Bloody Mary? Yes, please! I’m her number one fan. No, not the ghost who appears in a dark bathroom when you say the name into the mirror. (Why did we do this when we were kids?) I’m talking about the spicy, tomatoey drink. I order them at almost every restaurant for every meal, and I make them at home for holidays. I love to see how different places customize them, sometimes adding an entire meal’s worth of food on top as garnish.
A Bloody Mary that makes your taste buds tingle with every sip is unbeatable. But there’s nothing worse than a terrible one that tastes like watered down V8. I was even nervous to try gourmet mixers, like the ones from artisan brand Toma—premade mixers don’t have the best reputation. But after trying Haand and Toma’s Bloody Mary Brunch KitI’ve fallen in love. I want to gift one to everyone I know and drink my little bloodies every day. This kit doesn’t have alcohol in it, but (spoiler alert!) they taste damn good without it too.
Drinks on Me
There’s nothing better than a Bloody Mary. I want ’em thick and I want ’em spicy. I want ’em with vodka or tequila. (I suppose the latter is technically a Bloody Maria, which is still delicious.) I even drink them without alcohol (that’s a Virgin Mary, obviously). Just add in lots of nice garnishes like olives, celery, or a crispy piece of bacon. It’s a meal in a glass that also tastes delicious with actual meals. And there’s tomatoes in it! That means it’s good for you, right?
When I got married in Vegas, I had a few drinks while walking up and down the strip, including the gigantic frozen daiquiris in a long plastic cup, but I spent the night in the hotel bar drinking some of the best Bloody Marys I’ve ever had. (I emailed the hotel to request the recipe. Unsurprisingly, I was denied—neither the first nor the last time that has happened.)
So you see, I have high expectations. But Toma’s mixers are delicious. I tried the original mix and the horseradish, but there is also a mild option if you’re not fond of spice. They’re the right thickness—not too thin but not too heavy—and the flavors are strong enough to taste good as is, or to stand up to a bunch of garnishes.
The brand doesn’t do a great job of listing the ingredients on the website, but it has about what you expect: tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, various vinegars, and, surprisingly, orange juice concentrate and soy sauce, plus some other spices. (These ingredients are taken from Toma’s Horseradish Bloody Mary bottle.)
You must be thinking, wow, this gal loves tomato juice. In fact, I hate tomato juice by itself. V8 sends shivers down my spine, in a bad way. But somehow, when you add in spices and hot sauce (I prefer Cholula when I make one at home), you’ve got a delicious drink. (I also recommend salt, garlic salt, lemon juice, and Worcestershire if you’re making it from scratch.)
The two-person kit that I tried comes with two bottles of Toma mix—you can choose between original and horseradish or original and mild—and two Haand Chemist Cups, which we’ve recommended before. We love these sturdy 9-ounce vessels from a North Carolina handcrafted-pottery company, which will long outlast the morning’s bloodies.
But you can opt for bigger kits, too. Bigger kits include Haand’s salad plates, in addition to the cups. It spirals up from there (and gets a little pricey), but they do include a four-person brunch kit and one with a cheese plate.
If you’re out of ideas for gifts this season, a cocktail kit feels nicer than simply taking a friend out for drinks. It means you thought about what flavors they like and knew they’d like to enjoy it at home, with a nice glass that they can keep. Even if your giftee doesn’t love Bloody Marys like I do (and if not, why not?), there are so many options to choose from. I’m also eyeing a home bar kit and some vintage decanters.
Gifting is hard. Drinking is easy. So just start gifting drinks.