rome black mary

Adventure in a Glass: Rome’s Squid Ink-Infused Black Mary

There’s a new savoury and provocative cocktail in Rome; and it’s an iconic Italian seafood pasta dish turned into sophisticated booze.

It’s called Black Mary, and though the name might recall Bloody Mary, this is more than the usual hangover cocktail with tomato juice ordered across the world. This one is not blood-red: It’s pitch black.

All the ingredients that would normally be eaten as a main course for dinner, are instead finely mixed together and sipped in an elegant martini glass for aperitivo.

black mary

Launched in summer 2023 by Co.So cocktail bar in Rome’s Pigneto neighbourhood, it’s the alcoholic metamorphosis of a very popular spaghetti dish served in central and southern Italy. Called spaghetti ‘al nero di seppia e pomodoro’—(spaghetti with black squid ink and tomato sauce), the squid ink is the key revolutionary ingredient of Black Mary.

The tantalising black liquid is served inside a sleek iced martini glass, topped with a kafir leaves floating foam previously boiled and poured over before the cocktail is served. The black of the fishy ink is finely juxtaposed to the white of the delicate foam.

We were looking to reinvent the traditional, classical Bloody Mary cocktail by creating something extravagant, and found inspiration in our Sicilian heritage,” says Co.So. co-owner Riccardo Bucci, born in Catania.

As kids growing up in Sicily my business partner and I loved to indulge in platefuls of delicious spaghetti with squid ink mixed with tomato sauce, a recipe with a very distinctive taste which calls for strong palates. So after some brainstorming, we thought, why not turn the dish into a signature cocktail as black as the recipe.

His partner Benedetto Guarrino, is from Syracuse, and it is customary for Sicilian teenagers to kill time in summer diving in clear waters to fish squids and take the catch back home for their mums to cook.

Provoking New Taste Sensations

Spaghetti with nero di seppia however is not a recipe for everyone—one either loves it or hates it because of the very particular taste. And the same goes for Black Mary. Bucci says the goal was not to shock clients by turning fish into booze, just to shake up their taste buds a bit and provoke new sensorial reactions.

It’s been experimental, but now it’s become a success, our key signature cocktail that distinguishes us from other bars. We’ve put together all the classical Bloody Mary ingredients with those of our childhood pasta dish, bar the spaghetti of course”.

The dense squid ink liquid, with a slight fishy flavour which makes Black Mary “sharper” than the original Bloody Mary, is counterbalanced by the delicate taste of the kafir leaves foam and the lemon, says Bucci.

Black Mary has become a ‘must’ drink among Co.So’s clients, who are lured by the curiosity to try the ‘squid ink cocktail’.

What makes this cocktail special (other than the fishy ingredient) is the tantalizing effect it has on taste buds. At first clients are shocked at the thought of drinking something they’d normally eat at dinner—seafood, additionally mixed with the Worcestershire sauce which also contains garlic—but when they start sipping the black alcoholic concoction they’re pleasantly surprised by its unique taste.

And as this original recipe can only be found at Co.So bar, which has always been an avant-garde drinking establishment in the Eternal City, the spot has become quite popular among Rome’s cocktail amateurs.

Also interesting: 100 Best CocktailsSimple Mixed Drinks – The Best Vodka Cocktails

How to Make the Black Mary Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • Vodka
  • Squid ink tomato
  • Lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Kafir foam

Recipe:

  1. Put all the ingredients into the shaker and mix them up using the throwing method.
  2. Pour the mixed liquid into the iced martini glass and put it on top of the kaffir foam *put the dry kafir leaves in the boiled water and then let it cool down*

Buon appetito!

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