You might have seen it on menus as a red beer, red-eye, tomato beer, or red rooster. You might have seen Beau Bridges pour himself a tall one in Jerry Maguire (boy, my pop culture references keep getting worse and worse).
You might have shuddered at the thought of tomato juice getting anywhere near a brewed beverage, but I say, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
I’ve always called it a bloody beer, a play on the classic Bloody Mary cocktail and so-called by the alcoholic who introduced me to the drink. (So many lessons learned from that time in my life, but that’s one of the most positive. We keep it classy here at GFS.)
And though I’m not a brunchophobe, and though I do love spice (and celery!), I vastly prefer this version to the Bloody Mary.
The bloody beer is not a newfangled mixologist’s invention. It’s one of those old-timers’ drinks, and its makeup varies slightly as you travel around the North American continent.
It’s big in the Midwest—cocktail and beer-brewing message boards related to the drink are filled with folks chiming in from Kansas and Nebraska—and in Texas, where they seem to prefer making it with Bloody Mary mix.
If you listen to our neighbors from the north and have a Calgary or Sasketchawan Red-Eye, you’ll find it’s concocted with Clamato and sometimes a raw egg. Um, pass on the egg, please.
And of course, the most well-known variation is the Mexican michelada, where beer is combined with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, lime, and tomato juice in a salt-rimmed glass.
Me, I keep it simple. Beer and tomato juice. Crisp, fizzy, savory—would it be a stretch to call it healthy? As with any brunch-y drink, it’s touted as a hangover cure, but I drink bloody beers anytime it’s hot.
The key to this easygoing drink is to use cheap beer. No pricey vodkas, no artisanal syrups, please; stick with your favorite crap brew. Light-in-flavor lagers and pilsners are perfect, but stay away from the heavy-hitting IPAs since the hops don’t taste so hot with the tomato juice.
For Pittsburghers, IC Light is always a good choice, but Sol, Tecate, Miller, Stella, or—god, I really am showing my roots—Michelob would be just dandy. (In a hilarious coincidence, my friend Diane just discovered the drink in Chicago, where they use—what else?—Old Style.)
- 1 12-ounce bottle of lager or pilsner beer
- 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) tomato juice
- Pour the beer into a pint glass, then add the tomato juice. The drink will mix itself!
- Drink frequently in hot weather.