If you are a Bloody Mary connoisseur, you likely mix your favorite Bloody Mary's for weekend brunch without a second thought. However, when you break it down, Bloody Mary is quite an odd name for a drink, don't you think?
The history of the Bloody Mary is both very clear and extremely hazy. What we do know, for sure, however, is that:
It started in Paris
Fernand Petiot first created a hangover cocktail consisting of raw egg, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, spices, and cocktail sauce at the tail end of the 19th century. Marketed as a hangover cure, it was meant to be downed all at once to give the body a reboot after a hard night out.
After the Russian Revolution, Paris became flooded with Russian immigrants who brought with them their favorite type of drink - vodka.
Petiot debuted a drink called the Red Snapper at Harry's New York Bar in Paris soon after, which blended vodka with tomato juice and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Voila, the first iteration of the Bloody Mary was created.
Petiot then moved to New York City and is believed to have added Worcestershire sauce and other spices into his signature tomato drink, inventing the current brunch drink sipped worldwide.
Ernest Hemingway loved them
Ernest Hemingway was a great author. His novels are still top sellers around the world. He had a way with words. He also had a way with drinking.
A notorious imbiber, Hemingway first tasted the Bloody Mary in Paris and liked them so much, he made the concoction in bulk. His combination was simple and called for a liter of vodka, a liter of tomato juice, an entire bottle of Worcestershire sauce, two limes, and three punches of celery salt, black pepper, and cayenne.
I guess Hemingway liked them stiff.
The Bloody Mary was named after a British queen, or was it?
Nobody knows for certain how the moniker "Bloody Mary" came to be, but there are a few common theories.
Queen Mary Tudor
Queen Mary I, or Queen Mary Tudor, ruled England from 1553-1558 and is best remembered for the slaughter of English and Irish protestants under her rule. The brutal carnage got her the nickname Bloody Mary after her death.
There is no direct correlation between Petiot's creation in Paris and the British queen or specific evidence that he made the drink about the woman. Still, this theory reigns supreme over most.
Petiot's Buddy at the Bar
While working in New York, Petiot served his famous concoction to a patron who said the drink reminded him of the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago, which sported a similar red drink with a thicker viscosity than most. The patron's favorite waitress in the club's name was Mary. By some accounts, that drinker was American entertainer Roy Barton.
Jessel and Warburton
American actor and entertainer George Jessel has one of the most legitimate cases as the Bloody Mary phrase coiner. Jessel claims to have named the Bloody Mary in 1927 in Palm Beach, Florida, after a night of drinking.
In need of a hangover cure, he claims to have mixed vodka with lemon, Worcestershire, and tomato juice to kill the vodka's smell. After Mary Brown Warburton went to take a drink of the creation but spilled it all over her white dress, Bloody Mary was born.
Additionally, the first printed Bloody Mary reference was in 1939 in the New York Herald Tribune, written by Jessel himself.
Chicago added in the celery
In 2020, Bloody Marys come in all shapes and sizes and have been popularized all around the United States and around the world. Bloody Marys now include garnishes such as olives, carrots, cilantro, bacon, or even full cheeseburgers.
In the beginning, though, the Bloody Mary came with a single garnish - the celery stick. Allegedly, the first-ever place to offer a celery garnish with the drink was Bitch McGuire's in downtown Chicago. According to the website, the bartender forgot to give a patron a swizzle stick, so the visitor instead grabbed a nearby celery stick to mix the drink. Just like that, the Bloody mary garnish was born.
A pint of black peppercorns was infused into the vodka
When Petiot brought the Red Snapper to King Cole Bar in New York City in the early 1930s and turned it into what we call the Bloody Mary today, his recipe called for a dash of liquid pepper. Liquid pepper at the time was a homemade concoction that steeped a pint of black peppercorns in vodka for six weeks.
The pepper was smashed down into bitters-sized pieces and gave the vodka a very spicy taste. Introducing the spicy Bloody Mary.
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