Beet and Aquavit Bloody Mary

Beet and Aquavit Bloody Mary

The bloody Mary is a classic brunch cocktail that packs a savory meal-in-a-glass punch. A blend of tomato juice and salty/spicy condiments like horseradish, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, it’s normally made with vodka. But let’s be honest, vodka doesn’t add much flavor on its own, it’s just there for the booze. In this Nordic-inspired version of the bloody Mary, I use aquavit instead, for the flavor and the buzz. 

What is Aquavit?

Aquavit, if you’re not familiar, is a neutral potato or grain-based spirit infused with botanicals, including caraway and/or dill. “Aquavit is much more flavorful than vodka,” says Jacob Grier, bartender and author of Raising The Bar: A Bottle-By-Bottle Guide To Mixing Masterful Cocktails At Home. “Think of everything you like in a regular bloody Mary, but with an extra punch of caraway or dill.”  

Just like other spirits, there are lots of styles of aquavit. The popular Norwegian Linie brand, for instance, is a mellow spirit aged in sherry casks, so it’s smooth, slightly woody, and perfect for sipping straight. For blending bloody Marys, Grier recommends a bolder style.  “You need something to punch through the other savory flavors in the drink. If you’re into a caraway-forward flavor, Danish Aalborg Taffel or Icelandic Brennivin are great. For more dill flavor, the dill aquavit from Wisconsin craft distiller Gamle Ode makes a great bloody Mary.” 

About Those Beets

Continuing in the Scandi vein, I add roasted beets in place of some of the tomato juice. They give this cocktail an earthy, slightly sweet flavor, a flashy magenta color, and a lovely velvety texture that all add up to a meal-in-a-glass that’s anything but ordinary.

Get Creative With Garnishes

A simple garnish of skewered dill pickle slices and cubed dill-flecked havarti cheese cubes completes the cocktail, though including seafood in the form of pickled shrimp, herring rollmops, or smoked oysters would add a little extra Scandi style, if you want to amp up the hygge.

What to Serve With Beet Bloody Marys

Beet bloody Marys are the ideal beverage to serve with smoked or cured fish on rye bread or toasted everything bagels; the caraway seeds will pair beautifully with the aquavit. It’s also a good choice if you’re serving egg dishes like omelets or quiche that feature caramelized onions, ham, or strong cheeses. Since this recipe requires a bit of time to make and keeps well, it makes a larger batch. All the better for a memorable brunch.

Recipe Tips

  • Buy beets of the same size (about 4 ounces each) so they cook in the same amount of time.
  • Dark red beets will give you the most vibrant drink color and flavor. 
  • Shake the bottle of tomato juice and Worcestershire sauce well before measuring.

Make Ahead

  • The beets can be roasted and peeled up to 3 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
  • The bloody mary base can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

“The Beet and Aquavit Bloody Mary is a bright new take on the classic bloody Mary. Roasting fresh beets to puree with tomato juice, along with fresh herbs and seasonings gives the drink a beautiful depth of flavor. The earthy taste of the aquavit with its subtle hint of fennel stands out in this unusually delicious cocktail.” —Joan Velush

A deep red bloody Mary in a glass with ice and topped with a skewer of edible garnishes A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 pound medium beets (without tops)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 2 cups tomato juice

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (loosely packed)

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish (not creamed horseradish)

  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

  • 1 medium garlic clove

  • Hot sauce, to taste

  • 24 ounces aquavit (see headnote)

  • 6 ounces dill havarti cheese, cut into cubes

  • 2 dill pickles, cut crosswise into 1-inch thick slices

  • 8 pickled cocktail onions

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

    Ingredients to make a Beet and Aquavit Bloody Mary

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Wrap each beet tightly in foil, adding a drizzle of the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt to each packet. Place beets on a baking sheet and bake until a paring knife can pierce easily through the beets, about 1 hour.

    Baked beets wrapped in foil on a baking sheet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Unwrap beets and let them stand until cool enough to handle. Slip the skins off the beets with your fingers under cool running water. You can do this with kitchen gloves to avoid staining your fingers, if desired.

    Baked beets with skin removed

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Cut the beets into 1-inch chunks. Put 2 cups (about 12 ounces) of the beet chunks in a blender. Reserve remaining beets for garnish.

    Cubes of beets in a blender

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the tomato juice, dill, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon pepper, and garlic to the blender and blend until completely smooth. The mixture will be thick but pourable. Taste and add hot sauce until the mixture is as spicy as you like it.

    A blender with beets, tomato juice, dill, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon pepper, and garlic

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Fill tall cocktail glasses with 1 cup of ice cubes each glass. Add 1/2 cup of the bloody Mary mix to each glass. Add 3 ounces of aquavit to each glass and stir to combine.

    A cocktail glass with pureed beet mixture, ice, and Aquavit

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Using eight 5 to 6-inch cocktail picks, skewer leftover roasted beets, cheese cubes, pickle slices, and pickled onions and balance a skewer on top of each glass.

    A Beet and Aquavit Bloody Mary garnished with roasted beets, cheese cubes, pickle slices, and pickled onions

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Variations

To substitute dried dill for fresh, use 1 tablespoon dried dill and then let the bloody Mary base stand at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the dried dill flavor to bloom.

How to Store

Leftover bloody Mary base can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Do not add the aquavit until ready to serve.

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