There are many, many variations on the Bloody Mary, most which involve a quick shifting out of the spirit. In most variations, a lot of people don’t make many changes to the mixer or the accents, and so the drink tastes like tomato juice mixed with a specific type of liquor; to me, this is a mistake. Many times, the better variations on the Bloody Mary will switch out the accents, using a lime instead of a lemon, or a different type of spice to give the drink a little more unification and sophistication. However, among the classic and common variations, the best versions are those that switch out the mixer entirely, giving the drink a bit of a complexity.
Created in an American steakhouse known as the Caucus Club, the drink was the idea of one of the founders’, id est Les Gruber, in 1952. Les and Sam Gruber, in 1938, opened the London Chop House in the basement of a building which rapidly become the best restaurant in Detroit, rising to international levels of fame, even gaining a nickname, “the Chopper.” Because of the popularity exceeding the limits of the restaurants space, in 1952, they opened up the Caucus Club to handle the overflow. The offshoot has outlived the London Chop House, which saw a rough patch in the 1980s, finally closing in 1991 (Whitaker).
The drink, which is normally served chilled, is actually quite endearing when you make it warm, especially if you have homemade beef stock (Regan 231). The drink is supposedly a “good way to keep warm at a cold ballgame” according to Trader Vic, but everyone agrees that it is a relatively palatable “hair of the dog” (Jackson 149). In either case, it is truly a reviver cocktail, one meant to uplift the spirits of the drinker, whether or not it is used for remedying a hangover or to warm up in the cold. I personally think this makes a good drink on a cold rainy day, or as a remedy for the common cold, since it provides warmth to the body not only by means of the temperature but also the liquors own act of warming the imbiber. As a cold drink, it works nicely as a long sipper, but the savory components of the broth diminish the overall appeal of the beverage.
In either case, I must state that this drink is absolutely magnificent if you have some homemade beef stock. The flavors can be toyed with and you can create something that truly appeals to you; plus, if making a meal that features beef broth, like an au jus or a jambalaya, you can create a really nice mariage between this cocktail and the entree, bringing out a bit more of the savory components of the broth in the food which is usually partially obscured (or augmented, depending on your interpretation) by other additions of either a mirepoix or soffrito.
2 ounces vodka
4 ounces beef bouillon
1 barspoon Worchestershire sauce
1/4 – 1/2 ounce lemon juice
dash of Tabasco
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
If cold, combine ingredients over ice, stirring, and strain into an Old Fashioned glass. If warm, combine all the ingredients but the vodka in a small pan, heating the beef bouillon / stock. Pour into a small mug over two ounces of vodka, giving a brief stir. Garnish with a slice of lemon.
Jackson, Michael. 1995. Michael Jackson’s Bar and Cocktail Companion: The Connoisseur’s Handbook. Originally published 1979. Philadelphia: Running Press.
Regan, Gary. 2003. The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender’s Craft. New York: Random House.
Whitaker, Jan. 2009. “Famous in its day: London Chop House.” Restaurant-ing through history. Originally published July 18, 2009. http://victualling.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/famous-in-its-day-london-chop-house/ (accessed October 21, 2010).