Spicing Up The Bloody Mary Cocktail
If there’s anything that this research demonstrates, it’s that we don’t want THAT much spice in our Bloody Marys. It sends us back to a word that some more experienced home bartenders take for granted: balance. But this isn’t just about modulating sweet and sour, like in a daiquiri. We’ve got pretty much every possible flavor bouncing around in the Bloody Mary, and somehow, we’re supposed to bring them all into harmony. This task is further complicated by the fact that in most recipes, you’re going to have multiple sources of spice, acid, and umami.
So in the perfect Bloody Mary, we want spice, but not too much. And the kicker is that the definition of what constitutes “too much” is going to vary from person to person, creating not only a flavor problem, but also a language problem. Thinking back to our benign masochism research, is there a world in which everyone could have the perfect level of spice for their palate? Is there a way to bring each individual riiiight to the edge of discomfort, but not cross the line?
But I do think there are ways to present Bloody Marys on a cocktail menu in a way that comes close. The key, it would seem, is to give people options.’
Finding The Right “Spice Neighborhood” For You
Think about other situations where there’s an objective flavor fact that you need to communicate to people. My go-to example here is the doneness of a burger or a piece of meat, which can be communicated using a number (i.e. internal temperature) or a trade term (like “medium rare”). When I, as a patron, say “medium rare,” you, as a chef, know exactly how to prepare that food to give me exactly what I want.
A simpler example could simply be the little chili pepper scores next to different dishes on a Thai menu, for example. No chilis means mild, and the more chilis you add on, the spicier it gets. This may be a slightly blunter instrument than temperature-correlated doneness, but it still helps get people into the right neighborhood where they want to be.