03 February 2010

Benito vs. the Cocktail: Tomatillo Bloody Mary

I'll come right out and say it: I don't like the Bloody Mary cocktail.

I've had plenty at different restaurants in different states, but frankly I'd rather just drink tomato juice and have a shot of vodka and a salad on the side. But if this blog demonstrates nothing else, it's that I'm open minded. If someone ever fixed me an elaborate Bloody Mary with Absolut Peppar and heirloom tomatoes and a foot-high garnish that's a shish kabob of shrimp, boiled eggs, and five different vegetables, I'd drink it and give it a fair chance.

In a recent issue of Saveur, there were a dozen different Bloody Mary recipes. Most were just variations on the same theme, but the Tomatillo Bloody Mary caught my eye. I like tomatillos and the rest of the fresh ingredients listed, and the recipe was just too damned weird to pass up. In the grand tradition of desperation recipes like Buffalo Wings, it seemed like the late night creation of a guy stuck with only a bottle of vodka and a jar of salsa verde.

And that's precisely what it is. In fact, just ditch the vodka and you've got a really delicious salsa verde. It's too thick to drink easily, and while I like the flavor well enough, it isn't really refreshing or relaxing like a cocktail should be. After just a few sips I felt like I'd been doing shots of pulpy wheatgrass juice down at the smoothie bar, trying to humor a pretty vegetarian chick. (Ah, to be 22 again...)

Maybe it would work better as a weird amuse bouche before dinner--call it a cold vodka green tomato soup, for instance. Frankly I'm thinking that this recipe was either a cruel joke in the style of Penn & Teller's Swedish Lemon Angels or an unfortunate Nihilartikel.

Final verdict: I still don't like the Bloody Mary. If anyone has the perfect recipe that will convert me, feel free to post it in the comments and I might tackle this topic again in a few months. It's going to take a while to get the taste of green salsa and grass clippings out of my mouth.


Mama Squirrel said...

I'm not a Bloody Mary fan either. Maybe this would work better if you went through the process we used at Christmas to make the tomatillo consomme? That would at least smooth it out.

Benito said...


I had a lot of leftover green Bloody Mary, so I strained it overnight and re-evaluated it as a clear liquid to remove any texture issues. Nope, still about as pleasant as drinking the pickle brine straight from the jar.

The green tomato/tomatillo/cucumber part is one thing. The serrano pepper/garlic/cilantro really hammer it into your head that this is a salsa, not something you should be drinking straight.


Samantha Dugan said...

I love pickle juice....which might explain a lot. That Tomatillo Bloody Mary just looks vile and I am going to try and get over there to see if it indeed on the menu, doubt I would order one but still. I love a great Bloody Mary, that's a lie, I love all Bloody Mary's but they are a bit like having meal.

Benito said...


I finally Googled the restaurant and discovered that yes, it's actually available there. Others have taken pictures of it but I didn't see any actual reviews of the beverage.

I'm more than happy to be proven wrong on this one, but most Bloody Marys rely on a base of tomato juice--ripe red tomatoes are practically just bags of liquid anyway. Here, there's just a lot of solid vegetable matter combined with flavors that are weird to imbibe. Even if you blend it forever it's still more like salsa than a drink.


Kimberly said...

That looks waaaayyy too healthy to taste good. Methinks it would make an outstanding soup, however!
Kudos to you for actually making this and drinking it. Now I won't feel compelled to! : )

fredric koeppel said...

Thanks for taking the hit for us. Bloody Marys can be soothing at brunch, sort of, but the drink has gotten way out of hand with various vegetable blandishments and garnishes. There's an air of desperation about them.

Benito said...


I suppose without the vodka it is pretty healthy. I tried a bit with some corn chips and yes, it did make a lovely green salsa.


As long as I'm on my Andy Rooney rant here, places tend to oversalt their Bloody Marys. A little bit brings out the tomato flavor, but then they add a good pour of olive brine and salt the rim for good measure.


Joe said...


I don't like bloody marys either (I think it stems from an event with a bottle of Barton's, a giant Sam's 1.5 gallon V8, and a 2 gallon pre-mix of BM's back in college; intended to drink over several days).

This, however, looks good. But, you're right. Maybe without the vodka. For some reason, it's the vodka-vegetable combo that just rubs me the wrong way with Marys. So, vodka being a critical ingredient, it may be fair to say that I'll never like them.

Oh, and I still take the damn wheat grass shot at the smoothie bar. It does not impress the girl. I'm not a very impressive specimen to start.

Benito said...


Given the Southwestern sound of the ingredients, I contemplated using tequila instead of vodka. But I thought it would be best to evaluate the drink when made strictly according to the recipe.

I'll never understand the economics of wheatgrass juice. I've never seen anyone purchase it, just retailers begging people to try a little sample cup. I'm not saying nobody buys it, and I really don't have anything against the stuff.