Bloody Old Bay
Football season is finally here and everything is coming up Baltimore [Everything except the first game of the season, that is]. The Baltimore Ravens finally won The Big Game last year and - as usually comes with success in sports - the town is something of a trend right now. That is why it makes perfect sense that one of the newest flavored vodkas on the market is made in homage to the essence of Maryland, OLD BAY® Seasoning. THE BAY Seasoned Vodka is advertised as being “handcrafted with traditional Chesapeake seasonings”. While they could not infringe upon the name of OLD BAY® Seasoning, it is fairly obvious which bay and which seasonings were their inspiration.
This is exactly what it claims to be. When tasted warm and neat, THE BAY Seasoned Vodka is a vodka with pronounced flavors of celery, black pepper and salt. It is what one might imagine could result from distilling a crab boil.
So what to do with it?
As luck would have it, the beginning of football season coincides with the end of blue crab season, the end of ripe tomato season and the fall brunch season. It is a perfect storm for the perfect Bloody Mary inspired by a perfectly merry land. This recipe is about what is good about fall in Maryland – crabs and Old Bay – and what’s good about fall period, fresh veggies.
For a quick version, buy tomato juice and combine it with crab stock (recipe below) and THE BAY Seasoned Vodka. Add the standard accoutrements like a celery stick garnish or maybe a crab leg, et voilà, a Bloody Old BAY.
Here’s the recipe, preparations to follow.
Bloody OLD BAY
Dash OLD BAY Seasoning
1 1⁄2 ounces THE BAY Seasoned Vodka
5 ounces tomato juice (preparation below)
1 ounce crab stock (preparation below)
1⁄2 ounce Worcestershire sauce (For the really adventurous, click for preparation)
Dash Tabasco sauce
Dash black pepper
Celery Salt (preparation below)
Crust the rim with celery salt and pour all of the ingredients into a glass and stir well. Garnish with a celery stalk (or even a cooked crab leg). To make it more of a meal, cook corn on the cob until done and slice the cob into ½ inch round segments. Let the corn sit in the mixture for a couple hours. Add one segment to each glass. Serve with paper towels!
Here are some simple from-scratch steps that will make the drink really stand out:
Start with 3 pounds of very ripe tomatoes cored and chopped – get them cheaper at the end of season where produce is sold if they are overripe and are a little squishy – in a stainless steel pan. Add to it 1 1/2 cup of chopped celery, 1/3 cup of chopped sweet onion, 2 tbs. of sugar, a couple of large pinches of sale and a few dashes of black pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. After it has cooled, strain the mixture through a sieve or a food mill. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
For the crab stock, prepare the crabs for eating in any way. Save the shells and any parts not used in the food preparation and brown them in butter in a pot, then add salt, pepper, celery, carrots, onion, garlic and bay leaf. Fill with water until everything is almost covered and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock well and set aside. It should be a mildly flavored crab stock, clear in color.
Take a hand full of cleaned and dry celery leaves. Toast them either in the oven or on the stove until they are brown then crumble and combine with an equal part of salt.
Combine all of the ingredients in the ratio of the recipe above. The drink is best when made in advance, so it is advised to fill a pitcher and make plenty. Obviously the recipe could be jazzed up in any way by adding ingredients like cumin, horseradish, Dijon mustard, olive brine, smoked salt, etc.