The Bloody Mary
It’s not a drink you’re going to smash all day long at a beach bar, nor is it something you will find James Bond sipping on at the Monte Carlo Casino. There is, however, one Arena where this classic cocktail stands head and shoulders above all other contenders – as the morning after revival drink. Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time to chat about…
In it’s simplest form, The Bloody Mary consists of only two ingredients: Vodka and Tomato Juice. Yet it is often described as the world’s most complex cocktail. Let’s delve into it’s mystery to find out why.
As far as inventions go, combining a flavourless spirit with a fruit juice isn’t exactly an Earth shattering revelation. Somebody would have stumbled upon the combination eventually and it was only a matter of time. So there is every chance that Bartenders in different corners of the globe were inventing the tipple without prior knowledge that somebody had beaten them to the punch (a concept known in scientific circles as multiple discovery).
There have been a few mixologists wanting credit for the discovery of the Bloody Mary over the years, here are the most likely pioneers in the order of the dates they claim to have created it:
French bartender Fernand Petiot claimed to have invented it in 1921, at the New York Bar in Paris, a frequent hangout for consumate pisshead Ernest Hemingway.
New York’s 21 Club claims a bartender named Henry Zbikiewicz invented the drink at their establishment in the 1930s. Other’s claimed a local drinker at the bar, comedian George Jessel, created the drink – he was then credited with it’s creation in a gossip column in 1939.
Life magazine presented the recipe for the Bloody Mary in an issue of their magazine in 1942, but claimed it was a new cocktail named “Red Hammer”. Cheeky sods.
Finally in a 1964 interview with New Yorker magazine, Fernand Petiot puts claim to the modern Bloody Mary. He acknowledges Jessel’s claims, but says the drink was a bullshit of mix of just Vodka and juice – and it was his own tinkering of spices that made the classic we know today.
If we can’t agree on who invented the damn thing, then we pretty much have no hope of confirming the origin of it’s name. Here are the three strongest contenders in the namesake sweepstakes anyway:
If you thought the history of the drink was tricky, wait until you get into the actual creation of the cocktail. We live in a bold new era of cocktails, where TV shows such as Mad Men and Sex and the City have taken what were once obscure delicacies and crashed them straight into the public consciousness (find me a modern bar that doesn’t serve a Cosmopolitan). You would be hard pressed to find a bar that doesn’t employ at least one self-proclaimed “Mixologist”, and nothing allows more creative freedom than tinkering with the components of a Bloody Mary. Most establishments like to put their own unique swing on the drink. You could visit half a dozen bars on the same street, and never get served the same Bloody Mary twice.
Before we get too carried away, let us look at the Official Recipe as certified by the International Bartender’s Association:
The beauty of the Bloody Mary, is that it is basically a miniature meal. Find an ingredient that compliments the tomato flavour, and you could smash it into your drink. I’ve collected a few items from various Bloody Mary recipes to create a list, but I’m not going to list every ingredient possible, or else we’ll be here all fucking day. Here’s the tip of the iceberg:
It’s a slippery slope to wander down, as these ingredients will happily gel with Tomato Juice, they might not play that well with each other. It’s fairly easy to “confuse” the flavours, and more than once a hapless drinker has concocted a monstrosity while tinkering with his creation. To muddy the waters even further – you can swap the Tomato Juice with pretty much any vegetable juice; Carrot and Beetroot are two of the more popular modifications.
And if the endless seasoning ingredient list wasn’t enough of a mind fuck for you, try swapping the liquor itself for these mutations:
What a list. The Bloody Maria is a nice tipple, but that’s not much of a surprise, as the spice and juice required for these kind of drinks compliment Tequila wonderfully. The Michelada is also very refreshing, but a less obvious union of flavours. Beer and Tomato Juice? Who would have thought (and as a side note: drop vodka, beer, tomato juice and a raw egg into a drink, and you got yourself a Red Eye hangover cure as seen mixed by Bryan Brown in the film Cocktail).
I haven’t come across the rest of the list yet, and frankly, I’m not sure that I want to. It’s not wise to judge things I haven’t tried, but the rest of the combinations look like they would really be pushing the friendship flavour wise. How does one even order a Rum and Tomato Juice without sounding like they have lost their fucking mind?
