We've already mentioned Richard Horne, the man behind our Best Bloody Mary in L.A. top pick. But what we didn't tell you about the Fig Santa Monica bartender, who has been shaking there from day one, is that he has a thing for straws. Really good straws.
"You'd be surprised how hard it is to find a good straw," Horne says, trying to shove as many Dixie black straws into a display container on the bar as he possibly can. "Especially one that's black like this."
While we tend to be indifferent to straws, preferring to pluck them out of most cocktails, we do like them in a Bloody Mary on occasion for that spice-distribution factor. "Oh yeah," agrees Horne. "A Bloody Mary is the one cocktail you really want that straw so you can keep stirring -- so the first sip tastes as more like the last. Otherwise all the spices settle."
Horne also is a firm believer in using better vodka in a Bloody Mary (we asked if it really mattered, with all the tomato juice and heavy spices). "Oh, it definitely matters," he said. "We let the customer decide, that's why [the house Bloody Mary] is listed on the menu as market price," says Horne of his namesake Richard's Secret Recipe Bloody Mary.
"House-wise, we often use Absolut, but I prefer Kettle One hands down. The distillery made gin before they got into making vodka, and it just tastes more refined."
As with any Bloody Mary devotee, Horne is as obsessive about the garnish as he is about the cocktail. It's a pretty simple concoction, just a toothpick speared with two fat olives. He balances the toothpick on top of the glass, tucks a lemon and lime wedge on the rim, and smiles as he turns the finished cocktail around. "I call it Fraggle Rock."
Ah, another day of Saturday morning cocktail and cartoon fun in L.A.
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More from Jenn Garbee @eathistory + eathistory.com