Tomato juice isn’t a drink we pay much attention to. It’s not something we buy regularly, except for the rare occasion we fancy a Bloody Mary, so we have no idea if the tomato juice market is in the midst of a reinvention like most of the drinks sector seems to be these days.
If it is about to go through a revolutionary phase then perhaps smoked tomato juice could be the thing that squeezes it into action. A few weeks ago we were sent a sample of Peat Smoked Tomato Juice, delivered by a Scottish business called Tongue in Peat, and it instantly seemed like such a good idea that we wondered why we’ve not encountered something similar before.
To do the juice justice we set about making the best Bloody Mary we could conjure. And here it is, your guide to the perfect Bloody Mary*…
How to make the perfect Bloody Mary
The Bloody Mary is one of those cocktails that doesn’t have a definitive recipe. Tomato juice, vodka, salt, lemon and some sort of savoury and spicy sauces are all key ingredients, but exactly how you make it is up to you. For us, the ingredients are as follows…
• Approx 100ml tomato juice
• Approx 50ml vodka
• 4 to 6 dashes Tabasco sauce
• 3 to 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
• Juice of half a lemon (15ml)
• A pinch of salt
• A stick of celery
• Ice to serve
For a top notch Bloody Mary you need top notch tomato juice. Tongue in Peat’s is produced in small batches and infused by Islay’s finest peat, which imparts smoky, salty flavours into the sweet and sharp fleshy fruits, along with a spiky hit of heat. It’s a delicious thing and adds extra depth to the cocktail.
Again, a good quality, clean tasting vodka will give you a better Bloody Mary. Seeing as our tomato juice is Scottish we’ve gone for a Scottish vodka – Holy Grass. It’s a deliciously smooth vodka with a grassy freshness and hint of pepper that perfectly suits our recipe.
All good Bloody Marys need a bit of heat. We’ve been known to infuse chillis in vodka purely for this purpose, but the cocktail purists in us like the peppery warmth that tabasco sauce brings. Four dashes minimum; Six for decent heat; More for a full tabasco blast.
We would argue this is another essential. The unami flavours pull everything together, transforming it from a simple drink to something approaching a full meal. If you’re suffering from a hangover and believe in the ‘hair of the dog’ method for recovery then lashings of the stuff is required. For the rest of us, three to five dashes will suffice.
Freshens the whole piece. If you’re squeezing, half a lemon will suffice; if you’re measuring, 15ml will do the trick.
Seeing as this is now practically a meal, a pinch of salt will heighten the flavour senses to the maximum. You could also add a grind of pepper, a pinch of celery salt, a few flakes of chilli powder, or any other herbs and spices you care to lob into the mix. We think a simple pinch of salt is enough.
Celery doesn’t get much of a look in when it comes to fine cuisine, so why deprive it of its glory as the traditional Bloody Mary stirring stick of choice. Gives off a nice whiff as you approach the glass and, when you’ve finished drinking, it gives you something extra to munch through.
How to mix your bloody Mary
This is a good drink for making in large batches to share with friends or pop in the fridge for later. Simply put all of the ingredients in a jug. Gently stir. Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the bloody mix before finishing with the stick of celery.
Get your Tongue in Peat tomato juice here
*Why is it called a Bloody Mary? Seems that no-one is quite sure. Queen Mary I, the royal who was nicknamed Bloody Mary due to her bloody reign over England? Hollywood star Mary Pickford? A waitress at a Chicago bar, the Bucket of Blood? A mispronunciation of Vladimir? Or someone called Mary getting the drinks order wrong on a hen night. All theories, none proved…