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Sunday, Bloody Sunday

I’ll have a number of shorter entries coming soon with new beer reviews and an update on my own foray into home brewing. But right now I’m still recovering from this past weekend’s Extreme Beer Fest, so I thought I would kick this week off the way I ended the last one: with a Bloody Mary.

The Bloody Mary, like scotch, seafood, and my girlfriend’s cat, is one of those things that I initially hated and that now holds a special place in my heart. On a Sunday morning (or, who are we kidding, a Tuesday night), when it’s fresh and mixed just right, there are few joys in life like the Bloody Mary, to say nothing of its power to drag you back from the land of the dead, Lazarus-styleThe only negative about a Bloody Mary is how easy it is to make a poor one. The main culprit here is of course the litany of crappy pre-made Bloody Mary mixes on the market. Since I’ve yet to come across one that I totally enjoy as-is, I decided it was time to make my own.

Working off a recipe from the ever-helpful Imbibe Magazine, I began with my ingredients:

2 lbs. Roma tomatoes
1 lb. carrots
6 celery stalks
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 oz. fresh lemon juice
3 cloves roasted garlic*
1 tsp. horseradish
2 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. celery salt
2 tsp. each fresh ground salt and pepper

*The recipe I worked from didn’t include garlic, but rather suggested using a homemade garlic-infused vodka. As I only have one bottle of vodka at home, and as not many cocktails call for garlic-infused anything, I decided to simply include garlic in the mix instead.

I began by blending the tomatoes and using a fine mesh strainer to separate the pulp from the juice.


Then, after chopping the celery and carrots, I blended them with the roasted garlic and roughly half a cup of water, and again used the mesh strainer to separate the juice.

I then added the rest of my ingredients to the mix, which immediately taught me a valuable lesson: when making Blood Mary mix, use a container with a wide top. Trying to stuff tomato paste and drop tablespoons of spices down a long, slender bottle top sucks. Trust me on this.

After finally getting all the ingredients in the bottle, I gave it a vigorous shaking to ensure they blended together evenly, and then let it sit for a bit to allow the mix to settle.**

**Shaking a Bloody Mary adds too much air to the mix and makes it frothy when it should be nice and thick. After shaking your mix to blend it, let it sit and settle for a few minutes before drinking it.

Finally, my Bloody was complete. Sadly, I didn’t have any good garnishes to crown it with, and so ended up using The World’s Saddest Pickle™***


***Trademark Ryan Peet, 2013

Sad pickle or no, it was still absolutely delicious. Not surprisingly, it tasted extremely fresh, which is the most important part, and had just a bit of heat to keep it lively. I should note I used much less horseradish than the original recipe called for, so if you like that vile root, you’ll probably want to up that amount to at least 2 Tbsp.

All in all, this was an extremely satisfying first go with my own Bloody Mary mix. I’ll definitely be making more soon, and playing around with some different additions; jalapeños and fresh basil both come to mind as soon-to-be-in-season ingredients that would make nice variations. I might also add a little more tomato paste to thicken it up just a bit more, and possibly some more hot sauce or Siracha. And lord knows I’ll be picking up some olives (or possibly pickling my own vegetables) so that I never have to insult my freshly made Bloody with The World’s Saddest Pickle again. But until then, this version will do. Oh yes, this will do.


Are you a Bloody Mary fan? What’s your absolute must or must-not include ingredient? Where’s your favorite place to get a Bloody Mary? 

The Real 1%

Before I get into my thoughts on mankind and the possibility of life in the cosmos, allow me to geek-out for a minute and discuss what may be the world’s nerdiest man-crush.

Neil DeGrasee Tyson is the Director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium, an astrophysicist, an author, the host of the StarTalk Radio Podcast, and an all around snappy dresser. But beyond that, he is a learner, and a teacher. You can spend hours on YouTube watching his lectures, his debates, his Q&A sessions, his U.S. Senate testimonies, and what sticks out beyond everything else is the never-ending passion he has for science and learning. It’s almost as if every time he speaks he’s rediscovering the wonder in his words. And when you’re discussing everything in our universe, from the nooks and crannies to the great unknowns, there’s plenty of wonder to go around.

How do you not love a man with this veset?

How do you not love a man with this veset?

