Welcome to the August edition of the Tattler! How is your summer so far? There’s lots of excitement over here at Bloody Mary headquarters. My tomato crop is booming (did you plant your custom-made Bloody Mary bookmarks? Send me pix of your garden!). I’m in the final stages of creating my first bottled mix. I’m starting work on a couple of new printed products for the holidays. And I’m leaving for Italy tomorrow – that’s why you’re getting this issue a few days early. My August will be so busy, I don’t know how I’m going to fit in all the fun activities I listed here. Check out this month’s calendar!
• Family Fun Month
• Romance Awareness Month
• Water Quality Month (WC Fields used to refuse to drink water because “fish f**k in it”)
• National Picnic Month
• Rye Month
8/1: Girlfriend’s Day
8/1: India Pale Ale Beer Day
8/4: National Night Out
8/7: International Beer Day
8/8: International Hangover Day (no surprise there)
8/9: Book Lover’s Day
8/12: Milkman Day (AKA Father’s Day, for those of us who suspect)
8/15: National Relaxation Day
8/18: Birth Control Pills Day
8/21: Men’s Grooming Day (it’s about time!!)
8/23: Go Topless Day
8/26: National Toilet Paper Day (send me pics of your costume)
8/29: More Herbs, Less Salt Day
8/29: National Whiskey Sour Day
Bloody Mary of the Month
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been doing a lot of entertaining this summer. The weather in Portland has been unusually warm this year, and that means keeping a cold drink in my guests’ hands at all times.
The last thing you want to do when you’re hosting a crowd is spend the whole time slaving away in the kitchen. It’s better to prepare what you can ahead of time so you can mingle with your friends.
This large-batch Bloody Mary has been a lifesaver for my summer parties. Not only is it easy to throw together the night before, but letting it sit overnight in the fridge actually improves the flavors. (Warning: you’ll need a gallon-sized container, with or without a lid.) Give it a try at your next get-together.
9 cups V8
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons liquid from a jar of olives, pickles, or capers
2-3 tablespoons horseradish
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups cold vodka
2 lemons, to slice for garnish
Combine all ingredients in said gallon container. At party time, fill each guest’s glass with ice and a generous amount of Bloody Mary. Put a little slice or wheel of lemon on the rim of the glass. Makes about 12 drinks.
What’s the deal with bitters? What are they, and why would I want to use them?
Signed, Potentially Bittersweet
Bittersweet, you fashionable cocktologist, you:
Originally, bitters were the ingredient that made a cocktail a cocktail, as opposed to a toddy, a sling, a fizz, a sour, or a flip. For a long time, adding bitters to your drink was considered a very classy thing to do. Then Prohibition happened. Suddenly nobody could afford to be picky about their booze, and bitters sank into oblivion.
Recently, though, bitters have made a comeback. Thanks to all the fun flavors available these days, bitters are more than just trendy and cool; they’re considered to be the spice rack of your bar.
So just what are bitters, you asked? They’re basically a concentrate made from fruits, seeds, spices, roots, herbs, or flowers. Some of the most popular bitters are made from orange or lemon peel, cardamom, celery, cranberry, and grapefruit. High-proof alcohol is used to extract the flavors, and the result is a tincture that is around 80 proof. Bitters are too intense and too – you guessed it, bitter – to just drink on their own, but adding a few drops in a cocktail can turn it from drab to fab in a jiffy. Derek Brown, co-owner of The Columbia Room in Washington DC, has this to say: “Whenever a bitter flavor hits your tongue, it lights up your brain and sends you one of two messages: ‘This could kill you,’ or ‘This could be fun.’ Some bitters work as accents, others as binders to connect the dots of the flavors. Just adding a little bitters brings out the crux of a cocktail’s character.”
Well, Bittersweet, I hope you’re inspired to try some bitters in your next Bloody Mary. Here is a recipe I created just for you to get you started.
3 ounces vodka
6 ounces tomato juice
5 shakes of Worcestershire
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice (about ¼ of a lemon)
A few drops of celery bitters
½ teaspoon each black pepper and salt
Hot sauce to taste
Put everything in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, then strain into a glass over fresh ice.
Let us know how you like it. Thanks for your great question!