As a general rule I prefer my alcohol unadorned. I like beer. I like bourbon. I love tequila. And I drink them straight – no frills. Should I opt for a cocktail, I tend to go the savory route. I am no stranger to Dirty Martinis and I have been known to drag my loved ones across town for a good Bloody Mary.
Cocktail culture and the ubiquitous waxed mustaches that come with it can sometimes make me cringe, but despite the mustachioed men clad in ascots that are all-too-often behind the bar, I do appreciate the recent attention given to artisinal drinks. It adds another dimension to dining out, and well…who can complain about that?
A few weeks ago I had brunch at the Tasting Kitchen – our local go-to spot in Venice. Their brunch menu is fairly odd and unconventional, but what it lacks in omelets and pancakes it makes up for with chicken and waffles and a killer cocktail list. On that particular Sunday morning I ordered a celery based Bloody Mary which I have tried to recreate here.
In the restaurant version, celery juice, vodka, peppercorns and lime are shaken, strained and served up in a glass with salt and sumac on the rim. In my version, vodka is infused with peppercorns over night, shaken with celery juice and lime and served up in a glass with a tomato salt rim – a trick I accomplished with my fancy new dehydrator.
If you have a juicer, it is best to juice fresh celery right before you construct your cocktail. You can also puree it in a food processor and strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth. Should you have a dehydrator, but no tomatoes, use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I happen to also love arugula salt. And if you are less indulgent and/or neurotic than I am and happen not to have a dehydrator hiding in your cupboard just pour it in a glass and drink up.
deconstructed bloody mary
(makes 1 cocktail)
2 oz vodka, infused with 3 peppercorns overnight
1 oz celery juice
3/4 oz lime
tomato salt for rim (recipe follows)
Before you juice your lime, cut it in half and use the inside to moisten the rim of a cocktail glass. Dip the rim of your glass in tomato salt and set aside. In a cocktail shaker, combine peppercorn-infused vodka, celery juice and lime. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into prepared cocktail glass.
Cut as many tomatoes as you like into 1/4 inch rounds and dehydrate at 135 degrees F for 12 to 24 hours – until brittle. In a spice or coffee grinder grind the dehydrated tomatoes into a powder. Add salt to taste and whir a few times to combine. Use on the rim of a cocktail, sprinkle on buttered toast or add to pasta for a fresh tomato kick.