The classic hair of the dog brunch cocktail is getting a facelift. From fresh seafood garnishes’ at Shaw’s Crab House, a gazpacho substitute for Bloody Mary mix at Café Ba Ba Reeba! to a whiskey base at Bub City. Our cocktail experts talked us through how to build the perfect Bloody Mary bar at home with some unexpected twists along the way.
Mark Sotelino, General Manager at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba!, says that the number one rule to crafting Bloody Mary perfection: “With any recipe, you’re looking to balance four flavor profiles: sweet, spice, acidity, and bitterness.”
With that in mind, we spoke with Diane Corcoran, Beverage Director at Bub City, who walked us through the steps of building your own Bloody Mary bar at home. Ready, set, mix.
Start with a great tomato base:
Any tomato base works. We suggest picking up a bottle of Bub City’s special Bloody Mary Mix ($6 for 32-ounce bottle; available at Bub City). Café Ba Ba Reeba!’s General Manager, Mark Sotelino suggests Uncle Dougie’s. Or if you are feeling adventurous build your own mix based on your ideal balance of salty, smoky, spicy, etc.
Pick your spirit:
“Different spirits for different tastes! You can throw any kind of spirit in your favorite Bloody Mary mix, whether it’s vodka, gin, whiskey or tequila.”- Diane suggests starting out with 1½ ounces of your choice in alcohol. Some ideas:
Spicy: Rittenhouse Rye plays well with the spices in the Bub City Bloody Mary Mix and lends a spicy note to the drink
Smooth: George Dickel #12: this Tennessee whiskey adds sweet corn notes and is straightforward and smooth
Interesting: Two James Spirits Rye Dog White Whiskey: makes for an interesting drink; this unaged Michigan rye adds notes of floral and citrus plus a nice bite
Bold: Casamigos Blanco Tequila is earthy, peppery and bold
Citrusy: Letherbee Gin: nice and bold spice with citrus elements
Traditional/Easy-Going: CH Distillery Vodka: this Chicago-made vodka is the most traditional Bloody Mary spirit. It’s local, smooth and has little flavor to it which makes for a good base spirit
Smokey: Banhez Mezcal plays perfectly with Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!’s tomato gazpacho mix to add a little fire to your morning drink. Make it yourself with their home-bartender friendly version.
Choose your spices and flavors:
Having an acid balance of citrus and/or pickle or olive juice is crucial. Other add-ons could include Worcestershire sauce (always!), BBQ or steak sauce, horseradish, Sriracha, black pepper, celery salt, chipotle (adobo) and cumin.
Select your garnishes:
Veggies first! Anything pickled goes, try pickles, asparagus, pepperoncini, jalapenos, okra. Then add things like celery, olives (or stuffed olives), seafood (like shrimp), bacon, pepperoni sticks, beef jerky. Last, the citrus – a lemon or lime wedge.
Don’t forget to salt the rim:
Lime salt, celery salt or chili salt all go well.