Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cocktails You Need To Know, Vol. 1

Let's face it-- if you're gonna hold your own behind the stick, there are a few drinks that you should absolutely know... and make your own. And I'm not talking about Jack-and-Cokes or Vodka Sodas here. If it's on the rocks or mixes with a single ingredient... or if 'mixing' it denotes cracking open a bottle or pulling a tap, it's not rocket science.

No, I'm talking about cocktails here. And specifically, cocktails that any aspiring bartender needs to know if they're going to step behind the bar. These are the drinks that any interviewer is going to ask you if you know, and if you blow 'em away with your answer... well, all the better for you!

The first of these that we'll go over today is the ultimate daytime drink and hangover cure. It is a cocktail that every bartender has a recipe for.


Classic Recipe
Glass: Highball
2 oz. Vodka
1 dash Lemon Juice
4 dashes of Salt
2 dashes Black Pepper
2 dashes Cayenne Pepper
3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
Top up with Tomato Juice
Garnish: Lemon Wedge, Celery Stalk
Stir all ingredients lightly to mix and serve over ice.
This drink originated at Harry's New York Bar in Paris around 1920. Fernand Petiot, the originator of the drink, gave the above recipe in an interview for New York Magazine in 1964.
Note: There is no Tabasco Sauce and no Horseradish in Petiot's recipe. Those bartenders who are throwing Tabasco Sauce/horseradish into their Marys should duly note its lack of presence here. I'm not saying don't tool around with your own recipes; but I find both abrasive and don't use either in my Marys. I strongly recommend you do the same.

Bartenders typically guard their Mary recipes... but since I was inspired to create my own Mary recipe from a fellow bartender's suggestions and inspiration, I see no reason not to include my own recipe here. Enjoy!

Jake's Bloody Mary Recipe
Glass: Highball
2 oz. Citron Vodka
1 dash Lemon Juice
1 dash Olive Brine
2 dashes of Salt
2 dashes White Pepper
2 dashes Cayenne Pepper
5 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
Top up with Tomato Juice
Garnish: Lemon Wedge, Two Jumbo Shrimp
Stir all ingredients lightly to mix and serve over ice.

My variation holds true to the original recipe pretty well. Cayenne instead of Tabasco, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and of course the tomato base. I add a couple of extra dashes of Worcestershire and the Olive Brine to give the cocktail a bit more of a savory edge. I use the white pepper because of a little chef's secret: White Pepper won't show up in your drink... or in your teeth for that matter.

The 'Shrimp Effect' is largely a tip of the hat to a bartender who I met in England when I was cutting my teeth at my first bar gig at SMART Bar in London. His insistence that I make the Mary my own, and that every bartender should have their own take on the classic recipe, are my reasons for posting this article.

This recipe is a hit every time I pull it out and dust it off, but can take up to three minutes to make if the ingredients (like the shrimp) aren't handy and need to be brought up or defrosted.
I made a few of these during a slow afternoon a few weeks ago at Hudson Bar & Books. By the time the night had picked up and my bar was two deep, a pair of ladies who'd been savoring my Marys while it was slow sauntered back in, and lo and behold, they wanted more. When their round came up for the girls, suddenly everyone next to them took one look at the crustacean-topped savory highballs and insisted on their own. I mixed seventeen Marys that night-- and ran a bar that was slammed at the same time!
Till Next Week... Happy Shaking!


  1. I really like your spin on the traditional! Looks like it'd make a stellar cocktail and appetizer at a party.

  2. It's true... it really is a meal in itself. :)