Drink of the Week: The Bloody Caesar

The Bloody Caesar

In general, Canada’s correctly beloved Bloody Caesar is nothing more or less than a Bloody Mary made with Clamato or a similar tomato/clam juice beverage rather than straight tomato juice. In fact, you are certainly not ill-advised to simply make that substitution with the previously described DOTW Bloody Mary recipe. Nevertheless, I recently tried out this particular recipe provided by, naturally, the Canadian Club people to promote their new Canadian Club Classic 12 Year-Old whisky and I highly recommend it.

Yes, you can make a bloody beverage with not only vodka and gin but with various types of whiskey, and I have to say that this particular variant on the classic is pretty fantastic. It’s about as refreshing as an alcoholic cocktail can be while having plenty of spice to it. It really does seem to taste best with CC’s newest brand, but this version of the Bloody Caesar works very nicely with vodka or regular Canadian Club as well. The trick here is that this is the first Bloody Anything I’ve tried that comes out of shaker rather than being built in the glass.

The Bloody Caesar, CC Variant

1.5 ounces Canadian Club Classic 12, or alternative boozes as preferred and available
4 ounces Clamato/tomato-mollusk beverage of your choice
4 dashes Tabasco/Louisiana hot sauce of your preference
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce (I like Lea & Perrin’s, when I find it on sale)
1 dash black pepper
1 lemon wedge
1 small celery stalk (optional but very nice garnish)

Pour your liquor and tomato-clam beverage into a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire and pepper. Squeeze the juice out of your lemon wedge and throw the spent edge into the mix. Shake very vigorously. Strain over fresh ice into a highball/Collins glass. Add your celery, if you’ve got it.

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I did try one more variant of this, using an inexpensive brand of blended Scotch. It wasn’t half bad. I hereby christen it the Bloody Macbeth. Just be careful when ordering it near nervous Shakespeareans.

  

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Drink of the Week: The Vodka Martini

vodka martiniSo, this all started when, through the kindness of a smart and generous publicist working for Diageo, two bottles of very good vodka found their way to my door. Ketel One is the solid and very popular brand of premium liquor you probably all know, with its bright, clean taste. With a bit more complexity and bite than we usually associate with what was once marketed as “white whisky,” certified organic Moon Mountain Vodka, a small batch liquor, also came my way. Both are superior vodkas which, I’m certain, would do very well in any good vodka cocktail from a Bloody Mary to a Moscow Mule. Still, I decided to first enjoy them in probably their purest cocktail form, the vodka martini.

Now, careful readers with long memories may recall that we covered the martini — both gin and vodka — in the first ever edition of DOTW. Nevertheless, we didn’t really give the vodka variation its proper attention as a sturdy cocktail in its own right. (Many will insist it’s not the same drink and they’re not half wrong.) Today, we correct that oversight with, really, the first cocktail that ever became “my” drink and only partially because I grew up with James Bond on the brain. You’ll note that we’re using significantly less vermouth this time around.

The Vodka Martini

3 ounces vodka
1 teaspoon to 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1 dash of orange bitters (optional)
Lemon twist or olive garnish

Combine vodka and a tiny, or teeny-tiny, amount of vermouth in a cocktail shaker. Also consider throwing in a very small amount of orange bitters. This may be heretical in some quarters, but we like our vodka martinis seriously cloudy with ice crystals, especially since we’re keeping the vermouth to a minimum this time, so all of these liquids should be poured over crushed ice, if you can manage it. Then shake like crazy for as long as you can stand to. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass with olives or a twist of lemon, though we prefer olives. Sip slowly, this is essentially two drinks in one. (Use 100 proof vodka only at your own risk.)

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I have to admit to some small consternation when trying this at home that I never quite reached the level of smooth perfection that my very longstanding and extremely good friend, hostess par excellance Dr. R., achieves regularly with her vodka martinis. Apparently, however, her secret involves using just a smidge of olive brine, which technically makes her drink a dirty martini.

I love dirty martinis and I’m sure I’ll cover them at some point later on, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait. Apparently, her trick is to just use a drop of vermouth, and a touch of brine and lots and lots of crushed ice — and no bitters. I like my version but, I have to admit, her’s is pretty damn perfect.

As for which brand of vodka worked better…that depends. The Moon Mountain is better for those who really like to know they’re imbibing alcohol while being kind to the environment, while the Ketel One is slightly preferable for those who’d like to pretend they’re drinking an intoxicating iceberg.

  

Drink of the Week: The Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary plusLong before I began to get more than casually interested in mixology, I wondered into a dive bar on Sunset Boulevard and requested a bloody Mary from a crotchety bartender.

“Bloody Mary’s are what alcoholics drink in the morning!” he informed me brusquely, clearly speaking of a subject he knew first hand. After it became clear he wasn’t joking and really was irritated by my order, I settled for a screwdriver, but I wasn’t happy. Sorry, but in my opinion you should be allowed to enjoy this delicious cocktail at any time of day and you shouldn’t have had to have blacked out the night before in order to merit one. In fact, if you have, you’re probably a lot better off drinking it virgin (i.e., alcohol free), which really isn’t a bad thing to drink regardless.

The origins of this fairly easy to make but still rather complex drink, with loads of potential ingredients, are vague but apparently some credit is due the late comedian and “Toastmaster General” George Jessel — today best known as the inspiration for the voice of Dr. Zoidberg on Matt Groening’s “Futurama.” It’s apparent that the name “bloody Mary” either comes from bloodthirsty Queen Mary I of England or the legendary ghost all 9 year-olds know, but that’s a bit vague too.  We do know that if you repeat the name “bloody Mary” 100 times, you’ll get a bartender even more annoyed than the one who refused to make me this drink.

Below is a good, but rather mild, starter recipe.

The Bloody Mary

1-1.5 ounces of vodka
4-6 ounces tomato juice
1-3 dashes of hot sauce
2-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 dash of ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. pure horseradish (or more)
1-3 dashes celery salt
1/2 ounce of lemon juice (optional)’

Possible garnishes: celery stalk, lemon slice, olives, pickled green beans, carrot sticks, dill pickles, cucumber, cooked cold shrimp, whole Maine lobster (just kidding on that one)

Pour tomato juice and vodka over ice into a glass (Collins or larger), add Tabasco or the hot sauce of your choice, Worcestershire, pepper and other spices. Stir vigorously with swizzle stick or bar spoon, add as many garnishes as you dare.

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As you can see, there’s a lot of room for variation and personal taste here. To be honest, I’m still perfecting what proportions and technique work best for me and I’m not sure why sometimes my bloody Mary tastes heavenly and other times, just pretty good.

A couple of quick notes. First of all, don’t be afraid to try other types of liquor other than vodka. I’ve been using gin a lot lately, but also have had reasonable success, believe it or not, with whiskeys. Also, don’t let the fact that you may not have every single one of these ingredients stop you from building your own bloody Mary.

In fact, the best bloody Mary by far that I’ve made myself came from a recipe developed by Hendrick’s gin for use with their brand. It’s just Hendricks, tomato juice, a slice of cucumber, some hot sauce, and ice. My second favorite version of the bloody Mary comes from Canada. It seems our neighbors to the north make theirs with Clamato and they call it a bloody Caesar. I’d say it was “bloody good,” but that would be annoying.

  

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