While I’m not much of a drinker at this point in my life – apart from the odd
box glass of wine or pint of beer – I’ve long been an aficionado of fancy cocktails. By ‘fancy’ I’m not referring to the neon-coloured concoctions served in sugar-rimmed martini glasses that have gained popularity amongst women drinkers, nor drinks that use – and it pains me to write this – Red Bull, or any energy drink for that matter, as a mixer. By ‘fancy’ I’m talking about the cocktails popularized in and around the mid-20th century – the Manhattan, the Gimlet, the Negroni, to name a few – prepared stiff and poured into elegantly garnished glasses full of ice.
On the trashier (or kitschier, if you want to be nice about it) end of the fancy cocktail spectrum are tiki drinks, which I also have a real soft spot for. These tropical cocktails were also big in the 1950s are traditionally served in ceramic Polynesian-themed vessels with a flamboyant garnish of some description – think mini paper umbrellas and plastic cocktails swords plunged through pineapple wedges and Marascino cherries. Tiki drinks tend to be ultra-sweet and always contain staggering amounts of alcohol – come to think of it, they’re the perfect beverage for hot summer nights at the trailer park, once the Coors Light runs out!
I think what draws me to cocktails from this time period is lore surrounding them – specifically, formal cocktail parties and the idea of taking time to relax at the end of the day with a nicely-prepared drink. I’m sure popular culture has done much to romanticize the consumption of alcohol during this era, and surely it was used and abused as much (if not more) then as it is now. Regardless, I love reading old cocktail recipes and plan on someday putting together a well-stocked cocktail cart with all the necessary accoutrements!
One of my favourite cocktails is the Bloody Mary. Here in Canada at least, the Bloody Mary seems to exist in the shadow of its more popular cousin, the Caesar
. The latter – which is actually a Canadian invention – consists of Clamato juice (clam-flavoured tomato juice), vodka, lime juice, Worchestershire and Tabasco and is normally consumed with brunch as a hangover ‘cure’. Regardless of my vegetarianism, anything clam-flavoured strikes me as WRONG and as such I’ve always opted for the Bloody Mary, which is basically the same drink but with tomato juice used in place of the dreaded Clamato.
Truth be told it’s been a couple years since I drank my last Bloody Mary, but my favourite boozie libation was top of mind when I created this tortilla soup recipe. Its tomato-based broth and Mexican spices lend themselves perfectly to the flavours found in the Bloody Mary: fresh lime, tangy Worchestershire (I used the vegan kind as conventional Worchestershire contains anchovies), and Tabasco added to taste for some extra heat. Diced avocado, fresh cilantro and lime zest provide a cool counterpoint to the soup, and blue corn tortilla chips add a fantastic crunchy texture. This is definitely my favourite recipe of late – and I promise it won’t leave you with a hangover!
Recipe: ‘Bloody Mary’ Tortilla Soup
Makes 4 servings
- 1 small onion, diced small
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced small
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 small zucchini, diced small
- 1/2 cup of corn kernels
- 1 cup cooked pinto beans
- 1 398ml can of diced tomatoes, preferably organic
- 4 cups vegetable broth (I used low sodium broth)
- 1 teaspoon vegan Worchestershire sauce
- Juice and zest of 1 small lime
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- 2 cups blue corn tortilla chips
- Tabasco sauce to taste
- Salt to taste
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic, jalepeno and red pepper flakes and saute just until garlic begins to brown. Add paprika and chili powder and stir until spices coat other ingredients.
Add diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, zucchini, corn and pinto beans and stir until everything is combined. Bring soup to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and let soup simmer, partially covered, until zucchini is tender – about 20 minutes, or preferably longer to let flavours develop. Taste and adjust with salt if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in Worchestershire sauce and lime juice.
Serve, topping each portion with tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, lime zest and Tabasco sauce to taste. Eat!
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