A Spicy BJ Martini

I make no apology for the name. This martini is named after my Aunty, Bethan Jane, without whom the drink wouldn’t have happened. The name has stuck very firmly in our family – and it’s delicious.

This is essentially a Gibson martini but made with pickled beetroot rather than a pickled onion, and it has a couple of drops of Tabasco sauce (or other hot sauce) added to taste for a bit of a kick.

This is a savoury, piquant and nicely coloured martini for beetroot lovers, with just a splash of added fire.

As with some of the best martinis out there, the subtlest of changes to the ingredients can have the most profound of impacts on the final drink.

You could call it a Spicy Beetroot Gibson if you liked, much like the way supermarkets have rebranded Porn Star Martinis as Passion Fruit Martinis. But no-one will forget the name Spicy BJ.

We came up with the drink accidentally at a family get together. I’d written a list of martini options available for the guests which included:

Most people in the family tend to go for the classic, but Aunty BJ was struggling to make her mind up.

“The words ‘spicy’ and ‘beetroot’ are both triggers for me. I like anything spicy and I’m obsessed with beetroot. I can’t make my mind up if I’d like the spicy or the pickled beetroot Gibson. Could I have them both in the same glass?”

I realised that, absolutely, she could! It’s very easy.

So here’s the recipe:

  • Similar to the Gibson Martini, chill your gin/vodka and glasses in the freezer for several hours.
  • Pour a small measure of vermouth into the glass.
  • Pour in around 2-6 teaspoons of pickled beetroot juice/brine.
  • Add in a few drops (to taste) of Tabasco.
  • Top up with gin or vodka. This should be around 80-120ml or 3-4 US fluid ounces, depending on the glass you are using and your personal preferences.
  • Thread some pickled beetroot onto a cocktail stick (or longer yakitori stick if you want something more substantial and dramatic).
  • Use this to gently stir the drink then either slide it into the glass or lay it balanced on the top.
  • Serve.

Normally a Gibson only has one pickled onion in it. Depending on the size of your pickled beetroot you might want to cut them down, or serve a baby one. Alternatively if you’ve got someone who loves beetroot why not give them several to enjoy?

Be careful! Firstly, this drink is addictive. Secondly, that fantastic red colour can end up EVERYWHERE. Have a cloth, tea towel, paper napkin and professional cleaning team on hand when you’re pouring these because you will almost certainly end up with red spillages here and there and it WILL look like a murder scene, or at the very least like you had some sort of MMA session in the kitchen.

Take particular care if you’re wearing white!

The martini goes really well before a seafood meal and is a fantastic accompaniment to oysters. It’s also going to be right at home with all food and appetisers from the Slavic world. Miniature blini are a fantastic accompaniment.

The coloured pickle juice means that it doesn’t contain as much alcohol as a classic martini, so this is a great choice for anyone who sometimes finds martinis too strong. And if you want a full strength martini, either use less pickle juice or try out a Navy strength gin.

In Turkey, pickle juice is sometimes served as a hangover cure, so if you’ve got any left over from a round of Spicy BJs, be sure to have it handy for the next morning!

And now a little bit more about Aunty Bethan, because she has contributed quite a few things to this blog. She is a former air stewardess with British Airways and can still recite the onboard safety announcement (in English AND Arabic no less).

She also used to provide the first class service on London to Moscow flights where the expectations of vodka and blini quality were intense.

Bethan taught me ‘the Russian test‘ which is when you remove a bottle of spirits from the freezer. A layer of frost should form on the bottle that is so thick you can scrape it and some of the frost is left under your fingernail. If there’s no frost under your nail, it’s not cold enough.

Cheers to my aunty, our very own spicy BJ!

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