When it comes to a great Bloody Mary, some things are subjective: what you should add to it (an entire buffet vs. the minimalist approach of one celery stalk), the type and level of spice, a peppery rim—they're all reasons many restaurants sport a Make Your Own Bloody Mary bar. (Because, honestly, you do you.)
But the *perfect* Bloody Mary? It just might exist—and if it does, you know damn well we're going to find it.
We journeyed far and wide, and finally landed on the doorstep of famed Rainbow Room Executive Chef Robert Aikens, who holds the title of "Most Magnificent Mary" winner from the Sacramento Tomato Juice, Finlandia Vodka Bloody Mary Contest. Translation? If anybody's gonna have the ultimate recipe, it's this guy.
Aikens used cucumber, lemon, and Worcestershire, combined with Sacramento Tomato Juice and Finlandia Vodka for his award-winning drink. But perhaps the biggest game-changer? Old Bay Seasoning.
"My secret was the combination of a cucumber with Sacramento Tomato Juice, Finlandia Vodka, and Old Bay seasoning. I boosted the tomato flavor even more by adding some Redpack Tomato Paste," says Aikens. The recipe for the Most Magnificent Mary Winner can be seen below. Not for nothing—he also added a crab leg. It just goes with the Old Bay, for obvious reasons. Here, how to make it at home.
Robert Aikens Bloody Mary Mix:
6 cups of Sacramento tomato juice
2 cups vodka of choice
1/2 cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp and 1/2 tsp of Tabasco
3 tbsp of tomato paste
6 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
5 dashes of Angostura bitters
1/2 cups and 6 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp of fresh milled black pepper
1 tbsp of celery salt
1 tbsp and 2 tsp of old bay seasoning
1/4 cup of creamed horseradish
1 1/2 tbsp fresh grated horseradish
Place the cucumber and tomato paste in a blender and puree with 4 cups of the tomato juice till smooth, then pour into a bowl and whisk in the rest of the ingredients. Garnish with a celery stick and ¼ pickle wedge on a pick spike with olives, cherry tomato, a lemon slice, and an optional crab leg. Makes approximately 9 cups.
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Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.
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