One of the traditions my husband and I started early on in our relationship is to kick off holiday mornings with a simple brunch of “bagels and bloodies.” We set up a spread of bagels, cream cheese, and smoked or cured fish with all the fixins, and pour ourselves a round of Bloody Marys to prime our livers for the revelry ahead. The fun thing about this tradition is that it’s easy to scale up the spread for company, and it’s a casual but festive way to entertain. My Bloody Mary was inspired in part by the ones served at The Noho Star in Manhattan – I always loved their addition of balsamic vinegar to the drink, and the way it rounds out the acidity of the other ingredients. I can’t stand when I order a Bloody Mary at a restaurant and get a thin, watery drink, so I use a bottled tomato passata instead of juice. Finally, as far as hot sauce goes, my favorite is a brand called Evil Hot, made by our good friend Ed Mathews. It’s thick and spoonable, with a clean, pure heat and without a strong vinegary taste. - lastnightsdinner —lastnightsdinner
Test Kitchen Notes
The perfect companion to a bagel spread -- or any brunch, really -- lastnightsdinner's well-written Bloody Mary formula adds a few thoughtful tweaks that make it stand out. Pulpy tomato passata makes each glass substantive without laying it on too thick, muddled celery leaves and garlic waft through, and balsamic sweetens and deepens the flavor (don't use any pricey, 50-year-old stuff -- but something high quality is a good idea). - kristen miglore —Kristen Miglore
about 40 oz.
A Pitcher of Bloodies
clove garlic, peeled and gently crushed
Coarse sea salt
tomato passata, or best quality tomato juice
freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly squeezed lime juice
hot sauce, or to taste
freshly grated horseradish, or best quality prepared horseradish
Add the celery leaves, garlic, and a pinch of salt to a large measuring cup. Muddle gently, then add the vodka. Continue muddling until the celery leaves release their aroma. Strain, discarding the solids.
Pour the passata (or juice, if using) into a pitcher. Pour the infused vodka into the empty bottle, shaking to loosen any passata that is clinging to the inside, then pour it into the pitcher. Add the lemon and lime juices, the balsamic vinegar, the hot sauce, and the horseradish. Stir well, and add another pinch of salt and plenty of fresh black pepper, stirring again to incorporate.
Chill for at least 30 minutes, and serve over ice with your favorite garnish(es).
The Garnish Bar
I like to give my fellow revelers options, so I set out a variety of garnishes: lemon and lime wedges, fat green olives, tart cornichons, celery stalks, pickled green tomatoes, pickled green beans, cocktail onions, pickled green chile peppers, plus additional hot sauce for those who like a little extra kick in their drink.