After passing through the grocery store aisles for years and eyeing the Clamato Juice cocktail with curiosity, I finally broke down and bought some. I actually resisted buying it for a long time, since its ingredients included high fructose corn syrup and food coloring. (Why high fructose corn syrup is bad.) It was also sort of a suspicious unnatural red color.
However, I couldn’t stand it anymore. One day I bought some. The whole idea of clams and tomatoes together was actually very appealing. Afterall, weren’t they the stars in my favorite Italian clams dish?
I have to say that I really loved the stuff. It was/is the perfect morning jolt, with enough flavor and salty sweetness to get me moving. I guess you could say I became addicted to Clamato. Have a midnight craving? Drink Clamato. Thirsty after eating a bag of pork rinds while working on the computer? Drink Clamato. Happy? Drink Clamato. Mad? Drink Clamato. Pregnant? But, at nearly $5 a bottle, it was more expensive than fricking orange juice. I went through 2 bottles a week.
As much joy as it was giving me, I cringed every time I put a bottle into my grocery cart or took one out of my fridge. Still high fructose corn syrup in there? Yep. Still strange coloring? Yep. Despite channeling subliminal requests (a la Richard Gere) to the Mott’s Company to amend their recipe, my favorite beverage was becoming a serious source of cognitive dissonance.
Observing my predicament one day, Mr. Artifact suggested, “Why don’t you make your own?” In fact, he even collected some ingredients at the grocery store for me. I tried a number of recipes that I found on the web from souls as conflicted as mine. But, they (the recipes) were weak approximations. Clam juice was the recommended ingredient to get the clammy flavor into the juice, but it was not coming through once diluted in the tomato juice. Mott’s appeared to use dried clams, which weren’t on my grocer’s shelves. Again, Mr. Artifact came to the rescue and brought home a can of clams (Snow’s, a product of USA. Yay!). These were liquefied in my trusty Oster Blender. And viola! This was a significant improvement, but still not kicky enough. We finally settled on adding some fish sauce, a key ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking. A few more improvements to get the tart, sweet and salty mixture resulted in the additions of Worcestershire Sauce, beef broth, catsup, vinegar, and lemon juice.
Mr. Artifact even made up an apt name and label: Whammo! Tom-Clam-O!
So, I’m still addicted, just not conflicted.
Whammo! Tom-Clam-O! Recipe Makes 8 Cups
6 C tomato juice
1C homemade beef broth/cooled (if you use bouillon, be warned that it may make the drink very salty)
6.5 oz. container chopped clams (in clam juice)
4 T lemon juice
2T red wine vinegar
2T natural catsup (no HFCS)
1 ½ T fish sauce
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
1t Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce or Tabasco (you may want less, so add only a little bit at a time and test in between)
Add clams (with juice from can) in blender and blend on high/liquefy for 40 seconds. If you notice that your clams have not completely liquefied, blend a bit longer. Add 1 C of the tomato juice and all the remaining ingredients in a blender. Blend until incorporated. It may appear pinkish and cloudy due to all the air infused during blending. Pour the mixture into a plastic or glass container/pitcher. It will need to be about 8 cups or 64 oz in size.
Add the remaining 5 C of tomato juice to your container with the mixture, and stir or shake to combine.
Affix Tom-Clam-O! Label.
Taste, wait a moment for the kick to develop, widen your eyes, and with a big look of surprise exclaim, “Whammo!”
Chill and display prominently on top front shelf in refrigerator.
This drink will improve in flavor after several hours of (not to get all scientific with you, but) ‘infusing and entwining’. It will become less opaque as the air bubbles diminish.