You'll no longer have to buy a plane ticket to get in on the cocktails at Seattle's Essex: Owners Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg (a.k.a. Orangette) will be sharing their favorite recipes with us, every other week. Drink up, people.
Today: What do you do when you want a Bloody Mary but it's no longer time for brunch? You make this.
At this point in September, the days of fresh tomatoes are numbered, so we’re going to cut right to the chase: you should make this cocktail tonight. And have a tomato-and-mayonnaise sandwich for dinner.
There was winter squash at the market last weekend -- though even the farmers admitted they weren’t yet ready to eat it -- but as long as there are still tomatoes, we’ll have the Queen Mary, our late-summer favorite, on the menu at Essex. Dreamed up by our opening bar manager, Gary Abts, the Queen Mary is a nighttime tweak on a Bloody Mary.
It starts with three fresh cherry tomatoes -- or a slice cut from a good beefsteak, or a similar amount of any good tomato -- which get muddled briefly in the bottom of a shaker, just long enough to release their juices. (If you don’t have a muddler, you can use a wooden spoon; that’s what we do at home.) To the tomato, we add either gin or vodka, the drinker’s choice, plus a good splash of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and a little bit of brine from our house-pickled hot peppers. If you have dill pickles in the fridge, you can use their brine instead, plus a dash or two of hot sauce. Just as good, and easy.
Strained into a glass with a salt-and-pepper rim, the Queen Mary is a peachy shade of red, roughly the same color the leaves will be in a few weeks. (Sob!) It’s fruity with tomato water and bright with lemon and brine, with a low, creeping heat that leaves your mouth warm. It feels solidly like summer, and also somehow like fall. If you make nothing else with tomatoes before summer is gone, this is a very fine way to send it off.
Adapted from Gary Abts
For the glass:
Half a lemon
For the drink:
3 cherry tomatoes, or one thick slice of a beefsteak tomato
1 1/2 ounces gin or vodka
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce dill pickle brine
1 to 2 dashes Tapatio, or another similar hot sauce
A pinch of salt
Photos by Molly Wizenberg