The Duchess-Worthy Bloody Mary Investigation: She Likes It Hot


 

The Duchess & The Hot Stuff

As explained in the first post in this series, Stalking The Duchess-Worthy Bloody Mary (Hold The Octopus), I have undertaken the ultimate humanitarian task: creating a Bloody Mary that pleases The Duchess aka Penny Showalter aka Mrs DrHGuy.

Today’s entry involves The Duchess’s predilection for the piquant, i.e., she likes it hot. Penny routinely orders the spiciest of curries, has an intuitive grasp of the differences between Jalapeños, Habaneros (her favorite), Serranos, Ghost Chilis, Carolina Reaper…  and researches hot sauces with names like Satan’s Blood Chile Extract Hot SauceSauces of Wrath — Thee Tale of Two Chilies, and Elijah’s Xtreme Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce. So, we’re talking about a Spicy Bloody Mary.

Note: For the record, The Duchess has no interest in narcissistic displays of pepper consumption. She doesn’t enter chili eating contests or attempt the Hot Pepper Challenge. She just enjoys spicy food and drink.

While this preference is helpful (it eliminates, for example, any concoction called a “Bland Bloody Mary”), it doesn’t narrow the field all that much; searching Google for “spicy Bloody Mary recipe” produces 3,610,000 results. And spicy drinks have their own issues.

The Complex Mixology Of Spicy Drinks

Spicy drinks are tricky. First, the stakes are higher. Spicy drinks are riskier than spicy food. Because alcohol tends to intensify the heat, if a drink burns the taste buds, recovery is especially slow.1

Second, one can bring the heat to drinks by a number of methods:

  • Adding a hot sauce to a drink
  • Infusing a liquor with chili peppers
  • Adding spice to a syrup
  • Blending peppers into a juice
  • Adding peppers. wasabi, or other spices (e.g., ginger or black pepper) directly to a drink

Third, peppers differ not only in their pungency, but also in the flavor they add to a drink. Bartender Amanda Thomas explicates:

It all depends on what kind of heat I’m looking for. Whether I’m looking for a sweet heat, a peppery heat, or a dry heat, every pepper has its own heat index. It hits you in different stages. Take poblano. Poblano is more a dry heat. A jalapeño is going to be a sweet heat. A Serrano is a dry pepper heat. You know, habañero is just a very — it’s a spicy heat. You have your ghost chilies, which is a numbing heat. So it’s all in what heat you want

Finally, the stakes are higher with spicy drinks than with spicy food. Because alcohol tends to intensify the heat, if a drink burns the taste buds, recovery is especially slow.2

Is The Duchess-Worthy Bloody Mary Worth It?

Given the effort involved in this project, which has already triggered two posts before Penny has yet to slurp a homemade Bloody Mary, this seems a legitimate query. As I’ve previously pointed out, however, my desperate hope  since we wed has been to keep my resplendent, charming, unremittingly passionate, delightful, and altogether marvelous wife – who could have done so much better.- distracted with song, dance, snappy chatter, and such so that she remains content with the likes of me. By my lights, it’s a bargain.

An Aside On The Spicy Bloody Mary: The spiciness of the Bloody Mary may explain its popularity at altitudes of 30,000+ feet (Lufthansa sold as much tomato juice as beer in 2013.)3

Because of the dry air in the cabin, it becomes harder to detect sweet and salty flavors, according to a 2010 study out of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Germany. If you typically don’t like the salty, spicy taste of a Bloody Mary on the ground, you might find it positively delightful on that transatlantic flight. Earthy-tasting tomato juice may even taste bright and sweet against all that celery salt and olive garnish.4

Beyond factors like cabin pressure and even humidity, noise plays a huge part in taste perception. According to a March 2015 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, airplane cabins tend to blare at a solid, steady 85 decibels, which tends to deaden sweet flavors but up the perception of umami, found in tomatoes (and parmesan cheese, certain spices, and, maybe no coincidence, Worcestershire sauce, an ingredient in the Bloody Mary).5

Next: The Duchess-Worthy Bloody Mary Investigation Strategy

While these first two Bloody Mary posts have focused on introductory material and peripheral matters, the next entry in this series will outline my strategy for selecting Duchess-specific Bloody Mary candidates and a methodology for comparing the ultimate winner. Stay tuned.

 

Credit Due Department: Second photo by Phil King

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  1. 10 Spicy Cocktails That Turn Up the Heat by Colleen Graham (The Spruce Eats: Sept 13, 2018) []
  2. 10 Spicy Cocktails That Turn Up the Heat by Colleen Graham (The Spruce Eats: Sept 13, 2018) []
  3. This Is Why The Bloody Mary Is The Quintessential Airport Drink by Emily Bell (Vinepair: August 27, 2015) []
  4. The Origin of the Bloody Mary, and Why It Tastes Better on Airplanes by Andrea Romano (Travel + Leisure: May 16, 2017) []
  5. This Is Why The Bloody Mary Is The Quintessential Airport Drink by Emily Bell (Vinepair: August 27, 2015) []

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