Recipe: “The Bloody Widow” Bourbon Bloody Mary

As soon as I flipped my calendar on the morning of March 1, I had a good feeling. You can sense it in the air; we are slowly inching our way towards warmer months. Spring is arguably DC’s best season: slushy sidewalks are a thing of the past, humidity has yet to strike, and patio happy hours and cherry-blossom-themed cupcakes abound.

Last but not least, the season of outdoor brunch returns.  Who doesn’t love sipping a brunch cocktail (or 10) on a lazy, hazy weekend morning?

Now before an all-out brawl commences over Mimosas vs. Bloodys, let me stop you right there. There are merits to both. But crafting a Bloody is an art form, and frankly, they are way more fun to look at on Instagram.

Six months ago I made my way up to The Heights, after repeated recommendations from my fellow Bloody-ers. I was delighted to come across the “High Noon” Bloody, which had a bourbon base and a pleasing, but not ostentatious garnish of bacon and potato straws. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but this was the first place I’d seen in DC that offered a bourbon Bloody. As a woman engaged in a long-term love affair with bourbon, I was thrilled to see this on the menu, and the Heights did not disappoint. My first sip of the High Noon gave me a real jolt, the way only carefully-made cocktails do. The bourbon had wrapped this savory cocktail in a rich, oaky finish and made it so much more robust than your typical vodka-based Bloody.

The High Noon | bacon washed bourbon, frank’s red hot, worcestershire, bacon, pickle, potato strings
Since my Heights excursion, I’ve stumbled across more and more places in town that have added this glorious drink as a brunch cocktail mainstay. It appears that the Age of the Bourbon Bloody is upon us, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. After some trial and error, I devised my favorite recipe for this cocktail, outlined below for your mixing pleasure. The amount of liquor may vary depending on your taste buds (or on how blitzed you want to get), so start off at the low end and add more to taste.
The Bloody Widow*
(Makes one cocktail)
  • 2-3.5 oz Bulleit bourbon
  • 1 bottle tomato juice (amount will depend on size of glass you use)
  • 1 oz clam juice (skip the Clamato juice; get a good bottle of clam juice and mix it in yourself)
  • 1 dash lemon juice
  • a few lemon wedges
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 3 dashes of hot sauce (Tabasco, or I use Trader Joe’s chili pepper sauce)
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes celery salt
  • 2 dashes ground mustard
  • a few twists of cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup French’s Fried Onions, crushed up
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • Dill pickle
  • 1 slice thick cut bacon, cooked crispy
  • 1 celery stalk
  • ice
  1. Choose your glass. Rub the rim generously with a lemon wedge.
  2. Combine French’s Fried Onions and Old Bay in a small bowl. Flip glass upside down in the bowl and coat the rim of the glass in the mixture. Set aside (in the fridge, if possible).
  3. Get two other pint glasses. Fill up one glass at least half way with ice.
  4. Pour all ingredients EXCEPT tomato juice over ice.
  5. Once all ingredients are combined, fill up the rest of the glass with tomato juice.
  6. Pour drink from one pint glass to the other until well mixed (4 or 5 times).
  7. Pour into the first glass, careful not to slosh over the coated rim.
  8. Garnish with pickle spear, celery stalk, and bacon. Those are the garnishes I had handy, but I also love a good cocktail shrimp and a few olives. I’m not really a fan of the fried chicken wing or cheese burger slider garnish, but to each his own.
*Author’s note: I named the cocktail after one of my favorite whiskeys, Widow Jane. I also watch an obscene amount of true crime television about murderous wives, so it works on two levels.

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