There's a debate over whether the Bloody Mary turned 75 in 2006, 2008 or 2009—which means this year, it's either 79, 80 or 82. Regardless, at some point, someone came up with the ideal mix of savory, sweet, tart, spicy and booze. And, with tomato juice and the right garnishes, it's arguably the healthiest way to get buzzed.
My fave Bloody Mary is the one at Fish Market on Harbor Drive. Garnished with a prawn, olives, celery and a pickled green bean, it's a meal in a class with a nice amount of heat. Want to make a Bloody Mary from scratch? Good luck—at least that's been my experience. My tries were drinkable, but lacked a certain something. Option 2: Buy a mix—but which one? My shopping ground rules were simple: Little to no artificial ingredients and (relatively) low sodium content. Here are three good options.
Ballast Point Bloody Mary Premium Cocktail Mix: $5.99 (available at Bottlecraft). This is my favorite. If you can't handle spicy, this isn't for you. If you can, you'll be pleasantly surprised by this one's bite. Let me repeat: It's not for the weak. "Kicks ass," is how my husband put it. The fact that Ballast Point's a homeboy, born and raised, makes this one even better.
Tres Agaves Bloody Maria Mix: $9.99 (available at BevMo). I was drawn in by "organic" on the label and by Tres Agaves' claim to be the first Bloody Mary mix made "to complement tequila's bold flavor." Indeed, it didn't work too well with vodka—not bad, but not great. Tequila, however, brought out the flavor. Tres Agaves is light on heat, so it's a good option for folks who prefer something milder.
Stu's This Is Bloody Mary: $9 (available at Pigment). Stu's is a Chicago-based purveyor of pickles and Bloody Mary mixes. I thought my husband, who loves dill pickles, would like this one, but he found the subtle pickle flavor off-putting. The directions call for three parts tomato juice and vodka to one part Stu's. To mellow out the pickle taste, I made it with four parts tomato juice and quite liked it. Culinary nerds will dig this one: It's got an interesting lineup of ingredients. Vegetarians, however, should stay away—ingredients include anchovies.