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Bloody Marys are the kind of bright, refreshing drink that slaps the cranky hangover haze right out of your system...or, at least, jolts it out of commission till later. But beyond its oft-touted (and not-actually-real) healing properties, the Bloody Mary is a downright delicious cocktail that manages to capture a full range of savory, tangy, spicy, and sweet flavors in one chuggable glass.
We've brought you The Ultimate, Fully Loaded Bloody Mary, and we've explored the drink's gradual rise to fame. We know that you can use pretty cheap hooch in it with no real sacrifice of flavor. But what about the drink's inherent versatility?
People already tailor their Bloody Marys to personal preference in a way that most cocktails could never tolerate—a glug of Tabasco here, a dash of Worcestershire there, more pepper, salt, olives, lemons, or limes. It's a free-for-all kind of beverage, which only makes it all the more tempting to mess around with the basic recipe. So that's exactly what I did, with four new twists on the classic. And I have to say, they're so delicious, I may just try extra hard to guarantee some hangovers this summer, just so I can drink 'em away with one of these beverages come morning.
Shochu Bloody Mary With Wasabi and Pickled Ginger
Faintly nutty shochu and smooth, dry sake combine in this Japanese-inspired take on the Bloody Mary. It gets that nose-clearing pungency of horseradish from a dash of wasabi powder (in the States, at least, that just means powdered horseradish root) and togarashi, a peppery chili-based seasoning blend studded with sesame seeds. Sticky, garlicky teriyaki sauce brings some sweetness on board (you can make your own or buy a thicker bottled version), while a spoonful of miso paste and a salt- and togarashi-coated rim keeps things balanced and firmly rooted in savory territory. Finally, lime juice adds some acidity, but it's a pour of pickled-ginger brine that rounds out the subtle but dynamic complexity of the drink. Serve this version with some skewered pickled ginger and a slice of lime.
Mezcal Mary With Roasted Jalapeño and Bacon
I don't have anything against a tequila-spiked Bloody Maria, but there's more than one way to give the classic cocktail a Mexican twist. This version swaps out neutral vodka for smoky Oaxacan mezcal. In place of horseradish and Tabasco, the tomato juice gets a rumble of fruity heat from a roasted-jalapeño purée, brightened with tart lime juice. Serve it from a pitcher, but make sure to prep the glasses individually: Each one is rimmed with chili powder–spiked salt and garnished with a slice of lime and a bacon swizzle stick, made by wrapping a rasher around a skewer and cooking it in the oven. The crisp bacon adds a subtle element of fatty, meaty, porky flavor. It may not be a pickle, but I promise it tastes pretty incredible doused in the savory, boozy drink.
Thai-Style Bloody Mary With Cilantro and Fried Shallots
A great Thai dipping sauce should be so addictively salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy that you want to lift it to your lips and drink it all down. That's the idea behind this powerhouse of a cocktail, and, aside from your requisite vodka and tomato juice, it's a whole new game. The real cornerstone is fish sauce, which replaces traditional Worcestershire for a more fermented, funky undercurrent of umami. Then there's the heat of sambal oelek, the spicy, vinegary chili paste that hails from Indonesia. Lime juice swoops in for a hit of tangy citrus, and chopped cilantro gives it a grassy, herbal note. It's finished off with a dose of molasses-y brown sugar simple syrup, a glug of bubbly beer, and a salty-sweet garnish of crunchy fried shallots.
Gazpacho Bloody Mary With Pickled Shrimp
If you love gazpacho and you love Bloody Marys and you've always wished they could be united in one smooth, sippable, kinda soupy cocktail, then you're just a blender away from a dream come true. The gazpacho-inspired base forgoes the bread and large volume of olive oil in our easy gazpacho recipe for a thinner, more drinkable texture. I emphasize the bold flavors of red onion, sherry vinegar, and yes, a bit of garlic, for a punchy base that can stand up to a generous pour of herbal gin. Then it gets all those traditional Bloody Mary add-ins—horseradish, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and pickle brine—to keep it as bold and invigorating as the original. The finishing touch is a garnish of quick-pickled shrimp, which are ready to eat within an hour (but keep for several days and are, incidentally, delightfully snackable). You can serve this Bloody with just a single shrimp or go full-on shrimp cocktail with it, with a side of bread to mop up the leftover shrimp-y, oniony pickling brine. That's right. At long last, you can have your brunch and drink it, too.