Wine & Spirits: Savory Tomato Sips

Sample drinks using the fruits of summer’s fleeting bounty, then mix some at home.

By Kelly A. Magyarics

The tomato-based La Magdalena cocktail at Jaleo. Photo courtesy of ThinkFoodGroup.

The tomato-based La Magdalena cocktail at Jaleo. (Photo courtesy of ThinkFoodGroup)

Nothing keeps summer alive just a little bit longer than a garden tomato. Whether you are still enjoying the bumper crop from your own harvest, or toting home a bagful from your local farmer’s market, those bright, red, sweet, juicy tomatoes bring end-of-summer happiness. I’ve been making a lot of Caprese salads with them lately, as well as roasting them with herbs and Parmesan cheese and then serving over angel hair pasta. But tomatoes work so well in the glass, too. Bartenders with a palate for savory libations are juicing and straining them for drinks that deliver potent tomato flavor without the thick texture. And of course, with tailgating season upon us, the Bloody Mary is everywhere — and new spice mixes custom designed to pair with the drink’s base spirit (vodka, gin, Tequila or Aquavit), make the classic eye-opener (and other tomato tipples) like nothing  you’ve ever tasted. Getting your lycopene and beta carotene has never been so easy.

As part of Jaleo’s annual La Tomatina Festival, which runs until September 15, ThinkFoodGroup cocktail innovator has created La Magdalena. Juan recently told me he loves the savory simplicity of this drink, which has a beer base and is rimmed with a mixture of cumin and salt. You can get it for $10 at Jaleo locations until September 15. He also shared the recipe with me:

La Magdalena
Courtesy of Juan Coronado, Cocktail Innovator, ThinkFoodGroup
3 oz. White ale
2 oz. Tomato water (from tomatoes that are seeded, juiced and strained)
1 oz. Lime juice
1 Lime wheel, for garnish
Cumin salt, for rimming

Rub the outside of the rim of a highball or similar glass with a lime wedge, and then coat with a mixture of cumin and sea salt. Place the prepared glass in the freezer to chill. Add white ale, tomato water and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into the prepared glass, and garnish with a lime wheel.

This summer, I’ve had a few great compressed watermelon, tomato and goat cheese salads. A few weeks ago, I sampled ’s cocktail version (minus the cheese) at PX. The Summer in St. Leonard combines tomato watermelon water, compressed melon, lemon and American Harvest Organic Spirit. Uber refreshing, albeit not for everyone.

Summer in St. Leonard at PX, with tomato watermelon water, compressed melon, lemon and American Harvest Organic Spirit. Photo courtesy of Jennie Kuperstein.

Summer in St. Leonard at PX with tomato watermelon water, compressed melon, lemon and American Harvest Organic Spirit. (Photo courtesy of Jennie Kuperstein)

at Rogue 24 has just unveiled a new cocktail menu with a selection of savory sips. The Hot Box mixes Boyd & Blair Vodka with smoked tomato, Aperol, lemon and a habanero shrub for some heat.

The Hotbox at Rogue 24, with smoked tomato, vodka, Aperol, lemon and a habanero shrub. Photo courtesy of Rogue 24's Facebook page.

The Hotbox at Rogue 24 with smoked tomato, vodka, Aperol, lemon and a habanero shrub. (Photo courtesy of Rogue 24’s Facebook page)

A few years ago, PDT Managing Partner Jim Meehan started working with New York spice shop La Boîte à Epice. One of their initial collaborations planted a seed, says Meehan. “Most [Bloody Mary] recipes call for salt, pepper and celery salt, but my favorite recipes included others such as cayenne, paprika and chile. It occurred to me that a crucial difference between a good Bloody Mary and a great one, was the bartender’s ability to choose and balance all the spices.” The result is the release of La Boîte’s four Bloody Mary seasoning mixes. They are modular in that base spirits and spices can be interchanged and eschew what Jim calls “a salad bar of garnishes to distract from the quality of the drink.” Just half a teaspoon in each cocktail — and sometimes some citrus and/or hot sauce — renders a unique, flavorful drink. And the mixes can be pre-batched up to two days in advance without sacrificing quality, so hosts can enjoy them, too. La Boîte’s spice mixes are available for sale in the New York shop or online here.

New Bloody Mary spice mixes from La Boite and Jim Meehan kick up the brunchtime staple. Photo courtesy of La Boite and Jim Meehan.

New Bloody Mary spice mixes from La Boite and kick up the brunch  staple. (Photo courtesy of La Boite and )

Jim gave me a set of the mixes, which I have been happily experimenting with. My favorite so far is mixed with gin, his riff on the Red Snapper. The addition of pickled wasabi gives the drink a little bit of a different kick than regular horseradish. Soooo delicious.

Boîte Bloody Marlene
Courtesy of Jim Meehan and La Boîte

4 oz. Campbell’s Tomato Juice
1.5 oz. Tanqueray Gin
¼ oz. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
¼ oz. Lemon juice
¼ oz. Lime juice
½ tsp. Boîte Bloody Marlene Spice Blend
½ tsp. Pickled wasabi
¼ tsp. Cholula hot sauce
Lime wedge, for garnish

Add all the ingredients except the garnish to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Roll to chill and combine (pour back and forth from the mixing tin to the cocktail glass). Double strain into a chilled Collins glass, and garnish with a lime wedge.

is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on Twitter @kmagyarics and on Instagram @kmagyarics.



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