The Bloody Mary is perhaps the most iconic breakfast drink, an enlivening mixture of tomato juice, vodka and spices. Its strength stems from its versatility, and every bartender has their own take on the recipe, one they claim is the best interpretation. Often, this means incorporating hot sauces, spices, vinegars and other modifiers.
The Bloody Elixir is one such variation. The recipe comes from H. Joseph Ehrmann. He is a lauded San Francisco bartender and owner of Elixir Saloon (from where the drink gets its name), one of the Bay Area’s oldest taverns. His take on the drink doesn’t get too wild: Most elements of it would be familiar to anyone who has messed around with Bloody Mary concoctions. However, he has a few of his own additions, including dried dill and a house-made “Elixir Juice,” a mixture of pickle and olive brines. Though the recipe isn’t explicitly outlined, you can make the Juice by mixing olive brine, dill pickle brine and then whatever other pickle brines you most enjoy. It’s flexible, so don’t stress about the proportions.
Ehrmann is a big lover of Square One, an organic distillery located in the Bay Area. Many of his drinks, including the Bloody Elixir, use the distillery’s vodka, but feel free to swap it for whatever vodka you have on hand. Ehrmann suggests a rye vodka, as that style better stands up to the other ingredients. Or you can try another spirit, if you prefer the extra aromatics of aquavit or the earthy spice of tequila.
When it comes to any Bloody Mary variant, the garnish is critical. Some recipes call for an abundance of vegetables or even ingredients like bacon, fried chicken or shrimp skewers. Ehrmann’s version is relatively modest, calling for only bacon and a pickle. You can always omit the pork (or swap it for a vegan product) if you’d prefer. And, rather than salt or a flavored-salt rim, Ehrmann lines his glass with Old Bay seasoning. This classic East Coast seafood spice is a lovely enhancement for the drink, so Ehrmann encourages bartenders to serve the cocktail without a straw, so that each sip carries with it some of the Old Bay.
- Old Bay seasoning
- 2 ounces Square One organic vodka
- 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
- 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
- 1/2 ounce Elixir Juice (a mixture of olive brine, dill pickle brine and various other pickle brines)
- 1/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 4 ounces tomato juice
- Garnish: kosher dill pickle
- Garnish: cooked thick-cut bacon slice
Coat the rim of a pint glass with Old Bay Seasoning.
Add the vodka, dill, white pepper, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, Elixir Juice, lemon juice, horseradish and tomato juice into a shaker with ice. Gently shake so as to not dilute.
Pour, without straining, into the prepared pint glass.
Garnish with a kosher dill pickle spear and a cooked bacon slice.