Most well-known cocktails don’t require a ton of effort in order to make them right. This article is not about those cocktails. Today we’re breaking down the most complicated cocktail in the world and giving you tips for how to make it like a pro.
So what cocktail are we talking about? Answer: the Bloody Mary.
Now, we’re not surprised if you think we’re crazy for saying that. After all, everyone’s had a Bloody Mary. A lot of us have even made our own at home. But according to the American Chemical Society, the blend of flavors make it the most complex cocktail on the planet. “It’s a very complicated drink,” explains Neil Da Costa, a expert on the chemical analysis of flavors at International Flavors & Fragrances. “From the standpoint of flavor chemistry, you’ve got a blend of hundreds of flavor compounds that act on the taste senses. [The Bloody Mary] covers almost the entire range of human taste sensations — sweet, salty, sour, and savory — but not bitter.”
Da Costa took the ingredients from the traditional recipe and analyzed them for composition and sensory attributes. Based on his findings, he came up with tips for perfecting the flavor profile of the drink, as well as boosting its health benefits:
- Make it fresh: The Bloody Mary is a “highly unstable” concoction, whose quality deteriorates quickly. Make just what you need and enjoy it immediately instead of making a batch ahead of time.
- Save on the vodka: If made right, the spicy flavor of a Bloody Mary masks the taste of the alcohol. Unless you really want to waste money, using expensive vodka doesn’t make any sense.
- Splurge on the juice: As tomato juice makes up most of a Bloody Mary, this is where you really want to focus on quality. Ideally, you should use your own juice made from freshly squeezed ripe tomatoes.
- Don’t skimp on the ice: Ice helps to “slow down the chemical reactions involving acids in tomato juice and other ingredients that degrade the taste.” Use a pint glass so there’s plenty of room for lots of ice.
THE PERFECT BLOODY MARY
2 ounces inexpensive vodka
4 ounces freshly squeezed tomato juice
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge
2 dashes tabasco sauce
2 tsp prepared horseradish
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch celery salt, plus more to rim glass
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 pinch smoked paprika
Celery stalk and lime wedge, for garnish
Additional garnishes such as green olives and asparagus, as desired
Pour some celery salt onto a small plate. Using a lemon or lime wedge, wet the rim of a pint glass and dip it into the salt until it’s fully coated. Fill the glass with ice and set aside. In a cocktail shaker, squeeze the lemon and lime wedges and drop them in. Add the remaining ingredients and fill the shaker with ice. Shake gently and strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a celery stalk, a lime wedge, and any other desired garnishes.
Don’t want to squeeze your own juice? That’s OK, we understand. As the second-best option, Da Costa recommends using a pre-made organic blend with a deep, rich color. We’re fans of this healthy version from the brand Lakewood, which is GMO-free, has no sodium added, and uses three pounds of fresh-pressed tomatoes in every bottle.