All Hail The Tomato Cocktail

Drink Lists tomato cocktail
All Hail The Tomato Cocktail

I remember my first Bloody Mary like it was yesterday. Salty and savory, I thought it tasted like cold tomato soup—or the V8 that my dad would drink religiously on weekend mornings—with a barely perceptible flavor of vodka that lent some heat to the drink. I was obsessed. I would happily drink three Bloody Marys in a row at brunch with friends, adding a touch less alcohol with every successive drink to avoid unnecessary hangovers. It was one of the first alcoholic drinks I chose specifically because of, not in spite of, its flavor.

So you can imagine my delight when tomato cocktails started popping up on cocktail menus everywhere. Sometimes, these cocktails are overtly tomato-y, while others offer just a taste of that subtle umami quality. All of them, though, are beautifully refreshing, with a savoriness that’s undeniably appealing to those who don’t tend to indulge in sweet, fruity drinks.

Tomato cocktails are naturally at their best during the summer months, when the freshest, sweetest and juiciest tomatoes hit farmers markets, grocery store produce sections and backyard gardens. Let’s check out some of the most delicious tomato-based cocktails (besides the iconic Bloody Mary) so you can make your own at home.


Michelada

There are countless iterations of the Michelada, a Mexican cocktail that rose to prominence in the 1960s. Not every version of the Michelada contains tomato, but in my opinion, the best Micheladas are made with Clamato, a tomato- and clam broth-based juice that boasts plenty of MSG, an ingredient that should be essential to all tomato-based cocktails. Depending on the recipe you’re using, you may also include Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, hot sauce, lime juice, Tajin and, most importantly, beer. It’s ultra-refreshing and exactly what I want to drink on a beach day.


Tomato Margarita

A classic margarita boasts a savory, salty quality, so it makes sense that the format would lend itself well to a tomato base. Grilling the tomato before you juice it and add it to the cocktail gives this tomato cocktail a smoky element that pairs especially well with mezcal, if that’s your thing. Sugar and fresh lime juice are the only other essential ingredients, although you can experiment with a variety of add-ins to make your tomato margarita your own.


Toma-tini

The martini craze is still alive and well, and tomatoes are throwing their hats in the ring. This may not be the easiest cocktail on this list to make, as you’re going to have to clarify the tomato juice. That clarified tomato juice, though, makes a perfect, lightly savory base for this spirit-forward drink. Add a few drops of olive oil into your glass to bring it all together.


Oyster Shooter

If you love a spicy drink and seafood, then oyster shooters are exactly what you’re looking for. Yes, you’re actually going to use an oyster in this recipe, and you’ll dress it up with tomato juice, prepared horseradish, black pepper and lime. This is meant to be an intensely flavorful drink, and technically, it’s supposed to be taken as a shot (although you could simply add more tomato juice if you wanted to turn it into a cocktail). Admittedly, it’s not for the weak, but it is ideal for Bloody Mary lovers who are looking for an extra kick of flavor and heat.


Tomato Spritz

Bubbly, refreshing and quintessentially summery, the tomato spritz is an oft-overlooked tomato-based cocktail, but I’m here to give it the love it’s always deserved. You’ll need to grab some gin, extra-dry vermouth and Prosecco from your bar cart, which you’ll combine with club soda and tomato water. You’ll also need to make a tomato shrub, which is a vinegar-based concoction that will lend some mouthwatering acidity to the recipe. Does this cocktail require some prep work? Yes, but it’s worth it once you taste the spritzy, refreshing deliciousness that is a tomato spritz.


Samantha Maxwell is a food writer and editor based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @samseating.

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