Of all the cocktails, Bloody Marys are the weirdest. Most mixed drinks are sweet, strong or fruity. A Bloody Mary is more closely related to shrimp cocktail sauce than to any of its boozy brethren.
I learned to love Bloody Marys at Baltimore Airport. Back when I was running a graphic design business, an employee (who was also a longtime friend) and I somehow managed to miss the exit to the airport — and our flight back to Houston. We decided to kill time in one of the airport bars. My friend confessed her love of Bloody Marys after looking at the cocktail list. I decided to give one of the weird, savory things a try, and it's been one of my favorite cocktails ever since.
Fortunately, hanging out at Hubbell & Hudson Bistro is nothing like lingering in a nondescript bar at Baltimore's airport. It’s open and airy. The staff is friendly and the plates of delectable brunch-time fare are huge. Nothing goes better alongside a big Belgian waffle topped with fried eggs and spicy chicken than a Bloody Mary.
Vodka Infusion for Bloody Mary
When crafting a Bloody Mary, effort can be put into making a mix from scratch — or instead that effort can be put into making a spicy infused vodka that can be used for several drinks. That's what Hubbell & Hudson does. Also, the color-filled jar looks darn pretty sitting on a counter. For the Bloody Mary mix, Hubbell & Hudson uses Zing Zang, one of the tastiest premixed ones available. It's savory, not sweet like so many other bottled mixes.
The recipe below has been scaled down for home use but will still last several Sundays — or one wild brunch party. If you have wild brunch parties, why don't you ever invite us over?
One “handle” or 1.75 liter bottle of Monopolowa Vodka
One jalapeño pepper, sliced
One lemon cut into wedges
One lime cut into wedges
Two carrots cut into one-inch chunks
15 black peppercorns
Five stalks of celery cut into one- or two-inch pieces (include the leaves)
Five Thai chili peppers, sliced
Half of a cucumber, sliced into half-inch thick rounds
Five garlic cloves, peeled
Half of a yellow bell pepper, sliced into quarter-inch wide slices. Discard pith and seeds.
Two sliced shallots
Half of an onion roughly chopped into half-inch chunks
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The hard part, of course, is chopping all the vegetables. Once that’s done, everything else is easy. Simply throw all the ingredients (except for the vodka) into a big glass jar that can hold at least three liters. Cover all with the vodka and let the infusion sit for at least three days. The flavor will change as the infusion rests. Once the vegetables turn pale or the vodka has taken on the desired flavors, feel free to discard the vegetables. Strain the infusion through cheesecloth and funnel it into a clear bottle or jar for storage in the refrigerator, where it should keep for a few months.
The Hubbell & Hudson Bloody Mary
Zing Zang Bloody Mary mix
Two ounces of vodka infusion
Pour two ounces of the vodka infusion over ice cubes in a Collins glass. Top off with Zing Zang. Add a straw, garnish with any desired olives, a lime wedge or pickles on a cocktail pick, and serve.