It certainly doesn’t hurt that Tyson’s words are usually exquisitely chosen; that he has a gift for turning science into poetry. Take in a few of these lines from this 12-minute video that inspired this post:

“The elements of the periodic table, that which we are made of, derived from the action of stars that have manufactured the elements, exploded, [and] scattered their enriched guts across the galaxy.”

“Not only do we exist within the universe, it the universe itself that exists within us.”

“It would be inexcusably egocentric to suggest that we are alone in the cosmos. The chemistry is to rich to declare that, the universe, too vast. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand in all the beaches in the world. There are more stars in the universe than all the sounds and words ever uttered by all the humans who have ever lived.”

Beautiful. And it’s this last idea that leads into what Tyson calls a “fascinatingly disturbing thought” and that got me thinking about life outside of our own.

The first question you have to ask is, “is there other life in the universe?” Basic math tells us that yes, there is. It starts with our existence. That’s one count of life around one star (for these purposes, all life on Earth will be counted as one). Now, our star is one of somewhere between 200-400 billion in our galaxy, the Milky Way. And our galaxy is one of an estimated 100-200 billion galaxies in the universe (an estimate that falls on the conservative side, mind you). With this in hand, a conservative calculation of the number of stars in the universe lands somewhere around 10 sextillion (10 with 22 zeroes after it), and could be as high as 1 septillion (1 with 24 zeroes after it). ONE SEPTILLION! Never mind the near impossibility of even comprehending what that number truly represents; to think that we are somehow the only planet around the only star capable and currently of sustaining life in the universe would be obscene.

The deceptive simplicity of space

The deceptive simplicity of space

So now the question becomes, if there is life, is it as advanced, or more advanced, than we are? Again, basic math overwhelmingly says “yes.”

The universe, as best we can calculate, is 13.77 billion years old. Meanwhile, our first ancestors arose only 2.5 million years ago, and what we would consider to be anatomically modern humans came about only 200,000 years ago. This means in the 13.770 billion-year history of our universe (we’re so insignificant we have to add another decimal point here just to do this math), life had roughly a 13.768 billion year head start on us to take hold somewhere else.

13.768 billion years vs. 2.5 million years. I think it’s safe to say that as a planet, we’re playing catch-up here.

This brings us back to Tyson’s “fascinatingly disturbing thought.”

In short, Tyson notes that chimpanzees are our closest genetic relatives, sharing roughly 99% of our DNA, and that the most brilliant chimp there ever was could do a little bit of sign language, which our toddlers can also do. This means everything that we “are,” that makes us human – our poetry, our science, our philosophy; our Eiffel Tower, our Hubble Telescope, our Pyramids – is bound up in just that 1% of DNA chimps don’t share. So maybe, Tyson wonders, the difference between chimps and us isn’t really as great as we think it is.

So what would we be to another form of life 1% different from us in the way we’re 1% different from chimps? As Tyson puts it, we’d be “drooling, blithering idiots in their presence.” Every day we have brilliant scientist around the world, the highest representation of mankind’s intelligence, theorizing and debating all sorts of mind-bending ideas to sort out the truth behind our universe – string theory, anti-matter, dark matter, dark energy, multiverse scenarios – and we’re nowhere close to knowing the truth. But for life 1% ahead of us? “Quantum mechanics would be intuitive to their toddlers.”

So you ask, “If there’s life out there, why haven’t we detected it?” For that answer, I would refer you back to the number of stars in the number of galaxies in our universe, remind you that those are only estimates extrapolated from the minimal amount of the universe we’ve actually studied, and then drop the mic. Assuming that we should have detected life if it’s out there is just as “inexcusably egocentric” as assuming that we’re the only life to be found.

Then why hasn’t it contacted us? Assuming it even knew we existed, the answer surely lies in that that 1% difference (or, and how cool would this be, that 2%? 5%? 20%?) I’ll refer once more to Tyson, who puts my answer a little more bluntly: “When was the last time you stopped to have a conversation with a worm?”

So the way I see it, yes, there’s clearly life in the universe. And no, I don’t think little green men are watching us from afar. Again, they probably have no idea that we even exist. But the difference between them as us is, they know someone definitely exists. And that knowledge is just part of what makes them real 1%.


What are your thoughts? Are we alone in the universe? Is there life out there that we just have found yet? Or life that’s found us and decided we’re not worth it? Or is there another possibility I’ve overlooked? Share your thoughts!