by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
May 1, 2005
54 E 1st St
(1st & 2nd Aves)
The Bloody Mary is my favorite daytime cocktail. I had been searching around town for a good solid one for a long while until I recently stumbled upon Prune’s Bloody Mary list — the same day I also discovered one of Manhattan’s best brunches.
Most brunch cocktails are bluff drinks, a typical example being overly sweet mimosas made with Tropicana orange juice and cheap sparkling wine. They’re always somehow so half-hearted. But, Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef-owner of Prune, is not one to be careless. Full of heart and soul, she imparts her aesthetics and sensibility in everything one sees and tastes at Prune. Witness the Bloody Mary menu, with its inventiveness, variety, and zing. Prune lists ten different versions of this classic drink. Each comes accompanied by a refreshing shot-sized chaser of Red Stripe or Presidente beer. They all cost $9.
My three cravings from this list are:
(Boodles British Gin, clam juice, and a pickled egg)
Original. But all the concoctions are. Here, the pickled egg really stands out for me, as I am quite partial to eggs. "This drink is supposed to be a nod to the great old-school bars that have a jar of pickled eggs,” Gabrielle explains. ”There is always a pool table in these bars. It’s a filling snack if you happen to be getting a little drunk and sloppy during your pool game."
(Absolut Vodka, celery and lemon)
Clean, crisp, and solid. Adorned with the traditional celery stick, this is the Bloody Mary I’ve been searching for. Classic speaks for itself. I like that the viscosity of this drink is neither too thin nor too tomato soupy. Gabrielle swears by Sacramento tomato juice for the perfect thick and thin texture. I also appreciate that it has a kick but isn’t too potent. It is exactly what one would expect of a Bloody Mary: a savory cocktail with a bit of spice and acidity that complements rich brunch fare seamlessly.
The secret to her otherwise standard recipe is in the lemon. "You want to use much much more lemon juice than you would feel naturally inclined to,” Gabrielle shares. “Just when you think you’ve added enough, add more."
(Prune’s homemade lemon vodka, pickled Brussels sprouts, baby white turnips, caper berries, green beans, and radishes)
A real feast for the eyes as well as for the taste buds. This drink pays homage to Matchbox, the Chicago bar that builds each Bloody Mary to order and garnishes them with store-bought pickled antipasto. At Prune, it comes with an entire skewer of pickled vegetables that unloads a wild line-up of savory taste sensations: everything from the pleasantly vinegary caper berries to the snappy bite of the radishes. Plus, it’s a mini appetizer within a drink. And, I just happen to love all the veggies strung up here, so it’s a great match for me!