5 ways to tweak the Bloody Mary

When you're hankering for a Caesar south of the border, satisfy your craving with these tips.

Photo by hanspetermeyer.ca on Flickr
Photo by hanspetermeyer.ca on Flickr

When we Canadians are itching for a quick getaway, we usually look to our neighbours to the south for inspiration — whirlwind drink-fest in Vegas, relaxation by the pool in Palm Springs, shopping in New York, or riding the slopes in Colorado. These short trips do almost everything to hit our refresh buttons. Almost.

Canadians love Caesars and have a strong national pride for the Calgary-born drink. Most attempts to order the cocktail outside of Canada are answered with blank stares or explanations of what we were trying to order: Bloody Marys, because more than likely, you won’t be able to order the tangy, spicy, Clamato and vodka-based beverage beyond Canada’s border (or if you can, it’s a subpar version of what it should be). No! The Bloody Mary is the ugly step-sibling to the Caesar, made with thick, sweet tomato juice. It's just not the same.

We get it: the thought of shellfish water-enhanced tomato juice could be off-putting, but don’t knock it until you try it.

So, how do we cope with our hangovers on vaca? We take matters into our own hands, and spruce up the Bloody Mary with the following five tips (assuming you have a mini kitchen to play with).

Switch up the booze

Traditionally, both the Caesar and the Bloody Mary are vodka-based, but sometimes, it’s fun to stray from tradition. Try experimenting with gin, tequila or even bourbon. We’ve heard rumours about the bourbon Bloody Mary being one of United States' best-kept secrets, aside from where Elvis is hiding, of course.

Play with hot sauce

Worcestershire sauce is irreplaceable, but try substituting Tabasco for hot sauce with different intensities, brands and flavours. Try sauces made from habanero, jalapeno, serrano, chipotle, cayenne, Thai and scotch bonnet (holy hot!) that you might not find on the shelves back home.

Mix up the rimmer

A good rim job (that's what we're going to call it) is a quintessential component to both drinks. There are many pre-made alternatives on the market, but you can make your own blend by playing around with spices like cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic powder, Old Bay seasoning, Montreal steak spice and flavoured salts (habanero, lime, rosemary, fennel).

Alter the tomato juice

If you absolutely cannot find Clamato, add a little extra tang or acidity to tomato juice or V8 with a splash of pickle juice, clam juice, olive juice, hot pepper juice, extra citrus or even your favourite IPA.

Go crazy with garnishes

Bars and restaurants have taken garnishes to a new level, each of them trying to out-garnish the competition. We ‘ve seen the standard celery, pickled beans, dill pickles, pickled asparagus olives and pepperoncini skewer; but now, we’re seeing more outrageous mini-meals like bacon, pepperoni, horseradish, lobster or crab claws, shrimp, cheese, pickled eggs, and even mini sandwiches like sliders, grilled cheese, perogies and onion rings. We might as well just skip lunch or dinner.

Like our beloved Caesar, a Bloody Mary is a blank canvas. Time to get creative (until you come back to Canada, then it's just the Caesar)!