Better Than A Bloody Mary: The Queen Mary

September 19, 2013

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.

Shop the Story

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.

Queen Mary
Adapted from Gary Abts

For the glass:

Kosher salt
Black pepper
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

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Molly Wizenberg 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • wssmom
  • mcs3000
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
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.


wssmom September 20, 2013
mcs3000 September 20, 2013
Kenzi W. September 20, 2013
Mhm, yep. Me too please.