Drunken Shrimp Cocktail

If you find yourself with some head-on shrimp, try using the heads & shells to create this drunken shrimp cocktail.

Drunken Shrimp Cocktail

If you find yourself with some head-on shrimp, try using the heads & shells to create this drunken shrimp cocktail.


  • 8 oz head-on shrimp, (heads & shells removed and reserved, shrimp de-veined)
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • ½ white onion, (medium dice)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, (whole)
  • 1/2 cube of fresh ginger, (peeled & finely minced)
  • 3 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 4 oz vodka
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt, (to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, (to taste)


  • Peel and de-vein shrimp and set cleaned shrimp aside in fridge.
  • To do this, pinch off the heads, remove the exterior shell, and make a small incision laterally along the outside edge of each shrimp to expose the small brown/black thread that is contained inside.
  • Remove this brown thread and rinse the shrimp with cold water if necessary.
  • During this process, reserve the shrimp heads and shrimp peels.
  • Place the shrimp heads and shrimp peels in 4 cups of tomato juice with the minced white onion, lemongrass, and ginger and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  • During the final few minutes, drop in the cleaned shrimp and cook for roughly two or three minutes until the shrimp is barely cooked through.
  • Remove the shrimp from the cooking liquid just before it is fully cooked and place in a bowl at room temperature.
  • Place shrimp in fridge to chill.
  • Strain out the cooking liquid and keep the liquid that remains.
  • During this process, press any liquid out of the shrimp heads and peels through the strainer.
  • Cool the strained liquid mixture uncovered in the fridge until chilled.
  • When ready to serve, whisk the prepared horseradish into the chilled tomato juice mixture and add the vodka.
  • Pour into glasses over ice, and garnish with the blanched shrimp from earlier.
  • Enjoy this cocktail with extra garnishes of your liking, including lemon wedges, pitted olives, celery stalks, pickled pearl onions, dill pickle spears, or even some pickled okra!


If you have prepared the shrimp stock a day or two in advance, feel free to re-heat the amount of stock required for use in the cocktails and chill before preparing the cocktail. When the stock is cooled, mix with remaining ingredients and enjoy.
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