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Origins of the Bloody Mary Cocktail
Like most cocktail origin stories, the Bloody Mary is said to have been an improvised invention at a few different spots in the 1930s—including Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, and both the St. Regis Hotel and 21 Club in New York City. The origins of the name are unknown; depending on who you ask, “Bloody Mary” could refer to Queen Mary I, Hollywood actress Mary Pickford, or various waitresses and showgirls named Mary. In the 1940s, it appeared briefly under a new name, the “Red Hammer,” which, as you might guess, didn’t stick.
Classic Bloody Mary Mix Ingredients and Variations
- Tomato juice. Tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants like lycopene and Vitamins A and C, but they’re also high in glutathione, which helps the body fight off the alcohol-induced toxins flooding your system during a hangover. Health benefits aside, the bright, sweet acidity of tomatoes paired with the clean peppery notes of vodka is a match made in palate heaven.
- Worcestershire sauce. A traditional Bloody Mary gets its complex, deep umami from a dash of Worcestershire sauce—a secretive blend of fermented anchovies, molasses, onions, garlic, tamarind, and other spices.
- Horseradish. For a little extra heat, nothing lights up the sinuses like freshly grated horseradish, with its cool, wasabi-esque bite. Mix a teaspoon of freshly grated horseradish (or well-drained bottled horseradish) into the tomato juice mixture and pour over ice; adjust for heat preference.
- Hot sauce. Vinegar-driven Tabasco sauce has long been the go-to in a Bloody Mary, but experiment with different blends and brands to draw out different notes in the base spirit.
- The salt rim. Celery salt, sea salt, or chili salt (a 1:1 blend of sea salt and paprika or chili of choice, like ancho) draw out the natural tang of tomato juice.
- Clamato. Like its beer-based doppelganger, the Michelada, some Bloody Marys feature the briny Clamato juice as the base for an added mouth-watering salinity. (Adding a ½ oz of pickle juice gives tomato juice a similar effect.)
- The Bloody “Maria.” For a smoky, herbaceous take, substitute tequila or mezcal for the vodka.
How to Make the Best Bloody Mary
For a single serving of a basic Bloody Mary cocktail, coat the bottom of a glass with salt, pepper, a teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, two dashes of hot sauce of choice, and ½ oz. fresh lemon and/or lime juice. Add 1 ½ oz vodka and 4 oz of tomato juice, and stir well to combine. Sprinkle sea salt, celery salt, or chili salt (sea salt mixed with paprika) onto a small plate. Wet the rim of a highball glass with a lemon wedge, and press lightly into the salt for an even coating. Fill glass with ice, and pour in the Bloody Mary mixture. Taste, and adjust heat levels or seasoning as needed. Garnish with a celery stick, skewered olives, and a lemon or lime wedge.
Chef Wolfgang Puck’s Bloody Mary RecipeEMAIL RECIPE
“As a chef, I make cocktails which are chef-driven,” Chef says, “with ingredients right from the market.” Wolfgang Puck’s easy recipe for a perfect Bloody Mary is inspired by farmers’ market tomatoes, which he highlights by using his own freshly muddled tomato juice and a garnish of whole cherry tomatoes and lemon slices on a skewer.
- 2 heirloom tomatoes, quartered
- 2 jalapeño slices
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1 1/2 oz lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp horseradish, grated
- 4 oz vodka
- Salt and black pepper
- Place the quartered tomatoes and jalapeño slices in a cocktail shaker. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add simple syrup, lemon juice, and horseradish. Muddle the ingredients in a mixing glass, a pint glass, or a shaker tin.
- Add the vodka and ice. Cover and shake well.
- Place several ice cubes in a highball glass, and top with strained Bloody Mary contents. Garnish each glass with a stalk of celery and a skewer with a lemon wedge and cherry tomato.