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Bloody Mary "Ants on a Log" Recipe

My wife's relatives in Florida love their Bloody Marys and this is her modernist take on them, focusing on the celery garnish and turning it into the serving vessel a la the traditional "ants on a log" children's snack.

Bloody mary agar log close wide

I made a custom Bloody Mary mix using fresh tomatoes from the garden blended with some string beans, cayenne chile powder, ancho chile powder, and lemon juice. This mix also works great as a quick chilled tomato soup. You can also use your favorite store-bought Bloody Mary mix if you don't want to make your own version.

I added the vodka at about a 1 to 4 ratio with the Bloody Mary mix but you can change the amount to suit your taste. Just be sure to weigh the liquid at the end and adjust the agar agar to be 1% of that weight.

The agar agar solidifies the Bloody Mary mix and we use that gel to fill the celery sticks.

These agar Bloody Mary bites can be served as a course during a meal or as appetizers before or during a party.

Modernist Tools, Ingredients, and Techniques Used

If you would like more information about the modernist techniques, ingredients, and equipment used in the Bloody Mary "Ants on a Log" recipe you can check out the following.

If you like this recipe you can get it and more than 100 other recipes that will help you create remarkable cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and small plates that will amaze your friends. It's all in my book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Party Foods - Get Your Copy Today!

Also, if you are just getting started experimenting with molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine then I highly recommend one of these molecular gastronomy kits. They have everything you need to do many different dishes.

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Bloody Mary Recipe "Ants on a Log"

  • Published: August 24, 2012
  • By Jason Logsdon
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Total Time: 60 Minutes
  • Makes: 40 to 60 bites
Agar bloody mary gels

Bloody Mary "Ants on a Log" Ingredients

All measurements are by weight unless otherwise indicated.

For the Agar Bloody Mary Gel

250 grams Bloody Mary mix (8.8oz)
60 grams vodka (2.1oz)

3.25 grams agar agar, 1% (0.12oz)

For the Crumbled Bacon

6-8 bacon strips

For the Garnish

Fennel fronds
15-30 green olives, sliced

5 to 10 celery stalks

Bloody Mary "Ants on a Log" Instructions


For the Crumbled Bacon

Cook the bacon strips until all the fat is rendered and they are extra crispy. I tend to bake them in a 350°F (176°C) oven on a rack set over a sheet pan until crisp, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Pat off as much oil as possible with a paper towel and let cool. For extra-crumbly bacon you can put the cooked strips in a dehydrator for a few hours.

Place the strips into a food processor and process until it becomes a chunky, crumbly paste.

Set aside until ready to use. It will last at room temperature for an hour or two or in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Note: You can also reserve the rendered bacon fat to make bacon powder for other dishes.

Prepare the Celery

Celery sticks

Place the celery stalks on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan or other flat tray. Make sure the celery stalks are sitting so they can hold the liquid, you may need to cut the bottom 1/8" off the stalk so they sit flat.

For the Agar Bloody Mary Gel

Combine the Bloody Mary mix, vodka, and agar agar in a pot and whisk or blend together. Bring to a boil while whisking occasionally. Let simmer for 3 minutes to ensure the agar agar is fully hydrated.

At this stage the agar gel will set very quickly once it cools below 113°F (45°C). I recommend keeping the pan on the burner, turned down, to keep the gel from setting as you work on filling the celery.

Celery sticks filled

Spoon or pipe the hot Bloody Mary mix into the prepared celery stalks. Some will probably spill out on the sides or ends, which is fine and you can easily clean up the stalks once the agar sets.

Wait about 2 minutes, until the first mix has set, and then add another layer on top of it. Repeat until the celery is full of Bloody Mary mix.

Pour the remaining Bloody Mary mix into a flat bottomed container to a depth of about 1/2" to 1" / 12 to 24mm.

Let the celery and the block of gel sit until they have set and then cover with cling wrap and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to plate, up to 24 hours.

Plating the Dish

Bloody mary log close Clean the agar agar Bloody Mary gel off the sides of the celery so they look nice and clean. Cut the stalks into 1" / 24mm pieces.

Remove the block of agar Bloody Mary gel from the container and slice into 1/8" / 3mm strips. Cut the strips into the same length as the celery pieces.

Place a strip of the Bloody Mary gel onto a plate or serving container. Top with a piece of the celery, turned 90° from the gel. Place a slice of olive on top of the celery and fill with bacon crumbles. Add a fennel frond or two and serve.

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Bloody Mary "Ants on a Log" Recipe

PT60M 40 to 60 bites Ingredients: All measurements are by weight unless otherwise indicated. 250 grams Bloody Mary mix (8.8oz) 60 grams vodka (2.1oz) 3.25 grams agar agar 1% (0.12oz) 6-8 bacon strips Fennel fronds 15-30 green olives sliced 5 to 10 celery stalks