The Extra Crispy staff has feelings about the classic brunch drink
As you can imagine, we sit around and talk about food a lot at Extra Crispy. Throughout the day there are frequent discussions about what's hot, what's not, where to eat, where to avoid, the pros and cons of kombucha, and so on. The other day, the topic of bloody marys came up, and how everyone feeeeeels about them. And so this article was born. Here's a little forum about what the staff truly thinks about the bloody mary.
It's Basically Soup
Let’s be honest with each other: A bloody mary is basically soup. That is 100 percent OK. I’m not trying to soup-shame anyone. There are mornings where I need an alcoholic soup to see the other side of 5 p.m. without expiring, and mornings where vodka-infused gazpacho doesn’t sound amazing to me. I have found that I prefer a bloody mary with a spirit in it that isn’t vodka—my favorite bloody is made with aquavit. I also like a light garnish but not, like, an entire edible arrangement just chilling in my drink. Olives = yes. Hamburgers = have you no decency?
—Margaret Eby, Senior Culture Editor
It Takes All Kinds to Make the Bloody World Go 'Round
I used to be judgy about other people’s bloody mary consumption. It wasn’t the drink necessarily, but rather my own bourgeois hangups about the context in which it was acceptable to order one. It was, to my mind, relegated to the brunching hours and I’d smirk the smirk of the newly-indoctrinated cocktail snob at any rube who’d think to order one at a bar, especially after sundown. Thing is, the bartender never seemed to levy any sort of assessment—just poured, tossed in a celery stick if there was one on hand, and collected the cash, same as they did with my calculated-to-impress Vesper or Gibson—which frankly could have benefitted from a splash of tomato juice, because they’re kinda boring and get you hammered hella quick. These days, I’m much more laissez-faire. You like a head of cabbage and a Peking duck in your drink and wanna guzzle that alongside your dinner entrée, or late night in a dive bar? Mazel. If I do indulge, I tend toward a maria (with tequila rather than vodka), and I’ve even been known to enjoy some pickle brine-based McClure’s mix with nothing but seltzer and ice for a virgin mary. Wanna judge me for it? I bloody well don’t care.
—Kat Kinsman, Senior Food and Drinks Editor
Needs to Be Homemade
In my opinion, the only good bloody mary is a homemade bloody mary. Call me a Negative Nancy/Debbie Downer/Other Semi-Sexist Alliterative Term (actually, don’t do that), but I think most restaurant bloody marys are BS. I’ve been to too many birthday brunches masquerading as excuses to day drink to believe otherwise. The average restaurant bloody mary is a chalice of well vodka and sugary, watered-down, bottled mix. At this point, the drink is essentially nothing more than a vessel for a cornucopia of ridiculous toppings—pure Instagram-bait. I don’t want a seafood tower on my bloody mary. I don’t want a mini-cheeseburger on my bloody mary. I don’t want a slice of pizza, chicken wing, or fried pickle on my bloody mary. I really don’t want a doughnut on my bloody mary. There are a few exceptions to the crappy restaurant bloody, sure, but when I want a bloody mary, I make it myself: Tomato juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco, horseradish, lemon juice, vodka, salt, and pepper. Ice. Celery stick. Conversation over.
—Rebecca Firkser, Culinary Editor
I respect a good bloody mary. I do! And I’m so glad they bring so many people joy. But I’m personally not a fan and here’s why: If I wanted to have vegetables for breakfast, I would chew them. There’s something slightly off-putting to me about cold, savory beverages in general, but especially as something you traditionally drink during the first meal of your day. It’s more or less gazpacho, isn’t it? And I don’t really think gazpacho accompanies any of my go-to brunch orders well. Give me bitter teas or sparkly mimosas or drinking vinegars over vodka-spiked tomato juice any day.
—Kate Welsh, Associate Editor
All the Horseradish, Please
When I was a kid I hated the smell and general concept of bloody marys. I'd see them in airports resting on wet napkins and gag. Now, after years of drinking them, I have some opinions. Nothing should be in a bloody mary that you don’t want to soak in tomato juice and then eat. If you want to eat a hot dog bun that’s mushy with bloody mary mix, then by all means do it. You’re a lovable freak and I’m curious about how you turned out this way and who taught you how to live, but go for it. If you don’t want to worry about getting bloody mary on a hot dog then do not put a hot dog inside a bloody mary. “But it’s way up high on a skewer,” you say, “so it won’t get wet. I’ll eat it real quick or dismantle the thing and put the hot dog off to the side.” Whatever. If you want to deconstruct a food tower before enjoying a drink, sure. Do what brings you happiness. I don’t know. I like olives in mine. That’s it. No pepperoni stick. No soft-shell crab. Not even celery. While I don't like cheese-curd scaffolding over a bloody mary, I do like seeing new and exciting mixes. Some spots in New York will add a splash of Guinness. It’s really nice. Pok Pok uses fish sauce in their bloody mary. That’s cool too. My main rule is that every single bloody mary should have enough horseradish so it looks like a pillow exploded inside the drink and there are millions of tiny feathers floating everywhere.
—Ryan Grim, Editor