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There are few ways to convince me to eat vegetables for breakfast.
And even fewer to get me to drink them.
But add a little heat-infused booze, and suddenly a sad-looking cup of tomato juice is transformed into the perfect brunch accessory.
I’ve never been much of a Bloody Mary fan; if I choose to drink at a mid-morning brunch, I generally lean towards sweet mimosas. The thick tomato and horseradish reminds me far too much of a dip for shrimp cocktail.
But then I discovered the freshness of home-pressed tomato juice.
The bright combination of sweet garden tomatoes and cool cucumbers creates a refreshing cocktail that in no way makes me feel like I’m drinking from a raw bar. The balance of cooling foods with the hot peppers and horse radish can really help tone down too much spice from hot ingredients, if you go just a tad bit too far with this recipe.
Spiked with a Serrano pepper-infused vodka, this drink is not for the faint of heart! It takes 4-7 days for the alcohol to infuse, so you’ve got to commit to this recipe nearly a week ahead of time.
Of course, you could always purchase a pre-made pepper vodka – or even stick with the straight stuff – but we think our way is a lot more fun!
- 375 milliliters vodka
- 1 Serrano pepper
- 16-ounce glass jar
- For individual cocktails:
- 1 1/2 ounces infused vodka
- 4 ounces tomato juice
- 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce (for a vegan version, substitute soy sauce or vegan Worcestershire)
- 1/4 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- salt to taste
- 1/2 lime sliced in half again
- 8 ice cubes
- 1 stalk of celery, preferably an inner piece with leaves attached
- Slice the Serrano chili into thin rings.
- Pour the vodka into a 16-ounce glass jar, add the pepper slices, and close tightly.
- Let sit in a cool, dark place to infuse for 4-7 days, until the spice level is to your liking, then strain out the peppers.
- Pour the vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire, horseradish, paprika, and salt into a cocktail shaker.
- Squeeze the juice of 1/4 of a lime into the shaker, then add the ice. Put on the lid and shake to mix the ingredients.
- Pour (don’t strain) the drink and the ice into a highball glass. Garnish with celery and the remaining lime wedge.
Cooking by the Numbers…
To Infuse the Vodka:
Step One – Slice the Serrano
Slice the Serrano chili into thin rings. Be careful not to touch your eyes or your mouth after handling the pepper – it is very hot! If you prefer another sort, a habanero or red Thai chili for example, feel free to experiment!
If you’d like a bit of pepper flavor without the intensity of the heat, you can slice it lengthwise and scrape out the seeds before cutting the flesh into smaller pieces to infuse.
The seeds and pith of the peppers contains a lot of heat, so be careful very careful when handling them. If you have food-safe gloves at home, it wouldn’t hurt to use them here!
Step Two – Combine
Pour the vodka into a 16-ounce glass jar. I like to use canning jars because they create a tight seal.
Add the peppers and screw on the lid.
Step Three – Infuse
Let the vodka infuse for 4-7 days. The longer you wait, the hotter and more flavorful it will be.
I like to let mine go for a full week because I like it super hot. After the fourth day, you can taste the vodka daily to determine when it is to your liking.
When you’re content with the infusion, strain out the peppers. Your vodka is ready to use!
To Make Your Cocktail:
Step One – Pour
Pour 1 1/2 ounces of vodka, four ounces of tomato juice, Worcestershire, horseradish, paprika, and salt into a cocktail shaker.
For the tomato juice, we highly recommend that you use a freshly pressed juice. The difference in flavor is truly remarkable. Don’t be tempted by the ease of a can or jug in your grocery store aisle!
The savory flavor added by the Worcestershire sauce adds a lot of complexity to this drink. But don’t feel limited if you are a vegan or vegetarian. Either use vegan Worcestershire sauce (Annie’s Homegrown Organics makes a great one) or soy sauce instead. Both will add that umami layer.
If you’d like a stronger drink, go ahead and add more vodka.
Most Bloody Mary recipes call for a hot sauce like Tabasco. Because of the heat of the vodka, I opt not to add any. However if you don’t have the patience to let your vodka infuse (or you want to kick the spice up even more!) you can add a dash or two to taste.
Step Two – Squeeze
Squeeze in the juice of 1/4 of a lime into the shaker, then add your ice.
Secure the lid of your shaker in place and shake, shake, shake. You want to make sure that your ingredients fully are mixed and chilled.
Step Three – Pour & Garnish
Pour your drink into a highball glass. While technically any type of glass will do, the highball allows you to see all of the bright colors and holds your garnish well.
Visual appeal adds more to your experience of flavor than you might think!
Make sure that you pour all of the components from your shaker into the glass. You don’t want to strain out the ice, or end up with horseradish stuck in your strainer.
Garnish with your remaining lime wedge. Cut a diagonal slice in the lime so that it rests nicely on the side of your cup. Run the sliced edge around the rim of the glass before resting it in place – this way you will both taste and smell a hint of lime with every sip, enhancing the flavor of your cocktail.
Add a sprig of celery as your final garnish. It’s best to use those in the center of the celery heart, as they are short enough to fit in the glass and are topped with a larger bunch of leaves. Again, the scent of these leaves while you sip will add extra depth of flavor to your drinking experience.
You can enjoy this savory cocktail any time of day – at your next brunch, or the next time you sit down with a plate of shrimp cocktail. You surely won’t confuse it with your dip.
What’s your favorite way to drink a Bloody Mary? Let us know in the comments below!
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.
3 thoughts on “Spice Things Up with this Pepper-Infused Bloody Mary”
Well, when it comes to my Bloody Mary, I do like them spicy and I do really enjoy the fresh cracked pepper that often time comes in it, and I will lick the rim. That said, this really does look like something that is right up my alley, especially because on a really tough day I know that I can just add a little more booze to it. In that sense, too, I bet that the spiciness helps to hide the alcohol flavor, which is a good thing for me. Thanks for sharing this.
I had no idea that you could actually infuse vodka, I have so many options now when it comes to this :o.
When I first read this recipe I thought that it would be kind of a waste of time to do our own tomato juice… but you definitely convinced me all through the post, most of the times things in general don’t taste that good as canned stuff, even if it can be more practical.
I’ll definitely try this out, thanks for sharing!
Oh, boy, here’s another favorite for my husband. I make a pretty mean one of these already, but this… this is just fantastic. Not only is this his favorite cocktail but also his favorite kind of pepper. It’s the only kind he’ll use in his homemade salsa. I guess I’m going to have to give this a try now.
Thanks (I think). Just kidding. He will really enjoy this. It will be a labor of love.