Bubbly wine and sparkling cocktails will no doubt be consumed in abundance during next week’s holiday, but I adhere to a belief that bubbly drinks should be an everyday perk, a small pat on the back for surviving another turn of the earth. Valentine’s Day calls for something edgier, because, well, at one point or another, we all come to terms with the fact that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes and that love hurts. So leave the bland chocolates for Halloween and mark this year’s occasion with a little more sizzle, a little more risk. (Isn’t that what love’s all about, anyway?) A bloody mary will do the trick nicely, whether your heart is inflamed with love or battered and bruised. Spice things up with local love from Boston’s Gillo’s Pickles, made from a family recipe owner Travis Grillo learned from his grandfather before abandoning his real estate career to start his business selling pickles by the spear from a cart on Boston Common. (If that’s not love and devotion, nothing is.) But pickle brine — in a bloody mary? Absolutely. The tomato juice’s acid makes the vinegar notes pop, and the garlic cloves in the container bring an extra zing to the proceedings. Plus they can stand in for a garnish. Opt for the Hot Italian Dill variety and you can cut back on the horseradish. Surprised? Good. There should be an element of that in any relationship.
Grillo’s Greatest Bloody Mary
Makes one drink
2 ounces vodka
4 ounces tomato juice
2 dashes Tabasco Sauce
2 teaspoons horseradish
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 ounces Hot Italian Dill Grillo’s Pickles brine (or any Grillo’s brine)
1 pinch of celery salt, ground pepper and smoke paprika
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge
1. Combine celery salt, pepper and paprika on a plate. Rub lemon or lime wedge along the lip of the class of your choice. (Cocktail glass, mason jar, rocks glass.) Roll the outer edge of the glass in salt until coated. Fill with ice and set aside.
2. Squeeze lemon and lime wedges into a cocktail shaker over ice. Add all the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.
3. Strain into chilled glass. Garnish with pickle spears and your choice of additional fixings.
Adapted from Grillo’s PicklesLiza Weisstuch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @livingtheproof.