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Reinventing The Bloody Mary

Savory cocktails may be high on consumers’ list of adult beverages, but that’s not why Bloody Marys are still popular for breakfast, brunch and evenings. The number of Bloody Marys on menus at U.S. bars and restaurants climbed 8.2 percent from the third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2014, according to Technomic, a Chicago-based foodservice research firm.

The drink has an 80-year history and is easily refreshed by changing ingredients to up the inventiveness of the drink, while staying faithful to the original intent. Infused vodkas and toppings such as mini cheeseburgers, bacon strips and crab claws add to the adventurous transformation of tomato juice.

Some other findings from the Technomic Trends in Adult Beverages studies include:

33 percent of consumers order Bloody Marys once a month or more frequently;

58 percent who order the cocktail drink two or more per occasion;

54 percent prefer the house-made mix to canned varieties.

A popular feature of the drink is that it often comes with a meal. For instance, the toppings at Ike’s Food and Cocktails in Minneapolis on weekends include: a celery stalk, cheddar cheese cube, beef stick, shrimp, pepperoncini, house-pickled green bean, black and green olive, lime and a half-and-half spice- and salt-encrusted rim. The drink (pictured above) sells for $10.50 on the weekend and a less enhanced version rings up at $9 during the week. A nice touch was on the day we visited, Mary prepared the drink.

Bloody Marys are often served with beer chasers to tame the spiciness. Pairing the two offers another chance at creativity with the variety of beers now available.

Another fan favorite is at Hell’s Kitchen (above), where they skip the “show-off salad,” according to the menu, in favor of a house-made mix and chipotle-and orange-infused Finlandia vodka. The glass is rimmed in the owner Mitch’s spicy-sweet rib rub. It’s topped with a slice of pickle like an upside-down mustache and a beef stick.

While on a franchise trade mission to Mexico for our sister publication Franchise Times, we discovered the Spanish version of the drink, Sangrita, which translates to “little blood.” A server at one of the restaurants we visited wrote the recipe on a napkin for us. It varies from restaurant to restaurant and depending on whether you are in Mexico City or Monterrey. In Monterrey, it’s served in a large shot glass, along with a shot of fresh lime juice and one of vodka. Spicy salt—one version included ground worms—can be added to the Sangrita or licked off your hand before downing the tequila.

We’ve included the recipe below, and a quick look on Wikipedia gave us some measurements: 5 parts tomato juice, 2 parts fresh lime juice, 1 part orange juice; season with the remaining ingredients: salt, pepper, Granada syrup, Worcestershire sauce, maggi and Tabasco to taste.

No recipe for the ground worm salt, sorry.

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