderful. Try a shot glass full of beef bullion for a Bull Shot.
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