Drink Your Vegetables

Finding she had accidentally transcended the Bloody Mary, our cocktail writer got inspired by the possibilities of veggie juices.

Few things are not quite perfect yet beyond improvement, like the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup or Annie's white-cheddar mac 'n' cheese. The Bloody Mary is a drink that ain't broke and doesn't need fixing. But one Sunday morning, I accidentally transcended it. I found myself without tomato juice, and a trip to the store would have killed the brunch vibe. So I threw a giant can of Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes into a blender and used the purée to make Bloody Marys with the standard Worcestershire, celery salt, and horseradish. The cocktail went ass over teakettle—it was September in a glass. The organic Mary might be too expensive to make a habit, but it was a doable treat for a few friends. The incident spawned an idea—the juice bar—that has been bugging me for a decade. If you've partaken in the cucumber-and-gin cocktails floating around town, you've had a taste of the concept. Have you ever looked at canned tomato juice? I wouldn't touch the stuff without vodka and copious amounts of spice. Doesn't it follow that a better juice would make a better cocktail, not to mention a lesser hangover? One of my signature drinks came out of this vegetable obsession. The Carrot Bloodied contains pepper vodka and the freshest carrot juice possible, mixed with celery salt, ground coriander, ponzu (or soy) sauce, and your favorite hot sauce. Naked Juice and Odwalla brands of carrot juice both taste very fresh; if you're making enough for a party, Trader Joe's sells its house brand of carrot juice in larger sizes. I use Marie Sharp's No. 2 Hot (www.mariesharps-bz.com) because it's a carrot-based habanero sauce, and skip the Worcestershire—it's too much for carrots. I won't give you proportions for the Carrot Bloodied: Telling someone how to make a Bloody Mary is like telling them how they should take their coffee. Some of my other favorite juices to use with the fairer spirits (vodka, gin, rum, and tequila) are Odwalla's Carrot-Orange-Apple and the Aloe or Aronia Berry juices from Trader Joe's. Some Whole Foods stores also sell fresh juices. But the best store-bought juice for cocktail making is from Bolthouse Farms (www.bolthouse.com). No other juice company matches its impossibly fresh flavors. The 10-variety "Vedge" blend—tomatoes, celery, peppers, and more—doesn't just contain two vegetables more than V-8; drinking a glass is like bingeing in someone's garden. The Bolthouse Green Goodness—apple, spinach, wheatgrass, kiwi, and spirulina—is legal liquid stimulation. It has told me it likes Hornitos tequila best. I've found there's something about tequila that just makes spirulina taste better. Celery and gin? Apple, beet, and tequila? Explore what vitamins you could introduce into your cocktails. info@seattleweekly.com

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