Make Your Next Bloody Mary Even Bolder With Berbere

A brunch cocktail feels almost as classic as a plate of eggs and toast — and the Bloody Mary has long been a popular option. In fact, it has been a staple since its 1921 Paris debut, which is charged with stories about how it got its colorful name, including one crediting Hemingway. It's bold and hearty with a tomato and vodka base that is a perfect vehicle for extra seasonings, condiments, and the mixologist's imaginings. 

The flexible cocktail handles additions, such as horseradish and over-the-top garnishes with such aplomb that it has almost become the expectation to go above and beyond the tried and true Bloody Mary recipe. The mixture is a savory alternative to the predominantly sweet, fruity, or fizzy brunch offerings, representing one of our favorite flavors — umami. It's a taste that can be amped up with any number of salty, briny, and pungent spices, sauces, and condiments. For example, use a flavored vodka or infuse your preferred brand with herbs or jalapeños, add a splash of pickle or olive juice, or a spoonful of berbere spice. 

Berbere spice adds complex heat

Some who don't care for straight-up vegetable juice are more than happy to imbibe the tomato-focused drink when it's a well-rounded and assertive cocktail. Or maybe they're just searching for a hangover cure, which is another story of Bloody Mary lore. A stellar example will balance sweet and savory flavors with the right punch of heat. That's a reason berbere spice is such a great candidate for your next round. Berbere spice is a foundational flavoring prevalent in Ethiopian cuisine, employed as a BBQ dry rub, stew seasoning, and table condiment. The blend incorporates heat from chiles, and while there are no sweeteners, it may impart a hint of sweetness. Chef Marcus Samuelsson's recipe includes chiles de árbol, coriander, garlic, and dried onion, among other savory and warming seasonings, such as cloves, cardamom, and ginger. 

To make the addition even more enticing, it can go both in the drink and around the rim. Stir in about a teaspoon of berbere per glass the next time you batch your Bloody Marys. Give it a taste before increasing the amount, since the spiciness of various berbere blends can differ and the final heat will depend on the other ingredients featured. For extra flavor, wet the glass rims with lime and roll them in a mix of the spice and kosher salt. Garnish this rendition with the customary olives, pickles, and citrus wedges, and for more flair, add cocktail shrimp, a hot deviled egg, or a berbere-spiced slider.