As a kid, I loved V8: not only for its flavor, but also for the adorably tiny can it came in. Sipping from that can, my little hand dwarfing it, I felt unspeakably grown up. At lunchtime, all the kids around me drank Juicy Juice, but there I was, choosing to drink vegetables. I surely was a mother’s dream.
A few years ago, on a morning flight, the stewardess wheeled her beverage cart to my row and asked me what I’d like. I was about to order my standard half-seltzer, half-cranberry juice with a lime when I caught sight of that little white-and-red can. I hadn’t seen it in years, and wondered if I’d still like it.
“V8 on the rocks,” I commanded. I took a sip.
But unlike Proust’s madeleines, this taste of my childhood didn’t bring any precious memories flooding back: I was too distracted by the awful, tinny, salty flavor of the “juice” to be able to conjure any such recollections. I ignored that V8 for the rest of my flight, letting the ice cubes melt into the bright-red liquid until the stewardess came back and disposed of my mistake.
One good thing came of my trip down memory lane: when I returned home from that vacation, I determined to come up with a simple homemade version of V8 that would taste a million times better. I experimented with both raw and cooked versions of this recipe, settling on the latter because it better blends the disparate vegetable flavors into one smooth, complex-tasting juice. All you do is chunk up some tomatoes, carrots, beets and peppers — I like to add jalapeño for some heat — and simmer them together, finishing the mix with bright, fresh parsley and crisp cucumber and blending everything into a silky, fire engine–red juice.
Now of course, as adults, there’s pretty much only one reason to keep tomato juice on hand: everyone’s favorite brunch drink, the Bloody Mary. This juice makes the best Bloody you’ll ever sip; accordingly, I like to accent my mix with the classic flavors of hot sauce, Worcestershire and plenty of celery salt. Add some cold vodka, invite your friends over, and enjoy this infinitely improved noontime beverage.
- 5 medium-large tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small onion or shallot, diced
- 1 small or 1/2 large beet, peeled and diced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 small red pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
- 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish, or use 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon liquidy hot sauce, such as Tabasco
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons celery salt
- juice of 1 lemon
- water, as needed
Spicy Homemade Bloody Mary
- 6 ounces Homemade Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, or use high-quality prepared mix
- 3 ounces vodka (bottom shelf is fine)
- additional celery salt, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, to taste
- lemon wedge, cucumber slice and parsley sprig, for garnish (optional)
For the Bloody Mary mix:
Combine tomatoes, onion, beet, carrot, red pepper, jalapeño and honey in large pot and add 1/4 cup water plus salt and pepper to taste. Cover pot, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Drop heat and allow vegetables to simmer, covered, until completely tender, about 40 minutes.
Remove pot from heat, add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a blender and blend on high until completely smooth. Check for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper as needed. If mixture is too thick, add water and re-blend. (Do not thin mixture too much, as added vodka will also thin mixture.)
Drink Bloody Mary mix as-is, use immediately in cocktails or transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to two months.
To make a Bloody Mary cocktail:
To create a salt rim, dip the mouth of a large tumbler into a plate of water, shake off excess, then dip in a plate of kosher salt, twisting glass until rim is coated (optional). Fill the tumbler with ice.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add Bloody Mary mix and vodka, as well as additional seasonings if desired. Shake vigorously, then strain into tumbler. Garnish with lemon, cucumber and parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.
Try out these Bloody Mary recipes on Food Republic: