Drink Week: Plasma Mary, Plus a Giveaway!

Plasma Mary

Welcome to an installment in Food in Jars' Drink Week 2012, wherein a few of us in the preserving blog community break out our bar sets and share our favorite DIY cocktail recipes.  Previously:  Jamgrìa by What Julia Ate and Grow and Resist's Carolina Paradigm Shift.

At this time of year, I am always amazed at the ebb and flow of preserved goods in our pantry. I was just beginning to worry that we had far too few jars with things in them, and then boom! Thirty pounds of fruit fell in my lap last week. I've already kicked out a batch of canned peaches and some spicy peach jam with tequila (uh, yum!) and about 8.5 pounds of plums are still macerating in the fridge, destined for some jammy greatness today. 

But what I anticipate most every year is our annual tomato canathon. And this year, it can't come soon enough. We're down to our last unopened quart of tomato puree, and have just two quarts of tomato water. 

Tomato water, which we can as a by-product of our tomatopalooza, is a wonderfully versatile pantry item. It makes a great base for soups and braises, adding depth and subtle acidity. And, as I discovered last year, it makes a great cocktail. 

You see, last year I had been asked to do a seminar on the Bloody Mary, to which I agreed. Except, you know, I sort of hate them. No hangover is bad enough to compel me to order one. I find the taste and -- most especially -- texture of canned tomato juice utterly repellant. Which is why I chose to de- and reconstruct it. 

Subtracting the mealy-mouth texture of tomato juice opened windows of opportunity. Tomato water is light and thin; suddenly the whole complexion of the cocktail changed. I chose to pair it with my beloved cucumber-infused vodka, which I rather frequently have on hand as well, and added a hint of salt and spice on the rim. And voilà, a Bloody Mary without the blood. Because of its pale yellow hue, I dubbed it the Plasma Mary.

Plasma Mary 

To make tomato water without going through the rigors of canning 100 pounds of tomatoes, simply blitz a few tomatoes in a food processor just enough to break them down, then strain through a few layers of cheesecloth. 

2 oz tomato water
1 oz cucumber-infused vodka (see below)
1/4 oz (1-1/2 tsp) lemon juice
dash Tabasco
Spicy salted rim (see below) 

For the rim, combine roughly equal portions of kosher salt, chili powder and ground cumin. (If you want a finer texture, use table salt or give the kosher salt a whir in a food processor for a second or two.) Dip the rim of the glass in water or vodka, lift directly out, hold the glass (still inverted) in the air for a couple seconds, then rest it into the spice mix.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir aggressively to chill. (Stirring gives it a thicker consistency and doesn't introduce air bubbles into the cocktail.) Strain into the rimmed cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon wheel or cucumber round. 

Cucumber-infused vodka 

For the purposes of this cocktail, you could just as easily try any number of other options. In lieu of cucumber, you could sub in a few stalks of celery, some cherry tomatoes, a couple black peppercorns, or all of the above. Whatever your favorite flavors are in a Bloody Mary, go for it.

1 medium cucumber 
750 ml 80-proof vodka 

Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half, and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Discard the seeds and skins. Cut the cucumber into chunks, and put in a glass or other non-reactive container (about 1.5 liter). Pour the vodka over. Seal, and give it a shake. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking daily, for 3-7 days, until it reaches the flavor you want. Strain through a coffee filter. Keep well chilled. 

Screen Shot 2012-07-31 at 9.33.09 AM

Wow -- we had 31 comments, five tweets and 21 pins. And the lucky winner is Wendy Gay with her pin, which was #39. Thanks, Wendy; I'll be getting the book out to you right away!

Hey wait, there's more! I have one copy of Making Wine, Liqueurs and Cordials by Beshlie Grimes to give away. In the comments on this post, tell us what infusions, liqueurs or cordials you like or would like to make. (Pro tip: For greatest ease of leaving comments, be a logged in member of the site by clicking "Join/Log In" in the upper right so you don't have to wrestle with the CAPTCHA code.)

And here's a way to get more chances to win: Click here to tweet about this post, or pin this post on Pinterest (make sure the above image gets pinned so we can find it). All comments, tweets and pins must be logged by midnight PDT, Monday, July 30 to qualify for entry.


Hey, I just got your comment on my pin! http://pinterest.com/pin/186829084512536640/

Am having a hard time finding your email address to send you my home address. Could you write me back here?

Lemoncello and flavored

Lemoncello and flavored vodkas are on my list of things to try.


I'm thinking about making Chokecherry shrub, still toying with what seasoning, etc. it may require beyond the usual fare.

Here are the boozy things I make

Limoncello, Irish Cream, Cherry brandy cordial, kahlua.

I am brewing some dandelion

I am brewing some dandelion wine as we speak...It's going extra long, so it will be dry, but the test taste was yummy!

I've made strawberry, apple

I've made strawberry, apple and blackberry infused vodkas, next is limondcello!

boozy goodness

I'd like to make a vodka infusion or liqueur using Genmai-Cha and I'd like to make Aquavit for a friend's birthday.


I've made kahlua and limoncello. This summer I'm experimenting with herbal simple syrups to make cocktails with. I have a lavender syrup to mix with vodka and sparkling wine.

I've been dabbling in fruit

I've been dabbling in fruit vinegar and once I get my hands on some more berries I want to try to make different berry liqueurs.

I'm big on using florals for

I'm big on using florals for my infusions, like hibiscus or lavender. The flowers make for a great garnish to match!


As the recent and reluctant recipient of an absolutely horrid Bloody Mary you're recipe gives me hope for humanity.

In my own experimentation I've learned that apricot liqueur is to be respected not just for its taste but for its "medicinal" after effects.


Quincello, guavacello, marmacello, kumquatcello...

Plasma Mary sounds great too.


too many pears

I just returned from a weekend at a friends 60 acres up high in the mountains of Washinton where they had a orchard and when I asked what was all growing there they said 'pears'!!! And I said 'only pears'? Well, come to find out they were too high for other fruit, so they will have pears and pears and more pears and we joked about it being like Forest Gump on pears; pear gumbo, fried pears, pear relish, etc. So pear wine anyone?


I'm fascinated by the variety in Russian herb-infused vodkas. So far, my favorite homemade version of travnik uses a tarragon sprig, and tastes a lot like licorice or maybe absinthe (which I've not yet tried.) Want to know more!!

Mark it zero

I love making kahlua! There's nothing better than making a Caucasian out of it and yelling "Damn it Donny "

I love to make tayberry vodka

I love to make tayberry vodka from my backyard berries. It is delicious with sparkling (or still) lemonade on a hot summer day.

I've noodled around with

I've noodled around with homemade liqueurs, and have been meaning to start up again... One I'd always meant to try was a garlic vodka with peppercorns and celery, for my best friend's bloody mary addiction... I'll have to give it and the plasma mary a whirl.

I would love to try my hand

I would love to try my hand at some infusions and limoncello.

Love me some infusions!

I have raspberry liqueur and and apple liqueur both in the cabinet waiting to strained!

things to try

I am dying to try chocolate infused bourbon, and cherry infused bourbon. Watermelon infused tequila is great.

I pinned.


Favorite Drink

I would love to try anything that tastes like a liquid Tiramisu! I'd absolutely love to win this book.

I make cranberry liqueur and

I make cranberry liqueur and limoncello. More tips appreciated

I've been making so many

I've been making so many liqueurs and infused vodkas I may need a room addition but I've not jumped into bitters and I think it's time!


I would love to try a limoncello--and I can't believe I haven't yet. Great giveaway!

Hot pepper ! Spicy pineapple

Hot pepper ! Spicy pineapple tequila. Just made strawberry basil gin which was amazing. Peach bourbon coming soon, might try peach rum this year too! :-)

I have made Kahlua and would

I have made Kahlua and would like to make infused liquors.

I love making anything

I love making anything fruity.

Bitters? Yes Sir!

Those celery bitters mentioned by Culinaria Eugenius? Yes, yes, YES.

Oh Yes!

I have a whole bunch of DIY liqueurs, infusions and aged Kahlua in my alcohol collection; I'll try just about any recipe if it includes ingredients I like or have on hand.
I started during the late 60's with recipes as I found them and finally discovered a 1979 book called Homemade Liqueurs by Dona and Mel Meilach (I would LOVE a copy of the new book).
Just a suggestion: use the blended or processed and strained tomato solids for salsa--less liquid and a lot of favor. Also try a steamer/juicer for perfect tomato juice--no solids, a lovely pale color and great taste. Have a great day--from sunny southwestern Idaho

What a great idea!

That makes perfect sense. Thanks for the tip.


I hate bloody marys, too, for the same reason. But I'd drink this in a second. I might try floating a lovage leaf for a slightly herbal touch or add a drop of celery bitters, too. I made a bitters last year out of cinchona bark, lovage, celeryseed, caraway, pepper, and dill. Still haven't tried it but bet it would be good in a tomato water cocktail.

How do I participate in the drink week? Is it open to others?

Hey Jennifer - reach out to

Hey Jennifer - reach out to Marisa; I'm sure she'd love the added contribution.

Will do! (And duh, should

Will do! (And duh, should have figured that out myself.) The Meibach book recommended by a reader is *the* classic. I've been looking for it for years! There are later editions and similar titles that apparently aren't so good, but I'm no judge in this area.

*Meilach, I mean. And there

*Meilach, I mean. And there are copies on Amazon! :)


Limoncello, something with orange, and a coffee liqueur. I want to infuse vodka and rum with various things this year, but haven't gotten started yet.

I love the idea of the plasma Mary. I believe I still have some separated tomato juice from canning last year. No vodka, but my favorite bloody Mary liquor is aquavit anyway (which I have).

I want to try a sloe gin :)

I want to try a sloe gin :)

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