I love a good Bloody Mary, and I’ve drunk and made quite a few looking for the perfect version. The drinks I made with a friend’s homemade garden-ripe tomato juice tops the list but it still wasn’t perfect.
Then, somewhat unexpectedly, I had the best Bloody Mary of my life. In fact, it was so good that I couldn’t stop thinking about it
A few weeks ago, I was at brunch, and I ordered a Bloody Mary (with tequila), but the otherwise excellent restaurant was out of my favorite tequila. They did, however, have Del Maguey Vida Mezcal in house and so, I ordered my Bloody Maria with Vida. Vida de San Luis Del Rio is an artisanal, organic mezcal from Del Maguey. It is a single-village mezcal designed for mixing, and it is an easy and approachable introduction to mezcal.
If you have yet to try mezcal, substituting the base spirit in your favorite Bloody Mary—or other cocktail—is a great way to get your feet wet according to Eva Pelczer, Director, Brand Education at Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal.
Mezcal is an agave-based distilled spirit similar to tequila. Tequila is a type of mezcal just like Bourbon is a type of whiskey. You may have heard that all tequilas are mezcal but not all mezcals are tequila.
Like tequila, mezcal is produced from agave which is a desert plant that has more than 100 different species. In the case of tequila, it must be made with Blue Agave, where mezcal can be made with a variety of different agave plants. Vida is made from the Espadin Agave in the Mexican state of Oaxaca where 85-90% of the Mezcal is made.
There is a misconception is that mezcal is a smoky tequila but “it is not smoky tequila; mezcal is complex and rich in flavor,” said Pelczer. Because people are hesitant to try mezcal on its own, Del Maguey realized that there needed to be a mezcal geared toward cocktail making. That mezcal is Vida which was launched in 2010 and is widely distributed and available in all 50 states.
“Cocktails are a great bridge [to drinking mezcal] and we just need (someone) to walk over and open the door so we can introduce them to the wonderful world of mezcal. Vida is so mixable—it has lots of body and beautiful acid at the end,” explained Pelczer.
Even though I happened on the cocktail by accident, I couldn’t agree more. Vida was such a great switch that it will now be my go-to spirit for Bloodies. The roasty toasty slightly smoky mezcal with notes of vanilla, citrus and cinnamon is bold enough to stand up to the tomato juice, spice, Worcestershire and pickled vegetables but not overwhelm it. It was the most balanced Bloody Mary that I’ve ever tasted. One sip and I was amazed at how seamlessly the mezcal integrated into the drink in a way that vodka seldom does.
Since I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I decided to make my own. I started with old-fashioned tomato juice and thinned it out with key lime juice and pickle brine. For spice and flavor, I added Worcestershire and Jalapeno Tabasco to make my base, but you could also use your favorite Bloody Mary mix.
Part of the fun of a Bloody Mary are the garnishes! I had fun with them and used garlic-stuffed olives, pickled okra and Chicharrones. I was lucky enough to have a bag of 4505 Chile Limon Chicharrones made with the Mexican seasoning Tajin, and they could not have been more perfect—crunchy, and tangy with lime and a little heat from the chile. I think I’ve finally found my perfect Bloody Mary.
Vita Bloody Mary
The Bloody Mary is finally made perfect with an upgrade of Vida mezcal.
Makes 1 drink
1/3 cup tomato juice
2-3 healthy splashes of Jalapeño Tabasco
2 teaspoons pickle juice
2 teaspoons Key West key lime juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ounce Vida Mezcal
1 tall glass of ice
Slice of lime
4-inch Bamboo Skewer
- Mix tomato juice, Tabasco, pickle juice, key lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and Vita Del Maguey Single-Village Mezcal in a mixing glass or liquid measuring cup.
- Pour over a tall glass filled with ice and place the lime on the side of the glass.
- Thread olives, okra and Chicharrones on the bamboo skewer and place over the glass.
- Enjoy Immediately!
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