I’ve been avoiding this recipe for a few reasons. First of all, everyone has their own way of making a Bloody Mary and is sure to take issue with almost everyone else’s recipe. Secondly, I’ve honestly only recently settled on what I think makes for the perfect Bloody and, finally, it’s one of my favorite cocktails - so I wanted to make sure I didn’t screw it up.
As Spring seems to be beginning to take root here on the East Coast, however, I think now is the perfect time to take on the endeavor of this mythic and potent drink, cultural artifact and fabled hangover cure. Without further adieu, you’ll need:
2 oz (a little over 1 jigger) premium vodka (Ketel One does nicely)
1/2 cup good tomato juice
The juice of 1 whole lemon
A liberal dashing of Worcestershire Sauce
2 spoonfuls (at least) of premium Horseradish
Hot sauce to taste
Celery, cocktail olives, salt, pepper and lemon wedges to garnish
Before I suggest how to assemble this cacophony of ingredients, a word on some of my reasoning. First of all, most recipes would call for less vodka - but with such strong and possibly overwhelming flavors going on in the Bloody Mary, I think it’s important to make sure that vodka “bite” is still at least slightly noticeable. Secondly, some people will yell and scream that Tabasco just has to be in a Bloody and no other type of hot sauce. This just isn’t true and, in fact, I prefer some other more smoky hot sauces to Tabasco. Finally, in my mind, the horseradish is the golden ticket here. Use a lot of it. Add some, taste the concoction, and do not hesitate to add more if you feel like it. Make sure to use fresh horseradish, none of that horseradish sauce stuff.
OK - onto assembly. I find the easiest way to make a Bloody is sloshing all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker (including the olives, and maybe even a little bit of their brine), mixing together diligently with a large spoon until the horseradish has dissolved and the liquid takes on that familiar red, speckled aesthetic of the classic Bloody Mary. Pour into a high ball glass piled with ice and garnished with a large sprig of celery (be dramatic here - make it big and fancy) and a wedge of lemon.
This recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc. and whipped up into a large pitcher for serving as well (which sounds good to me). Remember - this drink should be tangy, salty, spicy, smoky, a little bitter and everything in between. Indulge, enjoy and don’t fret if a flavor seems off - just keep adding more until the cocktail seems balanced. Or pour on the vodka and hope people get too drunk to notice.
Yes, Dan Aykroyd does co-own this vodka but, honestly, if he had any part in the design process then I have a newfound respect for the man. Crystal Head has been around for awhile now and is definitely in that category of ultrapremium vodkas that depend a lot more on image than they do on quality. As I have stated before, I really don’t think there’s any difference between most vodkas besides being ultrapremium or economy, so next time you’re looking for a Belvedere or Grey Goose-level spirit, consider swinging towards Crystal Head.
As with most expensive vodkas, the product is excellent and - more importantly - the bottle is absolutely stunning. For those of us who are more inclined towards the maccabre, once the liquor has been drained, the glass skull makes an excellent vase, case for spices, olive oil, coins, etc. It’s a little crazy to have as much brand affinity as to request Crystal Head when out at a restaurant or bar, however, when entertaining at home or merely looking for a luxury vodka for one’s own bar - Crystal Head certainly has that “wow” factor. Skull motifs have been popular for a few years and can certainly border on the tackier side of branding, however, this is an example of an excellent case of design.