Hear me out. I recently read a book called Rules of Civility, about a clever young girl in 1930's Manhattan, who gets swept from her workaday typing job into the glamorous world of smoky jazz clubs, glitzy parties, and lavish vacations. She speaks in snappy noir bon mots, knows the best late-night diner in the city, and often, she ends her day by walking into her apartment and mixing herself a cocktail. All this conventional wisdom against drinking alone, and yet, our heroine Katy Kontent makes it feel so very right. I mean let's face it: drinking makes us happier and better-looking. Right?
It's kind of a Don Draper thing. And see how well that turned out? I really feel like it'd make my life better. I want in.
But, ugh. Stupid drinking comes at a cost. Despite all attempts to be Zen/French about it, I am in a constant battle with calories. And there's the issue of waking up useless the next day. And, if I'm gonna be honest, I don't actually see the point. Like, I'm alone, I get drunk, and then what? I lie on the couch watching TV just like I would have been anyway, only I fall asleep faster? I love to drink, but I do because it makes me more social.
Am I doomed to never experience the mystique? Is there no mystique? Seriously, can someone explain this to me?
Well, I've come to decide that my home cocktail making isn't going to be about the buzz, but the bite. And what drink typifies bite better than a Bloody Mary? I love a Bloody Mary: I like that it comes with nearly a meal of garnishes (did you know that the Bloody Mary at Bludso's comes with a bit of beef rib tip? Kind of amazing.) I like the horseradishy heat, and that it's completely savory. I love that it usually signifies a bit of luxury -- it's brunchday, and you're going large.*
In the priggish January atmosphere of cleanses and new beginnings and all that silliness, I'm afraid I've jumped on the bandwagon, taking a boozy indulgence and turn it into a boringly low-calorie snack. But the fact remains, it's delicious. And only as complicated as you want it to be. At it simplest, throw some ice into a glass, pour in tomato juice, and stir in a big gob of horseradish. Stop there, or go wild with additions: Old Bay, pickled veg (these beauties, perhaps?), smoked paprika (yum!), Worcestershire, celery salt, fiery hot sauce (anything from Tapatío to Sriracha), wasabi, fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Anything goes.
So, maybe I'm not cut out for solo drinking after all. Health and productivity are good things as well, right? I don't know. Not convinced.
The last time I made one of these, I added Worcestershire and a bit of truffle salt. It varies every time. You do as you please.
1 can tomato juice
1 Tbs horseradish
splash Worcestershire sauce (optional)
dash truffle salt (optional)
Add a few large ice cubes to a glass. Add tomato juice, horseradish, and Worcestershire; stir vigorously to combine. Sprinkle some truffle salt on top.
Makes 1 serving.
* I still dream about a Bloody Mary I had at beloved Prune in NYC. A group of friends (the UAFTP: United Angelenos for Transcontinental Playgoing, obvs) were in the city to see a play a favorite friend had written. Miraculously, our group of five was seated at tiny Prune at the height of brunch rush. We got our own weird table downstairs from the main dining room -- the only one there, just outside the kitchen. Two in the group had gotten engaged at Rockefeller Center the night before. The food was incredible. Spirits were high. And my Bloody Mary, picked from a menu of about 10 different ones, came in an oversized thin glass tumbler, with an entire garden of pickled vegetables, and came with a beer back in a tiny tumbler. Good memory. (bad hair.)