Building a Bloody Mary from scratch is a complicated and time consuming process. After all, who wants to grate fresh horseradish first thing in the morning? While some Bloody Mary mixes offer an acceptable shortcut, one doesn’t always have a bottle on hand. Is there an even quicker shortcut to a good Bloody?
First is Absolut Peppar, a venerable spirit (in fact, Absolut’s first flavored spirit, released in 1986!) is flavored with roasted jalapenos, green tomato, and other herbs. On its own, it’s really spicy — burning, almost — which is actually a good thing since it helps cut through the charcoal character that regular Absolut has.
The new kid on the block is Three Olives Tomato Vodka. Yes, tomato. Don’t let the name fool you. There’s plenty more going on in the bottle here, with hot horseradish and spice backing up a strong tomato aroma.
On their own, neither vodka is terribly palatable. These are both designed for mixing, with a particular focus on tomato juice (though Absolut suggests some other oddities, like 1/2 Absolut Peppar and 1/2 cinnamon schnapps). But though both vodkas taste quite different on their own, I was in for a surprise when I added tomato juice and ice. Verdict: In a quickie-Bloody Mary, they turned out to be almost identical. I had to strain to detect any difference at all, with the Three Olives edging out the Absolut thanks to that unique horseradish flavor. But under tomato juice, it’s hard to detect at all.
Bottom line: Both would work well in lieu of regular vodka in a Bloody Mary, but neither is enough on its own to let you get away without using a proper homemade recipe or a premium Bloody Mary mix.