Everyone has their definition of what makes the perfect Bloody Mary. Some folks think it needs to be peppery. Some like to add in a splash of clam juice (I know, I know…it sounds kind of gross, but it’s actually quite good). And then there’s the topic of garnishes: celery, olives, pickled green beans or asparagus, hot peppers…pretty much anything your heart desires.
But here’s the thing. In my opinion, the perfect Bloody Mary is a well-balanced one. Seeing that this drink is often consumed after a night of partying, it should have just enough booze to take the edge off without actually getting you wasted. There should be a good kick of black pepper and a zip from the lemon juice. Garnishes should be present, but they should not be overpowering (if you go to a restaurant and they load your glass with a ton of veggies, it probably means there’s not much in the way of vodka).
Since I’ve already explained a bit about what the drink is, let’s get straight to the history.
What’s the story behind the Bloody Mary?
The origins are a bit murky, but here’s what it looks like: the foundation of the drink was first created by Vaudeville actor George Jessel, who would mix together tomato juice and vodka. However, the Bloody Mary we know of today was created at Harry’s Bar in Paris in 1920 at the request of Vladimir Smirnov, the successor of the Smirnoff Vodka Distillery. This spiced up version came from bartender, Fernand Petiot. Here’s a quote from a 1964 article in The New Yorker from Petiot on the matter of who created the Bloody Mary:
“George Jessel said he created it, but it was really nothing but vodka and tomato juice when I took it over. I cover the bottom of the shaker with four large dashes of salt, two dashes of black pepper, two dashes of cayenne pepper, and a layer of Worcestershire sauce; I then add a dash of lemon juice and some cracked ice, put in two ounces of vodka and two ounces of thick tomato juice, shake, strain, and pour.”
The Bloody Mary has undergone a lot of makeovers over the years…but no matter how you serve it, it’s bound to be tasty.
Yield: 1 drink
Glassware: Highball glass
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) prepared horseradish
3 oz (90 ml) tomato juice
1.5 oz (45 ml) vodka
1/4 oz (8 ml) lemon juice
Pitted green olives
1. Add a few dashes of black pepper, the horseradish and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce into a highball glass.
2. Pour in the tomato juice, vodka and lemon juice, and stir gently with a spoon.
3. Add a few ice cubes.
4. Garnish with celery stalk, lemon wedge and olives (recommended, but optional).
Brian Samuels is Managing Editor at The Boys Club and blogger at A Thought For Food.