Billed as the ultimate cure for hangovers and yet another one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinks (at least I know he’ll always have me beat), everyone is familiar with the Bloody Mary. I would also venture to guess that most people who are cocktail drinkers have tried one at some point in their lives, and those of us who are cocktail makers have our own variations that we think are the best. The beauty of the Bloody Mary is that once you get beyond the vodka and tomato juice, you have complete creative control over the remainder of the ingredients. Most versions of the recipe will include Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and some lemon, but the amounts are totally within your control. New Yorkers tend to think it’s not a Bloody Mary without horseradish, so the above list would be incomplete for them. Add in some clam juice and you’ll have a Bloody Caeser, and you can even serve it with a fresh clam in an endive boat on the side (according to Dale De Groff). Sangrita and tequila will give you a Bloody Maria, and subbing Aquavit for vodka yields a Danish Mary. You see where I’m going here; the variations are endless and you can certainly come up with one of your own.
The cocktail is believed to have originated in Paris in the 1920s at Harry’s New York Bar, a spot frequented by Americans living there during Prohibition. Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot was working there at the time and he came up with a concoction made from vodka, which was a new spirit just arriving on the scene, tomato juice, and a few spices. He called it a Bucket of Blood. It became so popular among Americans drinkers that Vincent Aster wanted Petiot to serve it at his newly opened King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhatten. Petiot gladly accepted and made the move to New York city, where he changed the name of the drink to the Red Snapper and added in horseradish, tabasco, lemon juice, and celery salt. The modern Bloody Mary was born. There are 6 versions of this cocktail on the menu at the recently restored King Cole Bar, where it’s still called the Red Snapper. You can sit at the bar daily on a first come, first serve basis and study the huge mural behind it that was painted by Maxfield Parrish in the 1930s. John Jacob Aster IV had commissioned him to do the painting before Aster was tragically lost on the Titanic. Supposedly there are secrets about the mural that only the bartenders will tell you… Road trip anyone?
The recipe I use as a basis for my Bloody Mary comes from Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail. I increase the vodka by a ½ ounce and I like to experiment with adding in just a bit of another spirit. This time I used Von Humboldt’s Turmeric Cordial that I recently received from Tamworth Distilling and it complemented the tomato and spices perfectly. I’m not a fan of horseradish, but I do like celery salt, and I always add a bit more Tabasco. Celery is my garnish of choice. How do you like your Bloody Mary?
1½ oz Bleu Storm vodka
½ oz Tamworth Distilling Turmeric Cordial
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
6 dashes Tabasco sauce
Pinch of salt and pepper
¼ oz fresh lemon juice
4 oz tomato juice
Dash of celery salt
Combine all the ingredients into a mixing glass or a shaker tin with ice. Roll (or pour) the mixture from one container to another to mix together well. Tomato juice should not be shaken. Strain into a goblet, Collins, or pint glass filled with ice. Garnish with a celery stalk, and lemon and lime slices or wedges on the side. Feel free to improvise. Enjoy!