A seasoned Portland bartender reveals his recipe for the consummate morning cocktail.
Among bartenders, it’s a source of vehement debate: what is the key to a great Bloody Mary? Some might point to the fire, whether in the form of Tabasco, horseradish, or cayenne pepper. Others would single out the vodka itself, while still another faction will undoubtedly cleave to the importance of the vegetable quotient, from garden-fresh tomatoes to perfectly pickled garnishes. Kurt Fritzler, an affable fellow who’s been tending bar at Serratto (formerly Delfina’s) on NW 21st Avenue for 27 years, takes a decidedly more philosophical position. "The most important ingredient in a Bloody Mary," he muses, "is proportion. The players can be varied, but without the correct proportions, you’re lost.”
For a barkeep of Fritzler’s tenure, proportion is a mere matter of muscle memory. But for the home mixer, finding the perfect blend of ingredients will require a combination of expert guidance (we’ve got you covered) and practice (we trust you can handle this part). Fritzler’s renowned Bloody Mary, like many of his favored cocktails, is a no-frills take on the classic formula that’s been curing hangovers since the early 20th century. Bend Distillery’s Mazama Infused Pepper Vodka—flush with a blend of sweet and hot peppers—provides all the heat Fritzler needs, while fresh tomato juice endows this cocktail with a heady, nourishing flavor. And don’t underestimate Fritzler’s favorite touch: the lemon, which enhances all of the disparate flavors while tying them together. "There’s a reason recipes become classics,” he says. "It’s because they’re perfect as they are."