The Bloody Mary Gets a Makeover
by howard yoon
Old Ebbitt Grill’s Bloody Maryland: This Mary is quite contrary.
Mixologists have taken the art of the drink to another level by tweaking classic cocktail recipes into specialties that really sing. So how do DC’s best bartenders get creative with the Bloody Mary, the ubiquitous brunchtime drink that can be made in so many ways?
At the venerated Old Ebbitt Grill, it’s what is on the drink, not in it, that makes it special. The restaurant’s Bloody Maryland is rimmed with Old Bay seasoning and then topped with a jumbo shrimp. “We’ve been selling this drink steadily for the past 20 years,” says general manager Christian Guidi. According to Guidi, it’s as much a best seller during the restaurant’s weekly raw bar happy hour as it is on weekends.
For Katie Nelson, head bartender of the Columbia Room, the key to a uniquely delicious Bloody Mary is simple: freshly squeezed tomato juice. “Growing up in the South,” Nelson says, “we ate tomatoes during the hot months, when the fruit were fresh and ripe. The juice is slightly sweet and rather light in texture, resulting in a surprisingly delicate and lively drink.” Nelson remarks that brunch isn’t the only appropriate time for this drink. “Early evening is also a good time, as an aperitif to a light summer meal.”
Chantal Tseng, head mixologist at the Tabard Inn, believes in the “creativity by subtraction” approach. She starts with the basics: quality canned tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, lemon and lime juices, horseradish, and Tabasco. Then she adds two twists: Old Bay seasoning and Dijon mustard. “Old Bay is a tasty Maryland seasoning,” she explains, “so it contributes to the salt-savory quotient as well as to the sense of place. And the Dijon adds texture and flavor.”
Instead of the commonly used celery stalk, Tseng’s drink is topped with a lime wedge and a house-cured pickled green bean made with white vinegar, black peppercorns, dried chilies, garlic, yellow mustard seed, and tarragon.
The next time you’re craving brunch, nursing a hangover, or experiencing a hankering for a cocktail with some savory zing, we recommend you try one of these inventive creations.
Old Ebbitt Grill Bloody Maryland
Old Bay seasoning
1 1⁄2 ounces Absolute Peppar vodka
5 ounces tomato juice
1 ounce beef broth
1⁄2 ounce Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco sauce
Dash celery salt
Rim a pint glass with Old Bay and fill with ice. Combine all ingredients and stir with celery stalk.
Garnish with a lemon or lime and a jumbo shrimp.
photography by william brinson; styling by mariana velasquez
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