Horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, celery, and a whole lot of spice. Sounds like ideal breakfast fare, right? Wrong. Like cold, leftover pizza, the Bloody Mary as part of any breakfast or brunch meal is a tomato-flavored mistake.
Who wants to pair waffles, pancakes, or French toast with an olive garnish? When it comes to brunch, give me a sweet, bubbly Mimosa, or give me death.
Consider the Bloody Mary’s most popular use, as a late morning or afternoon hangover cure. It’s as if Bloody Mary, herself, has been telling us that she’s more of a lunch and dinner gal than a morning person. Want more proof? While the cocktail’s traditional garnishes of celery, olives, and pickles already scream “lunch,” the more recent trend of outrageous garnishes — such as lobster claws, fried chicken, and sandwiches — proves that the cocktail should never be drunk before 11:30, at the earliest.
Alejandro Lopez, founder and CEO of Toma Bloody Mary Mixers, drinks his Bloodies at night, and thinks you should, too.
Lopez says that people typically drink Bloody Marys with breakfast because they associate it as a hangover cure. “We don’t ever talk about it as a cure for a hangover,” he says. Instead, “We look at it as a high-end cocktail” that pairs with a variety of foods, he says
Lopez also believes drinkers are more experimental than they are given credit for. He’s served Toma-based cocktails at a variety of evening events — dressing the drink up by substituting vodka for tequila (a.k.a. a Bloody Maria), and adding lime juice and chocolate chili bitters to the drink. The result was no bottomless brunch cocktail, but its sophisticated flavors had guests coming back for seconds, Lopez says. He’s even garnished the cocktail with chapulines (roasted grasshoppers), and guests couldn’t get enough. “They weren’t afraid of it,” he says.
At Stephanie’s on Newbury in Boston, where Bloody Marys are topped with everything from oysters to shrimp to mini lobster rolls and cheese burgers, “insane amounts” of Bloodies are sold each day at brunch, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., says Kathy Sidell, owner, president, and culinarian for Sidell Hospitality.
And this makes sense: As Lopez says, we have been taught to correlate Bloodies with the morning. But because of the flavor profiles of Bloody Mary mixes like Toma — often smoky with a little spice — imbibers should try drinking their next Bloody at taco night. Spicy Asian dishes, such as Thai drunken noodles, can also stand up to the heat of a Bloody Mary.
Sidell also suggests pairing Bloody Marys “with Italian food — as they are tomato-forward — with a lot of acidity, which helps cut the fat in whatever you’re eating.” She adds that Canada’s take on the Bloody Mary, called a Caesar, “would be delicious with a big, rich steak dinner complete with buttery mashed potatoes.”
But one rarely sees a Bloody Mary paired with such foods, likely because Bloody Marys are rarely on non-brunch menus. If more restaurant menus featured Bloodies — encouraging patrons to pair them with BLTs or spaghetti alla puttanesca or burgers — the general bleary-eyed bias towards the Bloody Mary might shift.
The Bloody Mary: “It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore!”
The Bloody Mary is an aperitif-appetizer hybrid: As a pre-dinner drink, its savory flavors are ideal for stimulating the appetite before a meal. And its toppling garnishes serve as convenient pre-meal snacks.
Looking for a cocktail to end the night? Enter, once again, the Bloody Mary. As experts suggest using spirits other than vodka in the cocktail, sub out vodka with gin, tequila, or mezcal. The result is a Bloody full of complex flavors, thus making for an ideal nightcap.
Not ready for a nighttime Bloody? Try a Michelada. Upscale burger chain BareBurger — more popular for lunch and dinner than for brunch — has a Michelada on its menu. This drink, made with Narragansett lager and Toma Bloody Mary mix, shows Bare Burger’s patrons that the flavors of a Bloody can pair with more than scrambled eggs. Lopez thinks that this is a step that may broaden daytime Bloody Mary drinking into the evening, as people are generally more open to drinking beer at night.
“Because it’s on the menu, people are trying it,” says Lopez. “They want to experiment.”
Though Bloody Marys are offered on the Stephanie’s menu all day, Sidell says “very few” are ordered at dinnertime. But perhaps if more people realized how versatile the Bloody Mary is, they would see that the cocktail is worth drinking all day long — not just at brunch. “It’s an association game,” says Sidell, noting that we have been taught to think about Bloodies as brunch-time fare. But she urges imbibers to “shake it up,” reminding customers that the Bloody Mary is “the perfect all day, any day, any time cocktail!”