The Bloody Mary Makeover

Colorful heirloom tomatoes shake up the classic big red cocktail.

With the growing dinner-table popularity of the often misshaped, multihued heirloom tomatoes, we were curious about what would happen if we substituted their yellow, orange, green and purplish juices for the traditional bright-red ones that flow into that iconic American cocktail—the Bloody Mary.

So we asked a few bartenders, mixologists, even flavor-conscious chefs how they would approach the challenge.

At least one—Peter Birmingham, who has been king of the bar at Rose Pistola in San Francisco and Norman’s in Los Angeles—has already shaken his swizzle stick at the idea.

“An heirloom needs to have a good juicy component,” he says, “and you need to achieve the proper sweet/acid balance.”  For example, a Cherokee Purple is on the sweet side, while a Yellow Pear is acidic, but the juices can be “corrected” with proper seasoning.

“The juice needs to be fresh,” says Phil Pyle of the Fair Hill in Maryland. “The tomatoes should be blanched, peeled, puréed and strained to get ‘free-run’ juice.”

Next comes the spicing. Using Green Zebra tomatoes, Nikki Farley of Harvey’s Seafood Grill in Wilmington, Deleware, would add cilantro and lime. With a yellow heirloom, Kate Applebaum, Farley’s colleague at sister restaurant Harry’s Savoy Grill, would employ a Spanish twist, using spicy paprika in the mix and glazing the rim with a golden tinge of sea salt and saffron.

For garnish, Applebaum would top her creation with a pickled green bean. Wayne Jones of The Palm in Nashville likes “a slice of red pepper to signify that it’s a Bloody Mary, whether the juice is green or yellow.” If the juice is a little acidy, Pyle would counter with a plump shrimp hanging on the rim.

Suggestions for vodkas (“vodka from rye is best,” says Birmingham) and vodka-substitutes are numerous—Tequila reposado for a Mexican turn, Irish poteen for a richer flavor or Yazi ginger vodka for an Asian accent.

The way we look at, pour it on—the more recipes, the Bloody Mary-er!

BLOODY MERRY
Recipe courtesy Phil Pyle, Fair Hill Inn, Maryland

Photo by Ella Moris

2 parts Green Zebra (or other green heirloom) tomato juice
Fresh basil leaves (4 muddled)
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
2 parts Yazi ginger vodka
Spice to taste

Stir ingredients with ice and garnish with red cherry tomatoes, such as Matt’s Wild Cherry.

MELLOW MARY
Recipe courtesy  Kate Applebaum, Harry’s Savoy Grill, Deleware

Photo by Ella Morris

2 parts Sobieski vodka
2 parts Lillian’s Yellow (or similar) tomato juice infused with saffron by cooking briefly
Spicy paprika to taste
Salt rim with sea salt and saffron ground together in a mortar

Stir ingredients with ice and garnish with pickled green bean.

MARIA MORADO
Recipe courtesy Peter Birmingham, mixologist-at-large, Los Angeles

1¾ ounces Siete Leguas Tequila reposado
2 teaspoons Worchester sauce
6 ounces Black Krim (or similar) tomato juice
½ ounces sweet & sour mix
To taste: Tabasco, Pickapepper, fresh horseradish, celery salt, black pepper

Shake ingredients with a blend of crushed and cubed ice. Garnish with slice of jicama, marinated in lime, with Cayenne edge.

Published on January 20, 2008
Topics: Bloody Mary, Cocktails, Recipes


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