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Have fun with your bloodys' spirits and garnishes
Have fun with your bloodys' spirits and garnishes
Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris’s Bloody Mary

NPH on the joys of the tomato-y libation.

Neil Patrick Harris is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wondercade. In his spare time he also acts — fairly well, too, as his Tony and Emmy Awards can attest.

April 4, 2023 1:02 am

So, here are my thoughts on Bloody Marys. The Bloody Mary is a delightfully simple drink because it relies on, essentially, two edicts: personal preference and garnishes.

You have a tomato juice base, but if you only mix that with hooch, it doesn’t taste great, nor is the consistency very appealing. So add a little Worcestershire sauce. Rounds it out. Provides a bit of smokiness. Add some Tabasco, and increase the spice. Add a little horseradish — increase the depth of flavor. Add a little fresh ground pepper. Now you’ve got yourself a solid foundation. Like it spicier? Add more of whatever you prefer. You do you. Because as Meghan Trainor reminds us all, it’s all about the taste, ‘bout the taste, no treble.

Man with bloody mary drink and bacon relish
A bloody good drink, if I say so myself
Neil Patrick Harris

So, you got a good base together that you like…it’s time to add a spirit. Traditionally, one would add vodka to make a Bloody Mary, but really, any clear spirit will work. I’m sure there are actual names for each spirit’s Bloody, but I’m gonna make up my own. If you add gin, you could call it a Bloody Gary. If you add a blanco tequila, you could call it a Bloody…HarryBarry? Nah. I’m trying to think of something in Spanish…[long pause]…Maria. Boom. De nada.

If you’re a non-drinker, the Bloody Mary is a fantastic choice, because there are plenty of spirit-free, botanical-based beverages that work beautifully with the tomato base. Seedlip makes a great one, so does Amass. The Optimist Botanicals: Bright has jasmine, green mandarin, lavender…it’s an amazing flavor additive whether you’re drinking it with alcohol or not. Secret ingredient. Can’t recommend it enough.

Now you get to move on to things to put inside the glass. Consider them amuse-bouches. Palate cleansers. Snacks. Extra appetizers. Okay, clearly you need a celery stick. I think they’re called stalks. Some guy was following me around, and wouldn’t leave me alone, and kept mentioning celery. I think he was stalking me. De nada. Celery adds a nice crunch. Then you can add some olives. I recommend them without seeds. I’ve never understood how seedless, pitted olives grow. It seems like it wouldn’t be allowed to happen that way in nature. A peperoncini is always nice — adds a little vinegar kick and, sometimes, spice. It’s the shishito of pickled peppers. What else? Oh, you definitely want to add some citrus. Limes are great. Balances out the deep-seated tomato acid with some bright citric acid. Squirt that up in your business. And by business, I mean glass.

But really, you can go nuts. Just add stuff. How about a piece of bacon? I’d advise that you cook it first, it displays better that way. You could also do poached shrimp. Although honestly, if you’re having a Bloody Mary bar for a group brunch, the idea of a bowl filled with shrimp seems kind of smelly. But some people like them some shrimp. Pickled vegetables would be great. You could do a sprig of rosemary. You could do a Hershey bar. You never know, it could be interesting. A Pixy stick. Seems like it might dissolve quickly. But I’d go for edible things, as opposed to a ruler or a steak knife. Choose anything that’s going to make it look bushy and fun. Like porn stars in the ‘80s.

So, yeah. That’s your Bloody Mary. Give people lots of options, let them go crazy. Have a pitcher of tomato juice, base spices, clear spirits and botanicals, an array of garnishes. Maybe some fun instructions. Oh, did I mention Pop Rocks? I shouldn’t, that’s a terrible idea. But you never know.

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