Why drink a plain old Bloody Mary when you can have our Tuscan version? The night before serving, infuse the vodka with basil. There are basil- flavored vodkas for sale, but this is very easy (and fresher tasting) to make at home. The tomato juice base has balsamic vinegar to pump up the Italian notes. Part of the fun of indulging in a “Mary” of any nationality is the garnish, so if you want to stick a cube of salame or a pitted green olive onto the skewer, be our guest. Truth be told, we are purists and prefer a big celery stick as our stirrer . . . but that’s just us!
Recipe from “Super Tuscan. Heritage Recipes and Simple Pleasures from our Kitchen to Your Table”, Touchstone. Photography by Eric Wolfinger.
Special equipment: 6 long bamboo skewers
12 fluid ounces (1.5 cups) vodka
6 large sprigs fresh basil
TUSCAN MARY MIX
3 cups canned tomato juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large pinch sea salt
1 large pinch freshly ground black pepper
12 cherry tomatoes
6 ciliegine (small mozzarella balls)
6 sprigs fresh basil
1To make the vodka: At least 1 day before serving, combine the vodka and basil leaves in a covered jar. Refrigerate for 1 or 2 days.
2Strain and discard the basil. Return the vodka to the jar and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 5 days.
3To make the mix: Whisk the tomato juice, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a pitcher. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day to blend the flavors.
4To make the garnish: Spear 2 cherry tomatoes and 1 ciliegine on each skewer.For each serving, pour 2 fluid ounces of the vodka into an ice- filled glass. Add enough Tuscan Mary Mix (about 4 fluid ounces) to fill the glass and stir well.
5Add a garnished skewer and a basil sprig to the glass and serve.