I’m not going to lie; it took me several days to work up the courage to try The Bay. It’s vodka, infused with Chesapeake Bay seasoning. The same salt-heavy spice you put on shrimp and crabs. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to put bay seasoning on everything from fish to mashed potatoes, but vodka?
I let the bottle sit on my bar for days, then gave it a go, sipping it over ice first. It smelled like a low-country boil and tasted a lot like, well, vodka, that’s been hanging out on a shrimping boat in a Maryland harbor. Not bad. Then I sipped it straight from the bottle because I’m a journalist and journalists go the extra mile in pursuit of the truth. And here’s the truth. Straight from the bottle, The Bay is surprisingly drinkable. A little briny up front followed by the heat of both the alcohol and the seasoning.
But The Bay isn’t supposed to be a sipper. This vodka has a nearly singular purpose in life—to make kick ass Bloody Marys. There’s a recipe for a basic Bloody Mary on the bottle, and more versions on the website. I made my own version (see below, but I’ll give you a hint, there’s bacon) using a healthy dose of The Bay as the foundation.
And this is where The Bay shines, adding a subtle tang and extra layer of complexity to the standard Bloody Mary. It tastes like having brunch with Captain Ahab. And I’ve always wanted to have brunch with Captain Ahab. The Bay may be a one-trick pony (it would probably make the worst Cosmo ever), but turning my Bloody Mary into a salty, tangy experience is a hell of a trick.
Distillery: Philadelphia Distilling
City: Philadelphia, Pa.
Here’s my recipe for the perfect Bay Bloody Mary.
6 ounces of Bay Vodka
4 ounces of V8 (you’ll be tempted to choose a fully-concocted Bloody Mary mix, like Zing Zang, but don’t. Go with something understated, maybe even straight tomato juice, so The Bay stands out).
Juice from a few lemon wedges
Pickle asparagus spear
Olives (three, stuffed with jalapenos)
Dash of worcestershire
Dash of hot sauce (I like Firewalker, because of its hint of citrus).
Strip of bacon (just because)