There are no doubt many other spirits that could enter this realm (a mate and I once drank Kahlua and Tomato Juice on a dare…I don’t recommend it), and if that wasn’t enough, you could remove the tomato juice altogether to create a Bloodless Mary. Like I said, listing every variation of the Bloody Mary is an impossible task. By the time I finish typing this sentence, somewhere in the world there’s a bartender who has created a brand new variation nobody has seen before.
But enough about ingredients, because it’s time to get to the real kooky part…
Serve a Martini in anything but a Martini glass, and you’re gonna get slapped in the face. The Bloody Mary, however, is a nomadic warrior princess that calls no receptacle her home. Sure the highball glass is her traditional venue, but I’ve been served a Bloody Mary in wine glasses fit for a Royal wedding, to old jam jars and everything in between. It’s completely up to the bartender, and you could get it in a beer mug or a coffee cup – you won’t know until it’s staring you in your fat fucking face. And as per the garnishes…hoo boy. Let’s settle you in gently. Here’s a few traditional method of a Bloody Mary with a touch of flair added to the traditional celery stick:
Now here are a few Marys with slightly more pizzazz:
Now buckle up, coz shit is about to get REAL:
Bathe your eyes kids, because when bar-tending ingenuity like this is a constant factor – ISIS will never, ever truly win.
You can’t always let your local bartender do the hard yards for you, and if you’re looking at necking a Bloody Mary before 11am or after 3am, well you’re going to have to make the damn thing yourself. If you are feeling creative, and have the time and energy to amass a stockpile of ingredients – then you could spend a good chunk of time experimenting with various combinations until you find your ideal mix. It’s like your very own cooking show, with the added bonus that you are getting delightfully wasted in the process. Personally, if I’m suffering on a Sunday after a heavy night out, I can’t be arsed dicking around a Supermarket collecting spices for an hour. But that’s the best part about a home-made Bloody Mary, get your hands on a decent mixer and 90% of the work is done for you.
What you don’t want to do is go for a generic tomato juice, as most are too watery and don’t pack any punch – producing a piss poor Bloody Mary. For a spicier and more flavoursome venture, try to get your hands on one of these bad boys:
(Side Note: Clamato has clam juice, which automatically converts the Bloody Maria into a Bloody Caeser).
Better still, when you are at the liquor store picking up the vodka, try and get your hands on a pre-made Bloody Mary Mixer. In my opinion, you can’t go past Master of Mixers’ 5 Pepper Bloody Mary Mixer.
This bitch has got an awesome fiery kick to it. Not so hot that it ruins the drink, but pussies beware – it will create a lingering heat in your mouth. I drink about 5 billion litres of this stuff a year, and you know what? Forget all that other shit and just buy this instead. Go to your local liquor store and ask for the 5 Pepper Mix – and tell em Uncle Beef sent ya.
Scientists have disproved a lot of the old wive’s tales of the healing properties of the Bloody Mary. But here’s one thing those Egghead Fuck-Squirrels can’t take away from us – just how god damn refreshing this drink is. That is why it is the best morning after beverage. You don’t have to wait for the onslaught of a hangover either, if you find yourself on a night out with a substantial gap between drinks (for whatever reason), then make your next tipple a Mary – and the nose of the plane will be back up before you know it.
Speaking of planes…ever notice that airline trolleys are always stocked with the ability to provide ample Bloody Marys to the passengers? The cocktail is a massively popular choice for in flight transit, and the German airline Lufthansa sells as much tomato juice as they do beer. The fact the fucking Germans are choosing anything over beer is a marvel in itself. Why is that? Well, Scientists tell us that the incessant drone of an aircraft diminishes out ability to taste some flavours – but Tomatoes are rich in ‘umami’, a flavour enhancer meaty enough to cut through. So while that beer you’re sipping in-flight might not have the same punch it did on the ground, the Bloody Mary tastes as fantastic as it always does.
I couldn’t bash your brains to the tune of 1700 words without recommending a spot in Adelaide to buy the best Bloody Mary. For my money, you cannot go past the Aussie BBQ Mary at the Collins Bar inside the Hilton Hotel. From their website:
“A unique and utterly different twist on the classic mary, made with bacon-washed vodka and lashings of our secret spiced BBQ homemade mary mix, served long with a garnish of crispy bacon and cherry tomato.”
Yes you read correctly, Bacon Vodka. They even stick the drink in a bell jar and smoke it up before serving. I have been known to walk nine blocks out of my way to get one of these. Trust me, it’s fucking superb.
GOD BLESS YOU, BLOODY MARY.