Written by Chris Benjamin, director of food and beverage

I have to admit it: I’m a total sucker for the holidays. There’s something about the spirit of human kindness, generosity, and goodwill that makes this time of year truly heartwarming.

I truly love the gathering of family and friends to celebrate the year, and the tidings of joy that dominate this holiday season.

For me, the holidays represent tradition. Each family has its own unique ones — whether a food, a game, a prayer, or a drink. One of my Christmas traditions is the spirit I wake up to: (after coffee, of course) the Bloody Mary.

As with many classic drinks, the origin of the Bloody Mary is heavily disputed. Some say it was invented by Fernand Petiot in 1921 at Harry’s bar in Paris. Others say George Jessel concocted it around 1939. Still others say the two collaborated, with Petiot being the one to add the spices and Jessel coming up with the vodka and tomato juice.

Regardless of who invented it, good Bloodies are great; poor ones are barely worth trying. My recipe is pretty darn good (if I say so myself), so I would like to share it as my holiday gift to you.

One of the secrets is to use Absolut Peppar (Of course, this is all assuming that you like spice. Otherwise, you’re probably not even reading this.) The pepper-infused vodka adds another layer and dimension to the drink.

I also have to give some credit to my sister-in-law Dennie, who keeps my cupboard well-stocked with Lyle Locke’s famous farm-grown horseradish. Also, she gave me the idea of having a traditional Christmas drink.

I want to wish all of you a very safe and happy holiday. Have a merry Christmas, and I hope Santa brings you everything you hope for.

To your good health!

The Perfect Bloody Mary
2 oz. Absolut Peppar
8 oz. V8 (tomato juice is fine, but V8 has better flavor)
1½ tsp. horseradish (fresh is best, never used creamed)
3-4 dashes Tabasco
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
¼ lemon, freshly squeezed
3-4 grinds of fresh pepper
Pinch of salt
½ tsp. celery salt
1 celery stick
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge
Smoked sea salt

In a large pint glass filled with ice, combine vodka, V8, horseradish, Tabasco, Worcestershire, lemon, pepper, and both salts. Shake vigorously.

Cover a small saucer in sea salt. Rim your glass with lime, and dip pint glass in salt. Fill with ice and strain the Bloody Mary in. Garnish with celery stick, lemon wedge and lime wedge (you also can garnish with shrimp cocktail, jalapeno pepper and olive, if you desire).

Drink, and have a very merry Christmas.