Great Baltimore cocktails, The Bloody Maria at Johnny's

A bloody-good Bloody Maria at Johnny's in Roland Park.

We love the idea that Johnny's is having a Black Friday brunch, and we really love that they're featuring Bloody Marys at the brunch. We can't think of a more civilized response to the madness of an enforced shopping holiday combined, not to mention whatever hangover you happen to be nursing from having spent all of Thanksgiving Day with your family.

You could down a pitcher of Bloody Marys while just arguing about the folklore surrounding it. There are different origin stories for the Bloody Mary, and its recipe has changed over the years. It has become hotter and spicier.

The handmade mix at Johnny's is close to classic, according to bartender Joe Beitman. It has freshly ground black pepper, a dash of Worcestershire and freshly grated horseradish. But it doesn't have Tabasco, or any other hot sauce, and if you're used to Bloody mixes with the strong taste of hot pepper sauce, tasting a mix without it is a little revelation. The flavors are much brighter and cleaner. I'm a fan.

Johnny's serves several variations of the Bloody Mary, including ones that replace the traditional vodka with gin (Bloody Margaret), bourbon (Bloody Derby) and tequila (Bloody Maria).

I find myself going for the tequila version, which has a nice snap to it that the classic vodka Bloody lacks. Johnny's uses Herradura silver tequila for its Bloody Maria, and garnishes it simply, with a lime wedge and a slice of jalapeno pepper.

But the secret ingredient of any good Bloody Mary might turn out to be quality of its tomato juice, which is, after all, the predominant ingredient. I know I'm always more hopeful about the prospect for my Bloody Mary when I see that beautiful golden can of Sacramento tomato juice behind the bar. It's just one of those things that good bars do.

Beitman agreed. "It's one of the secrets of the trade," he said.

How To Make the Bloody Maria

For the mix:

1 46-oz. container Sacramento tomato juice

1 tablespoon horseradish

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all into a pitcher. Mix and taste.

For the cocktail:

Bloody mix

2 oz. Herradura tequila

Lime and jalapeno slice for garnish

When ready to serve, add 2 ounces tequila (or favorite liquor) to a highball glass and fill with ice, followed by the Bloody mix. Quickly stir or shake. Add garnish of a lime wedge and jalapeno slice to the rim of the glass.

Where to Get the Bloody Maria

Johnny's

4800 Roland Ave., Roland Park

443-873-8887

johnnysdownstairs.com

$10

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