Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Hard Stuff: Exsanguination Without Representation

Exsanguination Without Representation

Let's do some word association.

When I say "cocktails with tomato," what is the first phrase that pops into your head?

If you said "Bloody Mary," I'm not surprised.

Given the lack of tomato based cocktails, we are likely hardwired to immediately envision vodka and the Bloody Mary. And why wouldn't we? Other than the mimosa, it's one of the most well known staples of the morning drinking set, and it at least flirts with the idea of mitigating the otherwise deleterious effects of a tall, salt forward glass of "morning sunshine" by throwing a pretty hefty dose of lycopene and vitamin C at you.

Now, I've had some decent Bloodies in my day, and when prepared in a thoughtful, classic manner, they can be an absolute delight if one is enmeshed in that nebulous, but socially acceptable ocassion to drink before noon known as brunch. The problem is, these days Bloody Mary preparation is anything but.

I don't want to go all Embury or anything, but I will say this: rather than a simple blend of savory and tangy flavors, the Bloody Mary has essentially become a sort of farcical wonderland in which otherwise sane people decide to turn their cocktail into either some kind of Dada masterpiece or an opportunity to skewer as many rich, fatty, or outlandish items as they can with a stick, then dropping it into the glass with wild abandon, trying to one-up the guy down the street who tried to stuff a whole braised pork belly in a glass of tomato juice and pepper vodka in the name of "whimsy."

As a countermeasure to this madness, I would like to offer a a different take on this old chestnut that I think not only would work as a brunch drink, but could also reasonably bring a tomato cocktail to a respectable pre-prandial after 5 kind of an affair.

Using a nice smooth bourbon, such as Buffalo Trace as a base, I added a healthy dose of the Elizabeth shrub from last week, and temper it with a small amount of lemon juice for some freshness and levity, and tie the whole thing together with celery bitters, which calls to mind the ubiquitous Bloody Mary stalk that comes to one's mind when they think of the Bloody Mary of old.

That's it.

No bacon, no salad bar, no carefully "house curated Bloody Mary mix", not even Worcerstershire.

The funny thing is, once I tasted this I didn't miss it at all. The berbere, jam packed full of all the umami you could ever want when paired with tomatoes, does all of the heavy lifting in the seasoning department. It is paradoxically so simple but so complex all at the same time, you'll wonder if you've just performed a magic trick. The answer is probably yes, because you've likely made it disappear in a couple of gulps.

A stunning display piece or mixological blank canvas, it is not, but when you want the great tastes of tomato and booze to taste great together, and you want it with a minimum of fussy nonsense, pull one of these together and enjoy.

As for the name of this cocktail, it ties into the name of the shrub which itself is named after Elizabeth Bathory, who supposedly bathed in the blood of a parade of nameless victims in efforts to keep herself youthful. As there were no trials before these young unfortunates were allegedly killed, the first thing that sprang to mind of course was Exsanguination Without Representation.

Exsanguination Without Representation

2 oz bourbon(Buffalo Trace)
.25 oz lemon juice
2 dashes celery bitters

Combine all ingredients.

Shake with ice and strain into Old Fashioned glass with big ice cube or good sized cubes.


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