Build a Better Bloody Mary with Chefs Club's Anthony Bohlinger
It’s post-FOOD & WINE Classic recovery time (fave quote of the weekend, courtesy of Hugh Acheson, who was featured in our Summer 2014 issue: “Your money has so much power. Invest in the things that are meaningful. Buy from your local growers.”).
In the spirit of recuperating, let’s talk Bloody Mary’s. Although the origin of the alleged hangover-curing cocktail is a subject of debate, credit is usually given to Fernand Peitot, who is said to have invented it at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, in 1921. And while the theme of this post dedicated to FOOD & WINE revelry, it’s actually a myth that “hair of the dog” helps remedy the after-effects of too much of a good thing.
This helpful factoid I learned while attending Anthony Bohlinger’s “The Bloody Mary: Not Just for Brunch” seminar. Bohlinger is the Executive Beverage Director of Chefs Club Aspen and New York (featured in our Summer issue). He’s made a national name for himself, thanks to his creativity in reworking classic cocktails and utilizing housemade seasonal syrups, infusions, and bitters. Although he’s now based out of the New York flagship restaurant, Bohlinger returns regularly to Aspen to lead seminars at the Après Ski Cocktail Classic and participate in special events.
As a fairly recent convert to Bloody Mary’s (despite an addiction to ketchup, I loathe tomato juice, and not until I moved to the Roaring Fork Valley did I discover a version of the cocktail at Woody Creek Distillers that led to a change of heart), I was looking forward to Bohlinger’s seminar. He’s one of my favorite mixologists, and he and co-presenter Charlotte Voisey of William Grant & Sons USA didn’t disappoint.
Bohlinger started off by debunking the myth that consuming alcohol the morning after dissipates a hangover. “Alcohol is a diuretic,” he explained. “When you’re hungover, your brain tissue actually shrinks because your body is pulling water from your cells. That’s why headaches are the most common symptom. There’s no cure other than time.”
Ergo, anytime is the right time for a Bloody Mary. If you’re feeling guilty about that brain tissue shrinkage, look at it this way: Bloody Mary’s are loaded with antioxidant-rich lycopene and vitamins A and C. I believe this type of thinking is akin to ordering a Double Whopper with fries and a Diet Coke, but I digress.
More tips from Bohlinger and Voisey on building a better Bloody Mary:
- Keep your garnish simple– like a green olive or basil leaf. “No hamburgers, fried chicken, or pizza, please,” begs Bohlinger. “Keep it clean, not confusing.” It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.
- Olive brine adds viscosity to the cocktail.
- Use prepared horseradish, as the amount of heat in the fresh product varies.
- The most important components of a great Bloody Mary are tomato juice and vodka. For the former, Bohlinger only uses Sacramento brand, a low-sodium version with a clean, rich flavor. Lucky Roaring Fork Valley residents can purchase Woody Creek Distillers and the new Marble Distilling Company vodkas from the source.
- Whatever kind of cocktail you’re making, add the alcohol last, so you don’t waste the most expensive ingredient if you make a mistake.
- Never shake a Bloody Mary. “That incorporates air into it, and you wind up with frothy tomato juice,” says Bohlinger. Instead, “roll” it between two glasses or cocktail shakers.
- Use a julep strainer so the cocktail has some flavorful bits of horseradish and spices.
- Never use ice twice. When you prepare a cocktail by shaking, rolling, or muddling, the ice is diluted, so it’s important to serve it with fresh cubes.
- For his Bloody Maria- a spicier version of the classic made with tequila- Bohlinger “rinses” the serving glass with a half-ounce of mezcal (he likes Montelobos brand). “It adds a smokey, vegetal, earthy note, and gives dimension to the cocktail.”
P.S. Want someone else to make your cocktail for you? Marble Distilling Company just launched Bloody Mary Sundays, noon-6pm, including bagels baked by neighboring restaurant town, and a DIY garnish bar including smoked oysters, bacon, salami, and pickled veggies and peppers (no fried chicken, fyi).
Chefs Club Bloody Maria
This is an ideal cocktail for entertaining as you can infuse an entire bottle of tequila (12 servings) with one serrano chile, overnight. Strain before using. You can also prep the mix- minus the tequila- the day ahead, which will allow the flavors to develop.
Makes one cocktail
- 5 ounces Sacramento tomato juice
- 1/2 ounce Worchestershire
- 1 bar spoon horseradish
- 1/2 bar spoon La Boîte Bloody Maria Spice Mix
- 1/4 ounce olive brine
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- Dash Cholula Hot Sauce
- 2 ounces Patron Silver Tequila
- 1/2 ounce Montelobos mezcal, for rinse
- 1 sprig cilantro, for garnish