My love-hate affair with tomato juice began in earnest a few years ago, when I rolled the dice on a small glass at Mom’s house and—figuratively, anyway—the hair on the back of my head stood up on end. It was gross, in the same way that the Campbell's tomato soup Dad favored and the V8 tomato juice Mom savored had always been gross; but it wasn’t as oppressively gross as I’d found it in my youth. All of a sudden large bottles of V8 Spicy Low-Sodium were finding their way into the grocery store shopping cart and jolting me awake on those rough mornings when I felt courageous enough to indulge. Healthy living as tastebud masochism: the final frontier. Who knew, right?
Anyone who has done time in snack aisles is painfully aware that diversification is the beating heart of consumable product development, and few of these products are less interesting than tomato juice. Perhaps this is why V8 recently upped the ante, and why I’m sipping Sea Salt & Clam tomato juice as late afternoon gives way to evening. Small sips only, because this shit packs a wallop. It smacks your mouth around, a sour liquid riot of tart oceanic brine running roughshod over whatever tomato elements remain in the mix; it shocks your system and pops your eyes wide open.
People who know me well understand that I abstain from hard liquor because, increasingly, high alcohol content shots are a bear to recover from as advanced age encroaches. How many impulse drinkers—people for whom the thrill of knocking back a half dozen shots of Jim Beam or vodka is more of an excitement then staggering home after closing time—could transition seamlessly and fruitfully, without shame, from Grey Goose blackouts to V8 Sea Salt & Clam binges?