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What Is a Bloody Mary?
A Bloody Mary is a vodka cocktail that features tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and a mix of herbs and spices. Bartenders typically serve Bloody Marys in a tall glass, like a pint glass or Highball glass. A Bloody Mary is similar to a Michelada (which pairs tomato juice and hot sauce with light beer) and a Bloody Caesar (which mixes vodka with briny Clamato).
A Brief History of the Bloody Mary Cocktail
Numerous origin stories surround the mythical Bloody Mary, all taking place in the 1920s and '30s. The Parisian bartender Fernand Petiot claimed to have invented the drink in Harry's New York Bar, which also claims to be the birthplace of classic cocktails like the Sidecar and the French 75.
However, the 21 Club in New York also claims to have invented the Bloody Mary—either by bartender Henry Zbikiewicz or by comedian and frequent patron George Jessel. When detailing the drink’s origin in his memoir, The Way I Lived (1975), Jessel says that while creating the drink, he spilled some on socialite Mary Brown Warburton, who gave herself the nickname “Bloody Mary” in reference to the red stains the drink left on her outfit.
Like the origins of the cocktail itself, though, the name Bloody Mary is mired in myth: The most common assertion is that it is named for Queen Mary I of England, who earned the nickname "Bloody Mary" during her reign.
What Ingredients Are in a Bloody Mary?
A classic Bloody Mary features vodka and tomato juice, with an assortment of spices and seasonings that vary according to location and preference. Traditional ingredients include Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic, and horseradish. Bartenders generally season the drink with celery salt, kosher salt, and black pepper, and finish it with a garnish of green olives, a celery stick, and a lemon wedge.
The Bloody Mary has long been a bartender favorite for its highly customizable template. Wolfgang Puck’s version features heirloom tomatoes and jalapeños for an extra kick, while mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Lyan Mary features spiced sherry.
Homemade Bloody Mary Recipe
Prep Time10 min
Total Time1 hr 10 min
- 6 cups tomato juice
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (plus extra)
- 2 teaspoons celery salt (or 1 teaspoon celery seeds plus 1 teaspoon salt)
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 18 ounces vodka (or tequila for a Bloody Maria)
- Fresh lemon juice
- Dill pickle spears, lemon wedges, green olives, or celery stalks, for garnish
- Combine tomato juice, lemon juice, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, hot sauce, garlic salt, and black pepper in a large pitcher or wide-mouth jar and stir or shake to mix.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days to give the flavors time to meld. Ingredients may separate, so stir or shake before serving.
- For a single drink, combine ½ cup Bloody Mary mix with 1½ ounces of vodka and ½ ounce of fresh lemon juice. Pour it over ice cubes and garnish with a celery stalk or dill pickle spear, a lemon wedge, and olives.
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