The Bloody Mary

Your cocktail calendar entry for: January
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Today our drink of interest is the Bloody Mary, even if it’s not a drink for New Year’s Eve.  Why, you ask?  Because January 1 is National Bloody Mary Day and it’s the right cure.  A recovery cocktail, breakfast in a glass, is a good way to start the year.  We’d also advise that after the year we’ve all had the concept of a Dry January is a non-starter.  As your guide to cocktail consumption, today we strive to ensure your shelves are properly stocked before the morning of January 1 arrives.

It’s not like there isn’t any history for December 31 itself.  The East India Company was founded that day in 1600, so last time around we mixed up the East India Cocktail.  And, of course, there’s more.  Thomas Edison first demonstrated the incandescent light bulb to the public in 1879.  Sir Anthony Hopkins was born in 1937.  In 1759 the Guinness Brewery somehow signed a 9,000 year lease for its brewery site.  All good stuff.

But let’s face it.  Beyond a Black Velvet (equal parts Guinness and Champagne) there aren’t many cocktails making good use of Guinness.  And we’re not about to proscribe fava beans and a fine Chianti.

That’s why for New Year’s Eve itself we’re leaving you a few suggestions, but then doing our duty to help you recover January 1.

As mentioned above, the East India Cocktail is certainly a good, historical choice.  Of course many thoughts turn to Champagne or other sparkling wine drinks.  If you’re inclined to go down that path we might suggest the French 75.  If you start earlier in the day a few Death in the Afternoon cocktails might just be appropriate.  And, of course, there’s always the Negroni Sbagliato.  Pretty much whatever you feel like is reasonable.

The Bloody Mary

The origin of the Bloody Mary, much like the Martini or Margarita, is hotly contested.  Hungover American drinkers in the early 1920s opened cans of stewed tomatoes to drink the juice.  Vitamins, you know.  There were really two serious claimants as inventors of the Bloody Mary:  George Jessel and Fernand Petiot.

George Jessel, an actor and comedian, claimed to have first mixed tomato juice and vodka in Palm Beach, Florida, in 1927.  Fernand Petiot was a French Bartender who worked at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris and then moved to the St. Regis Hotel in New York.  Petiot claimed to have invented the Bloody Mary in 1921 while at Harry’s, but that was nothing more than tomato juice and vodka.  Harry’s, of course, likes to claim it was invented there.

There’s no good evidence to back up either claim.  Jessel was associated with the drink by the late 1930s, while Petiot ran a vodka bar at the St. Regis in 1936 and claims to have added the spices there.  Then, of course, New York’s 21 Club claims it was invented there in the 1930s by bartender Henry Zbikiewicz.

The bottom line is we’ll never know.  But what we do know is that the Bloody Mary is for day drinking and has remained popular for decades.  As David Embury noted in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, it’s “A classic example of combining in one potion both the poison and the antidote.”  It’s also eminently malleable and there is no single definitive Bloody Mary recipe.

By the way, if you’re averse to the tomato juice you could always try the Breakfast Martini.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

While the Bloody Mary calls for tomato juice and vodka, it'e eminently malleable. It’s a Bloody Maria if you use tequila, a Red Snapper if you use gin, a Cubanita if you use rum and a Bloody Shame if you don’t add alcohol.  We do not condone that choice. If you use Clamato in lieu of tomato juice it’s a Bloody Caesar, the national drink of Canada. Past your spirit of choice it’s also pretty much free reign when it comes to garnishes.  Except for tiny paper umbrellas.  Please reserve those for Tiki drinks.
And yes, you can use a pre-made mix for this one if you must.
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Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 4 oz Tomato juice
  • ½ oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dash Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • 2 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Horseradish
  • 1 pinch Celery salt Feel free to adapt spices to what you have on hand, the recipe is not set in stone.
  • Ground black pepper
  • Garnishes: go wild. Pretty much whatever you like. Celery, pickle spears, green olives, tomatoes, parsley, shrimp, tater tots. People have been known to skewer sliders and place them atop the drink.

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients to shaker or mixing glass.
  • Mix gently. If using a shaker simply roll over multiple times, do not shake hard. We recommend stirring as you want to minimize dilution of the drink to keep the tomato juice on the thick side
  • Pour into ice filled glass.
  • Garnish to your heart's content. Make it breakfast.
  • Drink.
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