The possibility of facing a virtual Mother’s Day celebration certainly adds a layer of complexity to a day that, for many of us, already carries heightened emotions, from poignancy to happiness and everywhere in between. It was tricky to come up with a cocktail for remembering or celebrating our mothers this year. But at least the acronym for these times of Sheltering in Place, SIP, is fitting.
I associate the color red with Mother’s Day, because so many give their mothers red roses for the occasion. I worked for several years at a lovely resort where each mother received a beautiful rose as she left the restaurant on Mother’s Day. The gesture added a note of grace, whether her gathering had been full of laughter or those at her table seemed stiff. Working in a restaurant, one sees a wide range of family dynamics, some on full display, others bubbling just underneath a placid surface.
Mothers have such different ways of indulging. Some enjoy only the rare glass of sherry, while others may be more the tumbler-of-vodka-at-lunch type of gal. Then there are regional variations to consider. Southern mothers may be used to a seemingly mild-mannered but deceptively strong bourbon milk punch. Perhaps a West Coast mom will prefer a glass of Oregon pinot noir.
What finally set me on the course of the cocktail I decided to suggest is the fact that Mother’s Day is on a Sunday, when a Bloody Mary would be a classic choice. And the idea of a tomato-based drink brings us back to red.
When we served this drink at Chester, our Provincetown restaurant, we called it a Red Snapper. It is essentially a Bloody Mary where you flip the ratio of vodka to tomato juice. It is martini-like, a version for sipping. We used to make ours with spicy pepper vodka for extra kick, but you can use regular vodka and a couple of dashes of tabasco or other hot sauce. Spicy and savory, you might even think of this as a cold, boozy, tomatoey first course for your Mother’s Day meal.
Here’s a toast to mothers, wherever they may be.
The Red Snapper
for one cocktail
2.5 oz. pepper or regular vodka
1 oz. tomato juice
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 to 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Celery salt for the rim of the glass
Chill a martini glass with ice and water. Spoon a generous layer of celery salt onto a small plate and set it aside.
Combine drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for at least 20 seconds, until the mixture is very cold.
Remove ice and water from the martini glass, swipe a lemon around the glass rim, and twist the glass through the celery salt to coat the edge.
Strain cocktail into glass and garnish with a lemon peel and, perhaps, a pimento-filled olive. Makes one drink but can easily be scaled up, batch-style, if you happen to be isolating en famille.