There are few things I find more irresistible or refreshing than pressing my lips to a seasoned rim and enjoying a chilled sip of farm-fresh juice perfectly blended with spices, sauces, and handcrafted liquor. I’m talking about the Bloody Mary—an iconic cocktail to be enjoyed, no matter what time of day. There’s also something about a Bloody Mary that conjures up nostalgic feelings of relaxation, exploration, and remediation, especially come summertime here in the Northwest when the sun is out and boaters like me are dropping anchor inside our favorite cove or marina.
For the cocktail connoisseur, you know the Bloody Mary is one of those memorable drinks that is time-tested, yet so unique and special that many bartenders feel they’ve been given a blank canvas in which to be creative, offering mariners and landlubbers alike a savory alcoholic beverage that can be specifically tailor-made to suite particular taste preferences. Here is one of those delicious riffs on the classic sipper; this one relies on fresh-pressed beet juice paired with spicy tomato and pepperoncini for an invigorating harmony of flavors and textures. Aptly named “Turn Up the Beet Bloody Mary,” the proportion of beet juice to tomato juice makes this cocktail excitingly light and not too earthy, and the bacon stick and salt rim, well, that’s simply divine. You can find this recipe and others in my book: The New Bloody Mary: More Than 75 Classics, Riffs & Contemporary Recipes for the Modern Bar, which I co-wrote with famed bartender Vincenzo Marianella.
Turn Up the Beet Bloody Mary
Rim: Lemon wedge, bacon salt and smoked paprika
4 ounces chilled premium vodka, divided
Beet Bloody Mary Mix, as needed, recipe follows
Hot sauce, as needed, to taste
Garnish: Pickled asparagus, kosher pickles, fresh rosemary sprig, celery, peppered bacon, small beets, pimento olives, pepperoncini.
Run a fresh lemon wedge around the rims of two cocktail glasses. Roll the moistened rims in bacon salt and a bit of smoked paprika, then fill the glasses with ice. Set aside. In a cocktail shaker filled with minimal ice, add half of the vodka (2 ounces), and top off with half of the Beet Bloody Mary Mix. Add a dash or two, or more, of hot sauce, depending on your heat level. Shake and pour into the first prepared glass. Repeat the process for the second glass. Garnish and serve.
Beet Bloody Mary Mix
Makes about 2 cups
1½ cups spicy tomato juice
½ cup pure fresh-pressed beet juice
1 tablespoon pepperoncini juice (from jar)
½ lemon, juiced
1½ teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon grated fresh horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon ground garlic
In a pitcher or suitable container, add the tomato juice, beet juice, pepperoncini juice, lemon juice, pepper, horseradish, Worcestershire, and garlic. Stir well to combine. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.