I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I worked at a cozy college bar called “The Library” for a couple of years. It’s a small bar with a large, shaded patio—the perfect place to go for good conversation and cheap drinks. While I was working there, I learned which beers I liked amongst our 32 taps and developed a taste for olives and bloody marys.
Even before I learned to love bloody marys, I noticed that I’d wake up after a boozy night with a vicious craving for something tomato-y. Most people crave fried foods when they’re hungover, but I’ve always wanted tomato soup, ketchup, marinara sauce or salsa in a bad way. I finally discovered that lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that accumulates in the liver, is found in its highest concentrations in cooked tomato products. I have a hunch that bloody marys are the most popular drink for hangovers because of the lycopene and other vitamins present in tomato juice. It’s like a mind/body compromise—temporary liquor-induced headache relief comes along with the vitamins and nutrients needed for true recovery.
That being said, a fresh bloody mary made with high quality ingredients is going to do you a lot more good than one made with a cheap mix. One day while bartending, I happened to glance at the nutrition facts on our bloody mary mix, which is called Zing Zang. I was bummed when I saw that my preferred mix contained junk like hydrolyzed soy, MSG and preservatives.
I’ve since tried making my own bloody marys at home, but V8 was too watery and fresh tomatoes weren’t flavorful enough to stand on their own. The most important ingredient, I’ve learned, is great tomato juice. I recently discovered the R.W. Knudsen brand of organic juice and fell head over heels for it.
I found this recipe while flipping through the August issue of Martha Steward Living. Instead of mixing tomato juice with ice, you blend it with frozen tomato. Genius, right?! The frozen tomatoes lend it a thicker viscosity, and there’s no ice to water it down. It’s absolutely worth the effort.
- 1 vine-ripened tomato, cut into wedges
- Scant ½ cup tomato juice (R.W. Knudsen’s is the very best)
- 2 ounces vodka (use jalapeño-infused vodka for an extra kick)
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (Annie’s makes a vegan one)
- ½ teaspoon horseradish (I actually used Annie’s horseradish mustard because prepared horseradish tends to include tons of gross ingredients. I’m not entirely convinced that horseradish is necessary)
- ½ teaspoon celery salt (visit your local gourmet store for the good stuff, or mix your own with half celery seeds and half salt)
- Hot sauce, to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon of Tobasco sauce)
- Freshly ground pepper (I go pretty heavy on the pepper)
- Cut the tomato into about 6 to 8 wedges and then halve each wedge across the middle. Freeze for at least four hours. Put your glasses in the freezer to chill, too.
- Purée all of the ingredients in a blender until it reaches a fine, slushy consistency.
- If you want to salt your rim, pour a little ground sea salt salt (and pepper and celery seed, in my case) onto a small, flat plate. Run a lime wedge around the rim of your glass, and dip the rim of your glass into the salt mixture. The drink is pretty salty so salting the rim is entirely optional.
- Pour the drink into your chilled glasses. I didn’t garnish mine (crazy, I know!), but I think a quartered cucumber, lime wedge and/or good green olive would pair nicely.
Don’t miss other fresh drinks in my summer cocktail series: beautiful red bell, strawberry smash, rainier cherry mojito, watermelon cucumber cooler and cucumber caipiranha, peach mojito, raspberry daiquiri and blueberry lavender [hard] lemonade.