Jim Meehan, Managing Partner of New York City's no-longer-a-secret cocktail venue PDT (Please Don't Tell), regularly uses ingredients from Lior Lev Sercarz's biscuit and spice shop La Boîte à Epice for glass rims and garnish. It makes sense, since Lev Sercarz is known for his discerning palette and ability to find the best quality products from all over the world. When Meehan wanted to revisit the components of the classic brunch beverage, The Bloody Mary, Lev Sercarz's spices promised to be a natural fit. Both confessed to not being fans of the drink, remarking that the emphasis is typically more on garnish than the contents, so they began a collaboration with the intent of making something they'd both enjoy. The result, La Boîte à Epice Bloody Mary Spices, yields four new mixes complete with detailed recipes for fans—and even haters—of the veggie-driven breakfast cocktail.
The duo developed four blends, and their accompanying recipes, which range from a classic Mary to the more exploratory Marion. While Meehan developed the cocktails, and their component balance, he volleyed with Lev Sercarz, who developed matching spice blends for Meehan to taste and respond to. It was a daunting task at first. As Meehan describes, "Good luck making better sauces than Lea & Perrins Worcestershire or an iconic hot sauce, such as Tabasco." This motivation was what drove him to spices in the first place, "It occurred to me that a crucial difference between a good Bloody Mary and a great one was the bartender’s ability to choose and balance all the spices."
While the exact proportions of the spice blend and even certain ingredients within it are secret, the PDT recipes are not. To find the right flavor, each ingredient must be measured exactly, even for the staid Mary. While all four recipes are smooth, delicious and refreshing, three of them are takes on the classic variants. The fourth, dubbed Bloody Marion, is the furthest from what you know to be a Bloody Mary, as it uses a base of aquavit and unexpected ingredients like sesame oil:
Boîte Bloody Marion
4 oz. Campbell’s Tomato Juice
1.5 oz. Krogstad Aquavit
.25 oz. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
.25 oz. lemon Juice
.25 oz. orange Juice
.5 tsp. Boîte Bloody Marion Spice Blend
.5 tsp. Gold’s Horseradish
.25 tsp. Cholula Hot Sauce
1/8 tsp. sesame Oil
For all of the recipes it's important to roll the ingredients together with ice. This is neither a shaking or stirring—the ingredients are rhythmically poured between two tumblers for a fuller balance and an even consistency.
The rolled blend is then fine-strained to lend consistency to the texture. Meehan recommends chilling this mixture overnight. After that—or immediately after straining if you simply can't wait—pour the mix into a chilled Collins glass. In an effort to avoid what Meehan refers to as the "salad bar" that has become the contemporary Bloody Mary these only include one simple garnish—for the Marion, a dill pickle spear.
While this is an example of the Marion, each of the four versions is very different from the next with The Mary, Maria and Marlene being strong nods to the classics. The aquavit-based Marion is a curious, but delicious mix of unexpected flavors. All iterations have been crafted with tremendous care by both Meehan's PDT team and Lev Sercarz. These were designed to improve upon a classic, but also draw in new enthusiasts. With that in mind, they're definitely worth the exploration.
The La Boîte à Epice Bloody Mary Spices are available online at The Ingredient Finder, for $45 for a three pack or $15 individually.
Photos by Josh Rubin