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Last year, my boss came to me with some very tragic news. News that shocked me to my core, and left me standing there, unable to speak, barely able to breathe.
“We’re going to start serving brunch on the weekends.”
Now, brunch is a tough prospect for any bar manager. The crates of oranges that need to be stocked in an already-full cooler. The cases of prosecco. And the dreaded Bloody Mary conundrum.
Offering a Bloody Mary at brunch presents the cautious bar manager with a bit of a pickle, no pun intended. Here’s the problem: Ideally each Bloody Mary would be made to order, à la minute, from scratch. But doing so would be far too time-consuming when the bar is busy. We want people to have drinks in their hands quickly. Doing so makes people happy, and we’re trying to be in the business of making people happy.
So, the obvious solution is to make a huge batch of Bloody Mary mix, have the bartender throw it on top of some vodka in a pint glass, and there you go, right? Well, the question is how much to make. If we make too little, the bartender ends up having to make them to order anyway. If we make too much, then we’ve got a bunch of Bloody Mary mix getting dumped at the end of each Sunday, because lord knows that shit ain’t gonna be fresh a week later (I’m looking at you, half of the sports bars in the country). And that ends up being a huge waste of money. And we’re also trying to be in the business of making money here.
And what about the Caesar? I happen to love the national drink of Canada, and wanted to offer it on my menu as well. But of course, nobody could predict how Portlanders would take to zesty clam-flavored tomato drink (turns out they love it) and I didn’t want to have yet another batch of mix to throw down the drain every week
What to do, what to do… And then it hit me: if we took the majority of the labor-intensive components and separated them from the tomato or tomato-based ingredients, we’d be left with something so salty and acidic that it would be (refrigerator) shelf stable for well over a week. The result is a mix that’s easy to make, totally versatile, and turns making a Bloody Mary or Caesar a simple three-ingredient process.
Bloody Mary Premix
Makes one 750ml Bottle
12 oz lemon juice
12 oz Worcestershire sauce
1½ tsp finely-ground black pepper
1½ tsp celery salt
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
Mix all ingredients together and bottle. To make a Caesar or Bloody Mary, combine 1 oz premix, 2 oz vodka, and 4 oz tomato juice or Clamato in a pint glass, mix well, garnish and serve.
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My name is Jeff Morgenthaler and I'm the bar manager at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon.
I've been tending bar since 1996 and writing about it since 2004. I started tending bar while getting my degree in Interior Architecture, and slowly I came to the conclusion that bartending was what I really loved, and that I might as well drop everything and focus on being a professional bartender. Over the years I have strived, both behind the bar and with this website, to elevate the experience of having a drink from something mundane to something more culinary.
The writing I do here is intended as a work in progress. My recipes are like my opinions: they are constantly being revised and refined as I work them through my mind and my fingers. Comments and participation are encouraged, so please don't feel the need to tread lightly here.