Sometimes you need coffee, and sometimes you need a Bloody Mary.Mike Dirnt, American Musician
January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day, and what better way to celebrate the New Year than with some “hair of the dog?”
This year, we’re celebrating New Year’s Day by paying homage to this deliciously spicy classic. Let’s dive into the origin and art of the famous Bloody Mary!
The Bloody Mary is loved the world over, but where did it come from? Like all great things, there’s a bit of controversy over the Bloody Mary’s real inventor.
The first story suggests that the Bloody Mary was invented by Harry’s New York bartender, Fernand “Pete” Petiot, who started the trend by muddling fresh tomatoes and pouring them over vodka and ice for a refreshing twist.
Pete transferred to the St. Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar in 1934. This was where his vodka mixture was leveled up. Pete played with the new cocktail, experimenting with the addition of citrus and spices, util he harnessed the perfect balance of tomato, spice, and zing. He named his new concoction after his favorite taste-tester, a patron named “Mary,”—and a bartender’s star was born!
The second Bloody Mary origin story suggests that famed comedian George Jessel, desperate to nurse a horrific hangover from a club gig the evening before, stumbled half-awake into a Palm Beach Hotel restaurant, La Maze, at 8:00 am, grabbing aimlessly for a drink. Speculation is that Jessel concocted a tomato-vodka remedy he would end up declaring “the-latest-pick-me-up” drink, making the Bloody Mary both a cocktail and a cure.
Whether it was Pete Petoit or George Jessel who really invented the Bloody Mary, one fun fact remains: George may have met Pete while traveling the comedy circuit, sharing his anecdotal tomato-vodka “accident” while sitting at the St. Regis bar. Although Pete Petoit never claims meeting George, in a widely cited New Yorker article from July 18, 1964, he gives George “credit” for inventing the Bloody Mary and then himself for running with it.
So, if Pete and George were mixing tomatoes and vodka in the 20s, the only burning question left is…
Much like the origin of the Bloody Mary, the cocktail’s namesake is also a bit mysterious. Some believe it was attributed to the famous “Mary” who taste-tested Pete’s creations, or perhaps even the hotel owner’s wife. Others believe the delicious drink was named after Mary Queen I of England, or Hollywood star Mary Pickford, or the waitress named Mary in the film, Bucket of Blood.
No matter who truly invented or inspired it, let’s all give thanks for this simple, spicy mixture of tomato and vodka, which has since become a classic cocktail. Cheers to this healthy, tasty, and oh-so-smooth combination of scratch bartending, science, and fresh fruits and vegetables!
Now that we know a little about the origin of the Bloody Mary let’s get down to business.
Technically, if you gently swirl some smashed tomatoes into vodka and sprinkle with a few pantry staples—‘presto-chango” you’ve made yourself a Bloody Mary. Fortunately, in the universe that is cocktails, and due to the massive amount of creative energy bartenders possess, the Bloody Mary has transformed into a work of arty—and almost a whole meal in some cases!
Experiment with a range of craft vodkas like Reyka Vodka, Prairie Cucumber Vodka, and American Star Ghost Chili Vodka. You can also see what suits your tomato style best—a Bloody Mary mix or homemade?
While the base of a Bloody Mary is all tomato, all day, it’s amazing how creative you can get starting with only two simple ingredients. So, whether you prefer the classic version of a Bloody Mary, like Pete Patois made at St. Regis, or the perfectly layered Bloody Mary, which combines a garden variety of different ingredients, there’s most definitely a Bloody Mary out there for you.
Let’s mix up some perfect Bloody Mary’s!
On National Bloody Mary Day 2021, we raise a glass to Pete & George for creating one of our most versatile and beloved cocktails.
And to the bartenders, too, who continually challenge themselves to experiment with spirits, layering in perfect amounts of lemon, Worcestershire, horseradish, and just the right dashes of salt and pepper.
And here’s to the endless and brilliant garnishes like bacon, BBQ shrimp, stuffed olves, cheese cubes, beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, oysters. The sky is the limit!
Cheers to a classic! Happy New Year!
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