I'm so very excited to offer this recipe for a New Orleans style Bloody Mary by James Gaffney. He shares a wonderful brief history on the Bloody Mary. If you love a good Bloody Mary like I do, make it--you're in for a delectable adventure.
Mr. Gaffney is an award-winning, internationally exhibited editorial and commercial photographer. He has authored four guidebooks, served as contributing writer for the guidebook “National Geographic Traveler New Orleans” (National Geographic Traveler), and wrote the 13-episode series “Quest for Adventure” for The Travel Channel. He is a former print and online staff writer and photographer at The Times-Picayune, New Orleans’ daily newspaper.
A Brief History of The Bloody Mary
When the Bloody Mary was created in Paris in the 1920s, it consisted of little more than a slap-dash mix of tomato juice and vodka. Over the years New Yorkers zapped the drink with lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and horseradish. But many food and drink historians credit the Big Easy for imbuing the Bloody Mary with a Cajun kick and Creole attitude thanks in part to the addition of Tabasco sauce (produced upriver at Avery Island, La.), and Southern-style pickled okra and snap beans just like mama used to make.
The New Orleans Style Bloody Mary
Today the key to crafting a truly world-class Bloody Mary is restraint. Lately, we’ve seen everything from soft-shell crabs to whole-baked chickens perched precariously like alien invaders over the formerly stylish cocktail glass. Don’t do this. Brunch belongs on your table -- not your glass. With the addition of so many dry seasonings and liquid garnishes like Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, salt is the last thing you need in your Bloody Mary unless the goal is to have guests’ blood pressure spike to dangerous levels. Also, flavor-wise, it’s just overkill.
Year-round this all-purpose crowd-pleaser can be found holding court in New Orleans at lengthy weekend brunches, Carnival and St. Patrick’s Day parades, festivals, and Super Bowl parties. Some hosts prefer making the drink by the pitcher to cut down on all the messy tinkering, but too often the seasonings sink to the bottom. Thus my personal preference for crafting each drink individually -- and, if you’ll excuse the snobbery, from scratch. If I blanch at the notion of store-bought, one-taste-fits-all Bloody Mary mixes, it’s because I just can’t taste the love. Maybe it’s a New Orleans thing. When we Southerners entertain family and friends, it’s all about the love – right down to the last drunken olive.
When in the Big Easy
A freewheeling, self-indulgent city like New Orleans might be expected to offer a few sassy twists on the perennially popular, eye-opening hangover cure and mid-morning intoxicant de jour known as the Bloody Mary. After all, the Big Easy is not only widely recognized for transforming brunch into a highly decadent art form, but also for inventing a slew of original cocktails ranging from the Sazarac in the 1830s to the Hurricane 110 years later.
Seasoning and garnishes for a Bloody Mary New Orleans style are a must.
Makes 1 cocktail
1-1/2 to 2 ounces vodka
1 tsp prepared horseradish
3 splashes Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes Crystal hot sauce
1/2 cup fresh vegetable or tomato juice
2-3 dashes Cajun Bait Seasoning garlic blend (instead of garlic salt)
Lime slices (not wedges)
Pickled snap beans
Pickled cocktail onions
Cream-cheese stuffed piquillo peppers (if available)
Blue cheese-stuffed olives
Place ice cubes in a tall glass or white-wine goblet until two-thirds full. (OPTIONAL: Some people wet and rim the glass with Creole seasoning but I do not because I want the aromatics and flavor to come from the cocktail itself.) In a shaker add vodka, vegetable/tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, hot sauce and Cajun Bait Seasoning garlic blend. (Optional: some people add 1 ounce of lime juice but I find it makes the cocktail too acidic.) Shake well. Let rest in the shaker. Pour the drink back into the glass and garnish with pickled snap beans, as well as a skewer containing pickled snap beans and cocktail onions, blue cheese-stuffed olives and cream cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers.