Salt, Time, Smoke

The Perfect Bloody Mary

You wake up late, your eyes are blurry and your head feels like you spent the evening prior at Rammstein concert. Getting up your stomach turns in protest. Hazy memories rush in. You recall tequila shots at 2:00am sounding like a good idea at the time.

You’re in misery and you want relief. This is why we have the Bloody Mary. Is it because tomato juice is packed with vitamins and nutrients? I guess…. but it doesn’t cure your hangover. It only delays it. So it’s like a snooze button for your hangover! Why face now what we can put off ’til later? As we all know the only true cure for a hangover is a complete brunch at the Slagles’.

Anyone who has had cocktails in my home knows I take them very seriously. If prepared with a little extra care your cocktails will reward you with outstanding results. I am often asked if you need to use an expensive spirit to make a good cocktail. The answer is no, but you do have to use a high quality spirit. Use cheap distillates and you should expect more of the above scenario. For Bloody Marys I like to use a good vodka that has some body and character. My two top choices are Stoli and Russian Standard.

As always, I encourage you to take this recipe as a guide and make it your own. Put away the measuring cups and tweak it to your liking.

Jeremy’s Bloody Mary

1 3/4 oz good vodka

3 oz tomato juice

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp prepared horseradish

juice of 1/4 lemon

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp celery salt

salt and fresh cracked black pepper

several dashes Tabasco

for the garnish

sea salt

Korean chili powder

1/2 cornichon

1 green olive

1 pickled pepper

lemon wedge

Prepare your glass by rubbing a lemon around the rim and rolling the rim of the glass in a mixture of sea salt and chili powder. Mix all of the ingredients for the cocktail and mix well with a bar spoon. Crack a little extra black pepper to float on top. Add lots of ice and stir again to chill. Garnish witha lemon wedge and a skewer of cornichon, pepper and olive.

Easy Bitters Recipe

Bitters is an essential tool in creating balanced and aromatic cocktails. It consists of a high proof base spirit that is aromatized with a number of aromatics. Originally, like many liqueurs, apéritifs and vermouths, it was created for medical purposes. I can personally attest to the stomach soothing properties of bitters and soda when hungover. Never should you use more than a dash in any cocktail or drink as it is quite strong and will quickly overwhelm it. In my last post I talked about the whiskey sour at the Blind Pig where they use Angostura Bitters.

There are two major brands available commercially, Angostura and Peychaud’s, though these are difficult to find in the Philippines. Angostura is made in Trinidad and Peychaud’s is made in New Orleans. I find Angostura to be a bit dark and stronger whereas Peychaud’s is a little lighter and more floral.

As the name would imply bitters is, well, bitter. This bitterness typically derives from wormwood (also used to make absinthe) and gentian. Gentian is a flower native to Europe as well as Africa and the Americas. However if you’re like me you don’t have these things in the pantry so let’s just wing it.

You can use any kind of botanical you want. Citrus works especially well, also any baking spices, dried edible flowers, any dried fruits and herbs. I had some hibiscus (gumamela) that I purchased from Down to Earth in the Salcedo Market. To use this, lay the flowers out, preferably on a wire rack over a sheet pan and let them dry out completely. For a spirit base I used mostly dark rum to give it flavor, depth and color and strengthened that with a high proof vodka.

As is usually the case with my recipes these are approximate measurements. So don’t waste too much time trying to get it exact and take it as san opportunity to experiment on your own.

Jeremy’s Hibiscus Bitters

6 oz. dark rum

2 oz. high proof vodka

1 pack of hibiscus flowers, dried (about 25-30 flowers)

peel of one lemon

one knob of ginger, peeled and sliced

several pieces of cinnamon bark

1 teaspoon whole cloves

2 pods star anise

Combine all of these ingredients in a liquor bottle and shake to incorporate. Store at room temperature and continue to shake it every day. I like to allow mine to infuse for about three weeks. However you can always remove or add ingredients to adjust the flavor and aroma. When you’re happy with the flavor and aroma, strain out the solids. Then line the strainer with a coffee filter and strain again to get a nice clear bitters. We’ll come back to this one in a few weeks.