I initially drew up this recipe back in 2006 in efforts to accomplish two things:
1. To have something else to drink besides kosher wine and 2. Find another excuse to use my mother’s killer homemade horseradish (enjoying it solely atop gefilte fish was not going to suffice).
I was a fresh college grad at the time of the recipe’s inception and let’s just say my tastes were a little well, juvenile. I thought brunch was the greatest invention of all time (clearly this was before I had ever worked a brunch shift). And somehow the idea of waiting in line for $15 eggs was a non-issue. Why? Because we were in line for one reason: Bloody Marys. The bigger, the stronger, the taller the garnish the better. It wasn’t just a sorry excuse to drink your breakfast and salvage whatever buzz was still lingering from the night before, it was ART. Hungover drunk salty ART.
I decided to experiment with a batch for Passover cocktail hour. And as I began sketching out the proportions I realized how many seder plate items actually go into the drink. The homemade horseradish is your bitter herb (the texture also very similar to charoset), a celery or parsley garnish stands in for the karpas and savory worcestershire sauce hints at the robust flavor of a lamb shank.
I didn’t set out to make anything new or profound for my seder when I posted the recipe nearly 10 years ago. All I did (probably while hungover) was take the tastiest and saltiest parts of the Passover ritual, buzz them in a blender and call it a day. But then my mother re-posted it. Which doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal but she is also the ringleader of 7 siblings and works her days in a synagogue…so you can imagine the domino effect that soon followed.
Mixed up the day before and stirred over ice with a celery stick and a quick crack of black pepper, they have become as much a ritual as the dipping of parsley in salt water or even (gasp) a hot bowl of matzoh ball soup. No longer a salty, boozy beverage to chug, they are now my personal ode to spring. The drinks are a nod to the longer hours of the day, as the sun has yet to set when we break out the cocktail shaker. And I like the way my hands smell after handling the fresh herbs and wringing out ripe lemons. It is then that I start to day dream about my fire escape garden that will soon bring big aromatic shocks of green to my Brooklyn window. And let’s be real: nobody gets excited about passing carafes of Manischewitz down the dinner table line.
11th Plague Bloody Marys, 2015 edition.
Pared down for the adult who doesn’t have time to source out ridiculous and
hard-to-find brand name sauces and spices.
Yield: appx. 8 6-oz. cocktails
1 large bottle plain tomato or veggie juice
1/4 cup pickle brine (I use McClure’s but any brand will work)
1 1/2 tb. Worcestershire, soy or fish sauce (if using the latter, go slow)
1-2 tb. homemade horseradish
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
Hot chili sauce of choice
Dash of Old Bay or fish rub
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with celery or any fresh herb like dill or parsley
Optional next level garnish: deviled beitzah (egg)!
1. Juice and strain your citrus.
2. Combine all your ingredients. Shake the hell out of it. Allow to chill over night.
3. Strain well, adjust seasoning and add vodka to desired strength (I figure 1.5 oz. per drink/serving). Keep cold until ready to serve.