Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spicy Tomato Juice and a Great Bloody Mary

Spicy Tomato Juice and a Great Bloody Mary

By Nancy Brabbit-Davis
I’ve got a real problem with people who drink alcohol and then go hunting or shooting. It’s stupid, an invitation to disaster, and I don’t do it, or tolerate anyone around me who does. Alcohol and firearms do not mix, period.
The skewers are obviousely upside-down, but are arranged here to show
the range of possible garnishes. From left: pickled mushrooms,
pickled pearl onions, shrimp, garlic stuffed olives, dill pickles, peperoncini
peppers, pickled okra, and pickled garlic. Photo by Jeff Davis.

However, I understand how many people enjoy a drink after the guns have been cased, or other times when it’s appropriate. I like bloody Marys, but ordering a bloody Mary is like ordering chili, you never know what you are going to get.
Years ago a friend wrangled the secret recipe for the best bloody Mary mix I’ve ever found from a restaurant where she worked. It took a lot of work to convert the formula for making 64 gallons of the stuff to a quantity suitable for a small group.  At the risk of dating myself – this was before calculators.
My Dad and I painstakingly cut the mix down from 64 gallons to 32, to 16, to 8, to 4, and finally 2 gallons – an amount that we felt was a reasonable batch.  It has been modified and improved over the years.  We get the base ingredients in plastic jugs, mix it up and then just put it back in the original containers for dispensing.
Properly refrigerated it will easily keep for a week or more, and with us most of it is consumed without any alcohol, just as a spicy drink anytime.
If you’re serving friends or family, use your imagination with the garnish. The standard celery stalk or kosher pickle spear are fine, but you’ll get a lot of smiles when your guests see their drink with garlic or blue cheese stuffed olives, pickled onions, asparagus, green beans or okra, or my favorite, a skewer of cooked shrimp or crawdad tails. We’ve recently discovered that a strip of beef jerky, a slim sausage stick, or skinny string cheese also make great garnishes.
There are a huge number of variations, so try it out, make some adjustments, and come up with your own favorite mix.
Northwoods Bloody Mary Mix

1 bottle (32-ounce)  Clamato Tomato Cocktail Juice
1 bottle (64-ounce) Tomato juice
1 cup                      Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons         Celery salt
2 tablespoons         Black pepper
1/2 cup                   Lemon juice
1/2 cup                   Horseradish
Mix ingredients in a large pot, and adjust to taste. Start with a smaller amount of horseradish, mix well and then taste it. Add more horseradish as needed, but remember that many people don’t appreciate a screaming hot drink. You can always add more to an individual glass, or even the whole bottle. The taste will mix and become more complex the longer it is stored. It is easy to mix a day ahead of when you will need it, and it does taste better the second day.

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