The secret to making the perfect Bloody Mary, according to a golf-club chef
Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.
The Bloody Mary is a quintessential savory cocktail, popular at clubhouse bars and beverage carts alike. It’s also a libation of a thousand faces, its flavor profile and appearance shifting depending on the garnishes you choose. At Liberty National Golf Club, in New Jersey, where I serve as assistant general manager and executive chef, we build our Bloody Marys around a reliably delicious vodka-and-tomato juice base. But we never hesitate to get creative. I’ve included our go-to recipe below, along with suggestions for how to make a first-rate Bloody that’s entirely your own.
Use quality ingredients
A cocktail is only as good as its components. Go with the best ingredients you can find, starting with the vodka and tomato juice and on through the olives, lemons and other garnishes. You might spend a little extra, but you’ll get more in return.
Have fun with the garnishes
One of the beauties of the Bloody Mary is its openness to countless permutations, whether dressed up simply or lavishly adorned. You can garnish yours with little more than lemon, olives and a celery stalk, or go for broke with something more elaborate, like, say, a jumbo shrimp nestled in a basket of pickled vegetables with hard-boiled quail eggs and crispy bacon.
At Liberty National, I’ve served what I call a Kobe Mary, with beef-fat-washed vodka and a Kobe beef skewer. I also do a “Build Your Own Bloody,” with such optional add-ons such as lacquered bacon, piquillo peppers, fried oysters, smoked sea salt… the list goes on. You get the picture. The sky’s the limit. Once you’ve got the basics of the Bloody down, play around with other preparations. The next great cocktail might be one that you invent.
Mind the time of year, and the time of day
Maybe you like your Bloody Marys in the morning (no judgment here!) or perhaps you only drink them on sun-splashed afternoons. Whether you’re enjoying a liquid breakfast or an early post-round drink with your regular foursome, this spicy, delicious cocktail could do more for your swing than a lesson from Butch Harmon. In spring, I tend to garnish with baby vegetables to reflect the season. Summer warrants Cajun-dusted shrimp or even a petite fish taco clipped to the glass with a mini-clothespin. Come fall, rimming the glass with smoked sea salt is a fitting touch, with heartier pickled vegetables as garnish. Again, have fun with it.
Variations on a theme
By tweaking the garnishes and swapping vodka for another spirit, you can make a Bloody by a different name. Here are some of my favorite spin-offs.
Bloody Maria: With tequila blanco in place of vodka, and lemon instead of lime.
Bloody Caesar: Created in Calgary, this Canadian-born drink foregoes tomato juice for Clamato juice, and olives for cucumber spears. In lieu of regular salt, celery salt is used to rim the glass.
Bloody Scotsman: Sub out Vodka for blended scotch whisky.
The Michelada: Though it’s not exactly a Bloody Mary spin-off, it would be a shame not to mention this revered lager-based cocktail in the same conversation. There are variations of this Mexican favorite with 2 oz. of Clamato juice as well.
12 oz Mexican lager, such as Tecate
1/2 oz lime juice
2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
2 dash Maggi seasoning
2 dash Mexican Hot Sauce-Cholula
Coarse sea salt
Method: Mix sea salt and Taji in a saucer. Rub rim of glass with lime wedge and roll in seasoned salt. Fill glass with ice. Add Maggi, Cholula, Worcestershire and lime juice. Quick stir with a barspoon. Then add lager. Another stir and add a lime wedge.
THE LIBERTY NATIONAL BLOODY MARY
2 oz vodka
4 oz tomato juice
1/4 oz lemon juice
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes Tabasco Sauce
1 bar spoon horseradish
1 pinch celery salt
2 half-grind black pepper
Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and pour back and forth into another mixing glass three times. Strain with Hawthorne strainer into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with celery stalk, lemon wedge and a few cocktail olives on a skewer.