I knew it was a good idea as soon as I saw it: adding a dash or two of Angostura bitters to a Bloody Mary. I was leafing through my mother’s red file box of recipes, and there, after Beetroot Soup (Armenian), Bent Biscuit  and Biscuit Tortoni, was Blood Mary.

My mother belonged to a generation that took its cocktails with casual seriousness.  Her habitual evening tipple was bourbon on the rocks, not strictly a cocktail, I know, but showing a civilised partiality for spirits. She was also fond of an Old Fashioned that my uncle, John, had taught me to make at a tender age.  And I distinctly remember that, in those days we had a special jug for mixing martinis. It had glass core that was filled with ice to cool the alcohol without diluting it. 

Just occasionally – before Sunday lunch? – Bloody Marys were substituted  for the more usual martini. According to Mother’s recipe, the ingredients were simple and unorthodox. Just vodka, tomato juice, lenon juice, a very little Worcestershire sauce and Angostura bitters – no clamato, for example, sherry or celery salt, Tabasco, cayenne or other fiery stuff.  

I asked the captivating Hannah, who tends the bar at Hide,  to make up a glass to my mother’s recipe, and what a delightful surprise it turned out to be. There’s a lightness and bright purity to my mother’s Bloody Mary, and the Angostura Bitters add a just a note of refreshing medicinal sharpness at the back. I can’t recommend it too highly. So much more refreshing and invigorating than the versions with the usual tonsil-searing, chilli-based additives.


3  vodka

8 tomato juice

3 lemon juice

2 dashes Angostura

1 dash Worcestershire Sauce

Salt & pepper

Make sure the ingredients are all chilled beforehand. Pour over cracked ice and shake vigorously. Drain into a glass without the ice. Add a stick of celery if you must. Drink and be merry.

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