My favorite place for brunch in the city is Locanda Verde, an Italian restaurant with curved doors and wood paneling everywhere, mirrors on the ceiling, delicious baked bread, and a roast chicken to die for. It is the brainchild of Andrew Carmellini, who has since gone on to open The Dutch, another great restaurant in the city.
Anyway, my favorite drink that is ALWAYS on the menu at Locanda Verde is their Bloody Mary della Casa. I have always wondered what goes into one. I was lucky that I frequent the bar often enough to know the bartender personally. With some luck and a lot of persuasion, I got him to reveal the secrets of the house bloody mary. Here it is!
Bloody Mary Della Casa (from Locanda Verde)
10 cans of tomato juice (roughly 8 ounces each)
1/2 quart lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
12 oz worcestershire sauce
8 oz balsamic vinegar
1 heaped tbsp cayenne pepper
2 heaped tbsp white pepper
3 heaped tbsp onion powder
3 heaped tbsp celery salt
2 tbsp regular salt (kosher is fine)
1 cup fresh horseradish (might be hard if it's out of season, in which case jarred horseradish is fine too)
3 heads of garlic, halved*
1 bunch of fresh basil, finely torn*
*Tie inside a cheesecloth and leave to soak over night. In the A.M., remove the basil and garlic.
The Bloody Mary batch must be made on the day before, i.e. Friday afternoon for Saturday brunch to ensure that it properly infuses.
1 oz vodka
0.5 oz grappa
6 oz bloody mary mix
Serve in a highball glass rimmed with fennel salt (This is made by grounding fennel seeds in the spice grinder. Add to salt at a ratio of 4:1).
Garnish with a short bamboo skewer of pickled pepperoncini, olive, and mortadella.