Here is the story about the evolution of “Buddy Marys.” I used to get a tomato juice mix that was called “Beef-a-mato.” It was made by the same company that makes “Clam-ato” now, and they still have the clammy one, but they don’t make the beefy one anymore. Drats. So then I said to myself, “self, you are a smart guy – why don’t you just beef-up your own tomato juice mix,” and that’s where the beef soup base comes in. At your local wholesale club, you can get a jar of beef soup base (even at the grocery or a gourmet store) which is a thick paste of beef concentrate. Otherwise, I use powdered beef concentrate (Goya or Maggi – in the soup aisle) – it’s kind of like powdered bouillon. Anyway, I like a little beefy background to the tomato mix, but it’s probably not kosher or vegetarian — or you may not like the idea, but it adds a little background flavor that makes it different.
So, there’s a lot of ways you can go with the mix. I would buy Mr. & Mrs. T’s or some pretty basic mix and then add all the goodies to really create my own unique flavor. Nowadays, you can get Zing Zang and it’s a really good mix right off the bat, so you don’t need to add as much of the other “goodies” to make the flavor pop. In the course of experimenting, I have also used a blender with some of the mix and some fresh onion and fresh garlic (instead of the garlic & onion powder). Whiz it up and you get a little chunkier texture to your tomato base. Here’s what I add to “regular” mix:
- Beef Soup Base (McCormick paste)
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Hot Sauce
- Lemon Juice (fresh is best)
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Celery Salt
- Celery Seed
- Dill Pickle Juice
- Soy Sauce
- A-1 Sauce
- Cabernet Sauvignon red wine
Yes, you read it right – Cabernet Sauvignon! You don’t have to use fancy wine here – it’s just a hint. Use about 90% tomato mix and 10% red wine – to your taste. It’s another one of those flavor elements that makes a difference! This is a special secret I discovered along the way…
I like to make up the mix in advance. It’s convenient for the day of your party, but it also allows the flavors to blend together in the refrigerator.
Garnishes – you have to have fresh limes to squeeze into each drink, and celery stalks. Here are some other garnishes I have put on the side:
- Pieces of pepperoni folded in ½ or ¼ (toothpick)
- Strips of cooked bacon
- Roasted Shrimp
- Large green olive in the center of the curl of the shrimp (toothpick)
- Cocktail onion
- Cherry or grape tomato
- Pickled okra or pickled green beans
You could have the items on the side separately, or I also like to make skewers ahead — with the shrimp & olive, gherkin, folded-up piece of pepperoni, cocktail onion, grape tomato, pickled vegetable or whatever else comes to mind.
OH – and don’t forget the Vodka!