The bar manager at Honu Kitchen & Cocktails in Huntington is the Long Island first-place finalist for this year’s NYC Bloody Mary Mix Down. George Bein mixes up one spicy ginger and shares some of his secret recipe.
Long Island Pulse: Do you remember the first time you made a Bloody Mary?
George Bein: Oh, man. I don’t remember the first, but I do know it took a few years to get that first recipe perfect. And that recipe in some form has followed me around for the last three decades. My first time was probably sometime in 1980 or ’81. I’ve been in the restaurant industry, bartending on Long Island for 35 years now.
Pulse: Tell us about your Bloody Mary at Honu.
GB: It’s morphed through the years from me tinkering with it and from customers recommending things. My latest is called The Chesapeake, a nod to the Chesapeake Bay area because of the Maryland hot sauce and Old Bay spiced shrimp garnish. We debuted it when we started brunch here and it pairs well with a lot of the items.
Pulse: What’s in it?
GB: There’s vodka, tomato juice, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, both sweet and dry vermouth, horseradish, onion juice, celery root purée, lemon, lime, the Old Bay shrimp and we have a chili tortilla crust to rim the pint glass that gives a thick coating. That, the Old Bay and the celery root are the most recent additions and they really elevated the complexity of it, gave it a great accent of spice. When we first created it for the contest, Mark [Zecher, owner of Honu] thought it’d be fun to use a Maryland crab leg as a garnish.
Pulse: Your recipe won the NYC Bloody Mary Mix Down, tell us about the competition.
GB: Yes, I won the Long Island preliminary earlier this year, it featured about 20 bartenders. That was a lot of fun, and it showed how diverse the Bloody Mary can be; it’s like a food dish. Every bartender—and they were all great—they seemed to have their own spin on it. One bartender made one that was dark brown, almost a black color. And another made his wearing rubber gloves, like a chemist. [Laughs.]
Pulse: Is that why you have such an affinity for the Bloody Mary, the creativity involved?
GB: Definitely. I’d say that’s why I’ve loved making cocktails over the years, the creativity and the ability to put your own stamp on something. Bloody Marys, in particular, have always reminded me of comfort, a warm Sunday afternoon, curing your hangover. It often brings me back to the days I had a boat on Fire Island and my friends and I, we’d all go around, dock it at a restaurant and order a round of Bloodies. It was always a great feeling to do that.