French Blue patio

The Blue Marie, a Bloody Mary with a French Accent

Make French Blue's version of the classic brunch cocktail

Three sweet little words: Now serving brunch. Few phrases bring more joy to our hearts here at TTG HQ in the brunch hinterlands of Napa. What was once a desert, devoid of benedicts and bloodies, has been shaping up of late. French Blue in St. Helena is the latest restaurant to begin full-on brunch service (Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). And in honor of this occasion we present you with the recipe for barman Adam LaCagnina’s The Blue Marie, the spot’s somewhat puzzlingly named twist on the classic Bloody Mary. See it’s called that because, even though the restaurant does not serve French fare, it has the word in its name (it’s named for the shade of blue), and Marie is sort of the gallic version of Mary, and Blue is in the name and so, well, just don’t try to understand it. That’s the damn name of the drink and the drink is good and it comes garnished with Chef Philip Wang’s spicy pickled things made from vegetables that are picked fresh by Omar the gardener and it’s good so just shut up already about the name of the drink and the name of the place and how they don’t serve French food. Get over it.

The Blue Marie

Now this a brunch cocktail recipe that takes some preparation. Earnest Hemingway, who would know about such things, always proscribed the mixture of not less than a pitcher of Bloody Mary. In that spirit we present you with proportions for a large pitcher of The Blue Marie. In a pinch, of course, you could mix this in a single serving glass, using, appropriately, a pinch of the herbs and spices. The other time consuming process of prep is making the spicy pickled things (instructions below), and you really don’t want to miss out on that, do you?

Ingredients

1 (46 oz) can of tomato juice
3 oz (about 1/3 cup) Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon horseradish
1/2 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz Tabasco
1/2 teaspoon dill salt black pepper
1/2 750ml bottle Crater Lake Pepper Infused Vodka by Bend Distillery

Directions

Whisk all ingredients together in a large jar or pitcher and chill overnight. In the morning (or afternoon, depending on when you like your brunch — the point is do this step right before serving) add pepper vodka to the mixture and stir.

Fill tall glasses with ice, pour in The Blue Marie, and garnish each with spicy pickled things (see following recipe).

Spicy Pickled Things

Some vegetables that Omar  the Rudd Farms gardner brings him Chef Philip Wang does very little with. Others he turns into spicy pickled things. You may not have Omar, but you can turn your own fresh vegetables into spicy pickled things.

First, make The Brine:

Ingredients

1 gallon water
1/2 cup sea salt
1/4 cup mustard seeds
10 garlic cloves
1/4 cup dill seeds
1 bunch dill weed
1 tablespoon chili flakes
10 Thai or Serrano chilies, split down the middle
5 fresh grape leaves (the tannins they contain help keep the vegetables crisp while pickling)
5 fresh bay leaves

Directions

Warm water and dissolve the salt into the water; allow to cool and add all the rest of the ingredients, mixing well.

Now, let’s pickle some things:

You can use any firm vegetable, just wash very well and cut into whatever size pieces you like. There’s also no exact number — just a lot. At French Blue they use baby carrots, pearl onions, green beans, kale, radishes, Padron peppers, cauliflower and broccoli.

Place the washed and cut vegetables into a nonreactive container, and cover with the brine. There should be enough brine to just cover the vegetables being pickled. Place a plate on top of the vegetables to ensure they are totally submerged in the brine.

Cover the vegetable and brine container with cheesecloth and let sit at room temperature until the vegetables start to ferment. After two or three days, the vegetables will begin to ferment and create lactic acid. At this point the vegetables are starting to pickle. Taste the pickles every day, and when they have reached the acid level that you enjoy, refrigerate them to halt the fermentation. The longer the pickles sit at room temperature, the more sour they will become.

As we’ve said, these are key to garnish The Blue Mary, but you don’t have to use them only for that. As you can see you made a whole lot. Enjoy them.

For when you are too lazy/hungover/useless to make your own brunch and delicious brunch cocktails you can, of course, get The Blue Marie with Spicy Pickled Things and a full brunch at French Blue in St. Helena.

Now what about that brunch menu?  You can peep it right here: