Fresh Homemade Bloody Mary’s

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2 carafes

Cooking and eating clean, whole foods has always been a passion of mine but ever since my trip to a Michigan Farmer’s Market last month (and after making pickles!), I feel a little…obsessed with it. Like, I made pickles! I made bread! It was magic! What else do I usually buy that I could make from scratch???

Answer: Bloody Mary’s.

I love brunch. Tomatoes are in season. I own a juicer. I also love Williams-Sonoma and they’re currently in an initiative to see what fresh spins can be made to this classic cocktail. Surely I could take Bloody Mary’s to the next level for the Labor Day party we were attending. Right?

Actually…right. And beyond being delicious, they were fresh, literally summer in a glass. From market to kitchen to party, let me tell you how it all went down.

The Green City Market is one of my favorite places in Chicago. It’s such a city staple and I love spending Saturday morning perusing the stands, being inspired by what I could create from what I see. And my goodness, the tomatoes are gorgeous right now! Truly- I have never seen so many perfect tomatoes, in a vast array of colors, shapes and sizes.

Market Shot

With tomatoes and fresh herbs in my bag (and a crepe in my belly, my favorite Green City Market treat!), I headed home to figure out how in the heck I was going to do this.


juicer prep

To create a base, I juiced the tomatoes and with our Italian honeymoon being so fresh in my mind, I decided to give these Bloody Mary’s a twist so I added lemon, fresh basil, oregano and garlic.


I have never juiced tomatoes but I was blown away by the bright red goodness my Breville Juice Fountain got out of my market haul. It looked beautiful but it smelled even better. If fresh had a smell, it’s what came out of my juicer.

Pitcher Shot

Now that I had juice, I had to make it taste like…not just tomato juice. To mix, I poured the juice into a large pitcher and added in dried oregano, basil, red pepper, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, celery salt, horseradish and, to keep the Italian twist going, balsamic vinegar. Again, keep it in mind that it’s not like making Bloody Mary’s from a mix- you have to create almost a brine to get it where you want it. Use your judgment but know that I added at least 3 tablespoons of horseradish, salt and balsamic. Add, taste, repeat.

Rosemary Vodka

To add a twist to the vodka component of a Bloody Mary, I infused the vodka with 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary overnight. It added a subtle flavor and really contributed to Italian undercurrent happening in the drink. I also froze basil leaves in ice cubes.

Skewer Collage

And what is a Bloody Mary without a killer skewer? Salami, gnocchi, mozzarella, hot peppers and olives were the route I went and it was the perfect compliment to the flavors in the cocktail. I cooked the gnocchi in fresh basil and oregano but outside of that, it was stack on a stick and done!

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I have to be honest: I thought the drink turned out fantastic, I loved the play on the fresh flavors we experienced in Italy, and the taste test I did at home was delicious. But the true test was going to be taking this Bloody Mary show on the road and bringing it to our La Famiglia rooftop Labor Day party. Once a month, we get together with close friends for a full, home cooked meal and this month, it was fun to be able to do it on a holiday. And while these people are lovely and kind, they are also serious foodies. Paella on the grill, smoked pork shoulder, custard infused challah french toast, been to culinary school serious foodies. As I was loading up my bag of vodka and skewers and tomato mix, I reassured myself that if the drinks were terrible someone would be skilled enough to turn it into spaghetti sauce or ketchup or something.

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Two words: Nailed It. The Italian Bloody Mary’s were a huge hit and not only did I go home with empty carafes but I also got requests for this to be my signature contribution to our La Famiglia gatherings. {high five! yes!} The best thing is that I knew every last ingredient that was in them. No secret additives or chemicals- they were 100% fresh and 100% made at home.

It was a great reminder that you can make anything from the ground up. Sure, this took some time and just 2 weekends ago, we used a Bloody Mary mix from a jar. But I think it’s important to remember that it’s possible to source fresh ingredients from your community and get a little dirty in your kitchen trying something new.

A big thanks to Williams-Sonoma for the fresh inspiration.

Coming Up Tomorrow: Heirloom Tomato Bloody Mary’s. What- did you think I could walk by those gorgeous yellow heirloom tomatoes and not turn those into a cocktail too?!

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