Every year, at the end of the summer, I find myself thinking about the same cocktail. It’s not a particularly amazing drink that I can recollect child hood memories of, or even a drink that my father and I like to bond over. Nothing quite as romantic or nostalgic as that I’m afraid. The drink that I revisit every year is The Ghost of Mary.

I’m not sure where I heard of the idea, or when I came across a reference to it, but since that moment I have revisited making that cocktail every Summer. The Ghost of Mary is a Bloody Mary that is made with tomato water instead of tomato juice, and the idea is that the cocktail is clear, but the flavor will remind you of a Bloody Mary. Every summer I try a different variation of tomato varietals, clarification techniques, and different recipes trying to create this drink. This year I came across a new technique that I thought would get me closer to my goal of a perfectly clear Ghost of Mary. Cryo-Freezing.

This is what happened to Han Solo:

Cryo Freezing, what is it?

Since we couldn’t get our hands on a large vat of Carbonite, we chose the next best thing, our freezer. The theory is that when you put tomatoes in the freezer, the cells begin to let out water which freezes on the outside of each of the cells. When you bring the temperature up (let the tomato thaw) the water will drip out of the tomato and you can collect perfectly clear tomato flavored water.

In the past I have used the traditional way of making tomato water. Basically you get a bunch of tomatoes and through them in a food processor and turn it into a puree. You then strain the puree through layers of cheese cloth and let it slowly drip into a bowl. What you are left with, a few hours later, is a slightly yellow, clear tomato water.

How to do it:

The process of making tomato water could not be easier. Basically you just freeze a few tomatoes, then place the tomatoes in a colander with a bowl under it and allow them to thaw. As it thaws, you will see a light yellow liquid begin to collect in the bowl. Now you have tomato water. You can freeze them again and repeat the process to extract more tomato water from the tomatoes.

Easy enough right? Me being the nerdy person that I am regarding cocktails, I ran the experiment 3 different ways. In one group, I used full size tomatoes in the experiment. In the second I quartered them and the final one, I chopped them up. I was really interested in finding out if there would be a difference in clarity and the final yield of each group.

I was pleased to find that the clarity was pretty consistent through all three groups, but the yield was higher, and the rate of thawing was greater with the chopped tomatoes. I did notice that the first time I allowed the tomatoes to thaw, the water was more clear then the second thaw, but I am sad to say that it did not achieve what I was hoping to find. Looks like I will have to revisit this cocktail again next tomato season.

Ghost of Mary recipe:

  • .75 oz Sotol Platinum
  • 1.0 oz Martini and Rossi Dry Vermouth
  • 2.25 oz tomato water.
  • half a bar spoon of simple syrup
  • bar spoon of Sugar Cane Vinegar

Stir all ingredients with ice to chill and dilute. Strain into a martini glass lined with Bloody Mary Salt.*

To make Bloody Mary Salt combine the following in a small bowl

  • 1/2 cup of Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 dashes of Tabasco
  • 2 teaspoons of Worchestershire Sauce

Stir all ingredients together and pour onto a microwave safe plate. You want to spread out the mixture to have as thin of a layer of salt as possible. Microwave the plate for 1 minute. This should be enough time to evaporate the moisture in the salt and make it dry enough to work with. Store in an air tight container.

Try your hand in Hans Solo-ing some fruits and veggies and let us know the outcome in the comments below!

Stir all ingredients with ice to chill and dilute. Strain into a martini glass lined with Bloody Mary Salt.*

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.