Ernest Hemingway didn’t invent Autumn’s most iconic cocktail–that distinction is rumored to belong to Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot, a Parisian bartender looking for ways to dress up vodka for Russian immigrants and American expatriots on the lam from Prohibtion–but the iconic American author, and legendary drinker, has been inextricably tied to the Bloody Mary thanks to a recipe he concocted and included in a letter to a friend in 1947.
Autumn is, in my mind, incomplete without spending at least one brisk, sunny weekend morning outdoors, on the patio or perhaps tailgating before a game, with a tall tumbler of this most delicious elixir in one’s hand. It’s an excellent complement to hearty slab of good, crusty bread and a chunk of assertive cheese. Do not, under any circumstances, pour this drink over crushed ice. Any Bloody Mary is better than none, but the Hemingway recipe is definitive.
Hemingway Bloody Mary Recipe
To a large pitcher (anything smaller is “worthless”) add:
1 chunk of ice (the biggest that will fit)
1 pint of vodka
1 pint chilled tomato juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 jigger fresh lime juice
Pinch celery salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch black pepper
Several drops of Tabasco
“Keep on stirring and taste it to see how it is doing. If you gets it too powerful weaken with more tomato juice. If it lacks authority add more vodka.”
A word about Vodka: there is very little correlation between taste and price with Vodka. That said, a Bloody Mary is certainly not the place to dump your expensive bottles, or your throat-burning cheapies that scorch a path down your gullet like a can of flaming Sterno. I recommend Plantation, or Luksusowa–both nice balances of price and smoothness.
Some notes: 1.)You’ve undoubtedly seen Bloody Marys served with celery slices, which is fine but not necessary if you add the celery salt. Unless you like celery a lot, which I do, although I’m still ambivalent. A spring of crushed celery leaf would add better flavor. I’m of the opinion the celery just gets in the way. 2.) The addition of extraneous ingredients–like gin, sherry, vermouth or, gods help us, bacon or clam juice* is a sacrilege. 3.)Large pieces of ice are preferable because they melt more slowly (less surface area) and take longer to water down your drink. It is rumored that Hemingway used a tennis ball can to make ice cubes for his pitchers. 4) In a pinch, lemon juice can replace lime juice. 5) Using V-8 instead of Tomato Juice is an interesting variation.
*Adding clam juice, or substituting Clamato juice makes a different drink, the Bloody Caesar.