When it comes to the Bloody Mary, you say “tomato,” I say “no, thanks.” While a tomato fresh from the garden can be a beautiful thing, something about tomato juice has always been a deal-breaker for me. And that includes the brunch staple, which I’ve always regarded as a sinister attempt to cover up the tinny off-puttingly viscous fallacy that is tomato juice.
So when The Bloody Mary: The Lore and Legend of a Cocktail Classic, with Recipes for Brunch and Beyond (Ten Speed Press, $19), a new book by Brian Bartels, landed on my desk, my first response was an automatic crinkle of the nose. No, thanks. But it turns out, the book contains plenty of Bloody variations that include little or no tomato juice. Instead, a whole rainbow of other juices get the eye-opener treatment: papaya, orange, cucumber, carrots and beets. Maybe there’s brunch hope for tomato juice haters like me after all.
Carrots, cayenne and caper brine, yes. Tomatoes, no! The Bunny Mary, created by Extra Fancy’s Rob Krueger in New York City, gets its vibrant hue from carrot juice, punched up with savory carrot brine and a spicy cayenne-and-paprika rim for the glass.
Lower alcohol than most Bloodys, Shannon’s Sangrita/Michelada (named for creator Shannon Ponche of Clover Club and Leyenda in New York City) mixes carrot, papaya, orange and lime juices, spiced with two types of chile powder and topped up with Mexican beer for a drink that’s not exactly a Bloody but offers a similar sweet-savory-spicy appeal.