If you're lucky, the end of summer can feel like an attack of the heirloom tomatoes. If you have a garden or a CSA, and you've made sauces and salsas already, face the challenge of too many tomatoes with this bright retooling of a classic cure-all.
Irresistible, iconic, the Bloody Mary is as complex as it is contagious. Send one out across a packed restaurant at brunch and in no time another fifteen will be ordered. For a bartender, it's a blessing and a curse. Although easy to prep in mass and pour out in multiple, a thick sluice of swampy tomato mix has taken down many a brunch service. My recipe here doesn't stray far from the classic but is built for appreciating the fresh bounty of late summer.
Green Zebra, beefsteak, or Yellow Valencia tomatoes are not only satisfyingly meaty but carry a zinging acidity. If you aren't growing your own and and will need to purchase tomatoes for this recipe, look for the most delicate tomatoes. If they are tough and have a high starch content you may need to add extra acid and salt.
If you have a fancy juicer, you can turn your tomato overload into Bloody Mary mix in no time, but don't despair if you lack this primo piece of equipment—in fact it yields a rather thin juice that separates quickly. You can easily make tomato juice with a blender or food processor, the way Michael Dietsch taught us. Fresh horseradish and juicy lemons help complete the cocktail.
Why Make it From Scratch?
Most storebought Bloody Mary mix is a little thick and sodium-heavy. Nothing preserved can rival the luminous color and taste of just squeezed heirloom tomatoes. I made my mix with mostly red beefsteaks but it would be fun to dazzle your guests with a bright yellow pitcher pressed from a batch of Dixie Gold Giants.
Use this recipe to make a classic Mary or a Spicy Bloody Maria with homemade habanero tequila. I also like it with a dash of caraway-spiced aquavit.