Tangy toms

The Bloody Mary is initially quite the quirksome cocktail. Tomato juice isn’t to everyone’s taste given its savoury nature – but for me the cocktail has become one of my favourites. The Sunday morning special; I tend, contrary to tradition, to often have one prior to meals in restaurants.

Perhaps it’s the umami nature of the drink; perhaps the killer savoury, spicy, citrusy combination, set off with a hit of celery that whets my appetite. Who knows – it has become a firm part of my repertoire and a pre-dinner must. Indeed, as I write, I’m readying a round of Bloody Marys for an October barbecue – the first of those that I can remember.

As with the realm of food, that of the cocktail is so open to interpretation, I threw the floor open to some friends and came back with an eclectic selection of ‘ultimate bloody marys’. Tim Hayward, writer and owner of Fitzbillies bakery in Bristol suggested a recipe using Spanish gazpacho (the carton, shop-bought variety available in Spanish delis) and a slug of olive oil. A common suggestion from fellow foodies was chilled sherry slinked into the top which sounds a delicious, complexity-adding addition. My friend and author of the recent fab book Comfort and Spice suggests using stunning Isle of Wight yellow tomato juice. One of the more eclectic suggestions was for a Tom Yum variation – although perhaps the fish sauce might be best left out. Maybe not though – after all, Worcester Sauce, an essential ingredient, does have anchovies in it.

For my money, I go classic. It’s a good starting point to work from. I may vary it by using a different hot sauce – chipotle Tabasco for example, for a smoky hit. Give this a whirl next Sunday morning, pre-roast. For a perfect appetiser serve with some pork scratchings. The ultimate warm up.

Click here for my recipe for a classic bloody mary

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