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.
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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.
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
Brandon and Molly met because of a mutual interest in food - or, more specifically, when Brandon read Molly's food blog Orangette and sent her an e-mail that included some very effective compliments. The better part of a decade later, they co-own and run the restaurant Delancey and its sibling Essex, in Seattle. Brandon is the chef of both, and when he's not manning the wood-burning oven, he likes to make things from scratch that more sane people would probably buy, like mustard, vinegars, pretzels, and obscurely flavored liqueurs. Molly is the manager / Organizer of All Things at Delancey and Essex, and she is also the author of the New York Times bestseller A Homemade Life and the forthcoming memoir Delancey. They have a young daughter named June, who is excitedly crawling toward the refrigerator as Molly types this sentence, and two dogs named Jack and Alice.