Vampire Marys

Mike from Toledo and I weren’t exactly friends, but we’d trod a lot of the same paths and shared some institutional attachments.  We’d both gone to Michigan undergrad, Mike a few years ahead of me taking the frat route with me the hippie wannabe.  We both got enough academic cred to make medical school, and after time at different places the Match Computer put us both at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis where we would toil under tyrant David Kipnis, cling to our Red Raiders, hunker down and live to tell the tale.  Bevra Hahn was inspiring a generation of Medical Residents into Rheumatology, including us two.  Mike took the already well worn path from St. Louis to Ann Arbor, and I followed in a bit.   When I arrived, the place was in transition with new blood coming in to replace the old guard.  Mike and I sure were fond of the old guys, and we still regale with tales of Giles, Bill, Armin, George, Joe, Irving and maybe a few others.  The old guys don’t show up at the Michigan party anymore at every ACR meeting, and it’s beginning to dawn on us who the old guys are nowadays.  MIke and I are both diehard Michigan sports fans, so when at last November’s meeting he mentioned the football tailgate he and his frat buddies have been holding for over 40 years, I felt honored at his invitation to come join in the tradition.  Now Kathy and I are townies and don’t tailgate.  We go to a friend’s house a few blocks from the stadium, park, and walk to the game, passing reveling tailgaters along the way.

The next game – the insanely partisan grudge filled match with those Michigan State Spartoons – would like all its predecessors be plenty of fun without any embellishments.   But there we were, in a crowded Crisler parking lot finding Mike’s blue SUV with red Ohio plates, surrounded by folding tables and an active grill with a tasty array of snacks and free flowing booze.   The bloody marys were especially tasty, kicking up our blood alcohol nicely before the contest, as warriors have practiced throughout the ages.  Plus we wouldn’t have to seek out the insipid overpriced wares of the stadium’s concessions as our bellies were full from Mike’s spread.  We headed to the gate after thanking Mike profusely while being invited back then hugging all our new friends.  The game featured a satisfying stompdown of the hapless, but still dirty, Spartoons.  It didn’t take long for postgame talk to turn to what we could do to contribute to Mike’s next tailgate.  He’d assured us we shouldn’t feel obligated to bring anything.  But Kathy and I figured pretty quick what we could bring, if we could pull it off.

Now who doesn’t like a good bloody mary?  The nourishing tomato juice protects against the bite of the vodka and places it as a food group worthy of being sipped early in the day.  Now I’ll admit that on occasion I’ve done like Jim Morrison when I “woke up this morning and I had myself a beer”.  But cracking a cold one always seems a little guilty, not at all like taking on one of those tomato juice specials.   And tomato juice and vodka is just a stating point.  My local restaurant on Sundays features a whole table of ingredients, tomato juice, vodka and gin (no fan) standing as sentinels in the back to add bulk and volume to whatever combinations you’ve sampled.  If Kathy and I didn’t have a special favorite, I wouldn’t be writing this.  We found our bliss where Tony Bennett left his heart.  The Stinking Rose Restaurant celebrates all thing Allium sativum, mostly grown in nearby Gilroy.  After our first night out there many years ago, we reeked so badly Kathy thought for sure the hotel would have to burn our room before turning it around.  They have their own slender cookbook, which we bought and took home and still use regularly.  It’s still on Amazon, and somebody’s selling their used copy for 10 cents!

The recipes are a little fussy, mostly for all the damn garlic cloves you have to peel!  Fortunately, I’ve received a Christmas present from one of my sisters that does that job pretty well.  In that cookbook, with a vampire picture side opposite, is the Vampire Mary recipe.  Tho’ incredibly fussy, my dear wife has mastered it and is willing to make it at the drop of a hat.

Kathy and I got to wondering if that fussy one-bloody-mary-at-a-time recipe could be expanded into a big ol’ bottle for bloody mary mix?  Excuse me, Vampire mary mix.  The next game was to be the last one of the year, against our biggest rival, the dreaded, hated, and lately unbeatable Buckeyes of The Ohio State University.   Plus, since the Big 10 expanded their season some years ago, Thanksgiving plunks itself in the days leading up to Ohio State.  So distractions in that week abound, and Kathy and I didn’t get around to our tomato juice experiment till Friday.  We got on to making our multiplications, conversions and adjustments, and I think we came up with something pretty good.  Here’s our recipe:

48 oztomato juice
2 tsphot pepper sauce (we used Smack My Ass and Call Me Sally)
1 tspbitters
160 mLWorcestershire sauce
4 tspprepared horseradish
8 clovesgarlic, finely chopped
½ tspsalt
¾ tspground pepper
2limes, juiced
2lemons, juiced

Bring to total volume of 64 oz adding tomato juice

We made 2 bottles of this, using the bottles the bulk tomato juice came in.  Pretty handy.  We carried one to the game, but this time could not spot Mike’s SUV anywhere.  We bumped into an acquaintance at another tailgate, but aparently he was not sufficiently into their inner sanctum to have the standing to invite us in.  Tailgate etiquette is complex.  We left our bottle of treasure behind a recognizable post.  We went to the game, got our asses beat again after a hopeful first half, and left depressed, not helped when we couldn’t find our bottle.  But we’ve mastered the recipe, and have repeated it many times over.  Vampire marys now are just too easy, and as much a part of our after church late breakfasts as eggs, bacon and muffins.  The stuff is so good, you could drink it without the vodka!  But naahh.  Like all diehard Wolverine fans, we look hopefully to next season.  Besides a better quarterback, we’ll have maybe-becoming-a-friend Mike’s tailgates to look forward to.  Kathy and I will be there, helping to up his bloody mary game.

Reference: Dal Bazzo J.  The Stinking Cookbook.  Berkeley CA: Celestial Arts, 1994.  ISBN 0-89087-730-0


Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

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