Hail Mary

Searching for the quintessential hangover cure? Get back to the basics with a perfect bloody mary.

By Tom Colligan May 19, 2009

THIS MONTH OFFERS a great many reasons to turn to drink: New Year’s merrymaking, the arrival of last month’s credit card bill, one’s crumbling faith in the integrity of our nation’s electoral process. And while we don’t exactly advocate seeking solace in the bottom of the glass, should you wake to a skull-ringing hangover, we advise 1) penitently swearing off alcohol and 2) immediately seeking the extraordinarily restorative effects of a well-crafted bloody mary.

Should you be in need of such a palliative this very moment, proceed directly to the Florida Room on N Killingsworth. Here, you’ll find the titular cocktail at the self-dubbed “Church of the Bloody Mary” served in the finest of style, with just the right amount of juice, spice and alcoholic punch to return your eyelids to their pre-hangover aperture.

On the other hand, if you have the wherewithal, you could be a hero to a host of afflicted guests by whipping up a pitcher at home. Florida Room co-owner Patty Earley, who refined her own soul-healing recipe after 18 years behind countless area bars, offers the following guidance: “It’s the body of the drink that’s the most important. It shouldn’t feel like you have salsa in your mouth. Store-bought tomato juices vary in thickness—the cheaper supermarket brands are lighter, and actually make a better drink.”

This call for simplicity shouldn’t rule out creativity—but beware of ideas that run too far afield. Earley suggests starting with a tried-and-true, basic recipe, and then seeking inspiration in your favorite flavors, like, say, a puréed chipotle. Garnishes that go beyond the classic lime wedge, olive and celery stalk are the easiest way to make the drink your own, but tinkering with infused vodka, gin or even tequila can yield delicious results with only slightly modified demon-chasing properties.

For Earley’s perfect bloody mary, combine and whisk 1 46-ounce can of plain tomato juice, 2 tbsp each of black pepper, lemon pepper, celery salt, chili-garlic sauce, Worcestershire, grated horseradish and ¼ cup lemon juice in a pitcher. Fill a pint glass with ice, then add 1 ½ ounces vodka (or other clear spirit), and top with bloody mary mix. Season to taste and garnish as you like. Mix, modify and repeat as necessary until spring.

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