California's ever-expanding Belcampo Meat Co. is known in Los Angeles for humanely raised meats, expert butchery and, at the Santa Monica location, a very buzzy brunch. Bar expert Josh Goldman of Soigné Group was tasked with designing a cocktail menu for the restaurant, and when it came to brunch he knew the menu "had to have a good quality Bloody Mary." He continues, "The hallmarks of any of our cocktail programs is that they all have to feel genuine, and have a place of belonging. We have to mimic what Belcampo is doing with their food program ... this is a meat company."
"If we can't get you a cocktail out in a reasonable time, then what the hell's the point?"
The first thing Goldman addressed while creating Belcampo's House Bloody Mary was his own preference regarding cocktail texture: "For some reason, first thing in the morning, when I really want a Bloody Mary, that's really not the texture I'm looking for." To create a smoother-drinking Bloody, Goldman makes clarified tomato water. And from there the advanced bar techniques keep coming. Instead of simply adding vodka, Goldman uses a fat wash, infusing vodka with Belcampo's bacon and a secret umami weapon, porcini mushroom powder. In place of the usual celery stick garnish, Goldman adds celery juice ice cubes. He also drops in a house pepper tincture to add a more spicy yet floral character to the cocktail. Finally, the showstopper: candied bacon. All told, it's about two days worth of prep.
If this sounds like a lot of work for a Bloody Mary, it is. But Goldman points out that this work doesn't happen in service. "One of the reasons it's so prep intensive is because I don't want the build to be intensive at all," he explains. Brunches are busy. "A lot of people have the conception that craft cocktail is a 20 minute cocktail. That's not true. That's not how we do them. If we can't get you a cocktail out in a reasonable time, then what the hell's the point?"
Below, a look at how the Belcampo Meat Co. House Bloody Mary comes together:
- The bacon vodka infusion begins with cooked and uncooked Belcampo bacon, porcini mushroom powder, and cracked black pepper.
- Goldman adds the components into a Cryovac bag.
- Then he adds vodka. He uses whatever the restaurant is currently using for "well" vodka.
- The bag gets sealed.
- Next the bag is placed in a circulator set at 160 degrees.
- The bag stays in the circulator for two hours.
- Goldman strains out the solids, and then freezes the mixture overnight.
- The next day, Goldman skims off the fat cap and then strains the mixture through a chinois lined with wet coffee filters.
- Goldman strains the mixture again to make sure no fats will end up in the final drink.
- Godman begins prepping the celery ice cubes by running the celery through a masticating juicer.
- Goldman adds a bit of ascorbic acid (vitamin c) to preserve the celery juice's green color.
- Goldman strains the fresh celery juice.
- Goldman pours the celery into silicon molds before freezing them.
- Goldman candies Belcampo bacon to use as a garnish later. He coats a "Prosciutto-thin" slice with cracked black pepper and demerara sugar, and cooks it in the oven at 350 for six to eight minutes.
- Building the drink is simple, says Goldman. First, he adds an ounce of lemon juice.
- Next he adds four ounces of tomato water, prepped in advance.
- The tomato water is made by blending tomatoes, bringing the mixture to a boil with a bit of salt and sugar, skimming the solids from the top, and then straining the mixture.
- Next comes for drops from a spicy pepper tincture for "background heat." Also made in advance, the tincture combines jalapeño, serrano, habanero, bird's eye chili peppers with Wray and Nephew overproof rum.
- Next comes two ounces of the bacon-infused vodka.
- Next Goldman adds ice.
- Goldman gives the mixture a "medium-medium" shake.
- Goldman then adds the celery ice, prepped in advance, and places it in a chilled glass.
- Goldman strains the mixture over the celery ice. None of the ice used for shaking is served with the cocktail.
- Goldman adds a lemon wedge garnish. "I hate it when people don't serve it with a lemon wedge," he says. "You want to be able to adjust acidity yourself."
- Next comes a piece of the candied Belcampo bacon, prepped in advance.
- Goldman uses tweezers to add a garnish of edible micro-flowers.