Monday, 18 May 2015

On Friday night I was invited to the re-launch of Dirty Martini in Hanover Square and given free reign on the cocktail menu. Delicious, yes, but totally lethal! The newly-renovated bar is lovely, with lots of modern art, louche '70s furniture and cosy corners, but the best part of the evening was learning how to make my favourite Peach and Wild Tea martini, which was surprisingly easy even though my cocktail-making skills proved a little lacklustre.

On Saturday I was feeling a little rough around the edges but, faced with a glut of tomatoes after an online order gone wrong, I decided to see if I could recreate the fresh Bloody Mary that I still dream about from Qunci Villas in Lombok. I know hair of the dog is meant to be a miracle cure, but I couldn't face any more alcohol so I made a virgin version I've christened the Coco Mary, mixing homemade tomato juice with all the necessary condiments and topping with coconut water for a super refreshing hit of hydration.

Making your own tomato juice tastes amazing, but you do need a lot of tomatoes, even just to make a small amount of juice, so be warned. If you are making a big batch for friends, it might end up being more cost effective to buy tomato juice, but try and get a good quality brand rather than the thick stuff everyone seems to drink on airplanes. If you find yourself, like me, with an overflow of toms, then make it yourself and you won't regret it.

For the tomato juice (makes 350ml)
20 small tomatoes
Half a stick of celery
A pinch of salt, pepper and sugar

Halve the tomatoes and place in a stainless steel pan with the celery, sugar, salt and pepper. On a medium heat, simmer for around 25 minutes until you have a soupy consistency. Don't worry about using any oil - as the tomatoes heat up they will let out quite a lot of water, so they shouldn't stick to the pan.

Pass the mixture through a colander or, if you want a completely smooth, seedless juice, through a fine sieve. Allow to cool and keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

When cooked slowly, tomatoes release the antioxidant lycopene, which has been potentially linked to preventing cancer and heart disease and apparently helps to protect your skin from sunburn (don't skip the SPF just yet though!).

For the Coco Mary (per glass)
1 part coconut water
2 parts tomato juice
A squeeze of lemon
5 dashes of Tobasco sauce
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
A pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix together all of the ingredients in a glass, adding Tobasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce to taste. I like mine quite spicy and tangy, but taste as you go to find your perfect balance. Top with plenty of ice and garnish with a stick of celery and straw! If you want a more refreshing, lighter drink, use 2 parts coconut water to 1 part tomato juice instead.

I actually prefer a Virgin Mary to a Bloody Mary and the addition of coconut water makes for a really light and fresh drink that is super-hydrating and nutritious. It kept my martini-induced hangover at bay and was satisfying enough to keep me going until lunchtime too. Enjoy any time of day, though breakfast is an obvious choice - see my favourite breakfast recipes here.

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