What Is a Bloody Mary?

The one good thing about the morning after a big night out

The standard brunch cocktail and alleged hangover cure has a long-standing tradition as part of daytime drinking, especially when it comes to getting over the effects of last night’s imbibing. The drink, which has been around since the early 1900s, is unlike most other classic cocktails in that the recipe for the drink seems to be almost completely free-form, only really requiring tomato juice, alcohol, and just about whatever else the bartender feels like adding in.

The drink, like any other that goes this far back in bar history, has many people claiming to be its inventor. The most likely story of its creation involves famous actor and drinker George Jessel, who in New York in 1939, claimed to have had a new drink called “The Bloody Mary,” made with equal parts tomato juice and vodka. Fernand Petiot, former bartender at The King Cole Room, later supported his claim, but said that when making Jessel’s bloody mary he would also throw in salt, pepper, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon to the mix. As for the name, people have credited the drink to any number of Marys, including Queen Mary the First, actress Mary Pickford, and even a waitress named Mary who worked at a Chicago dive called The Bucket of Blood.

As for the modern day bloody mary, it seems as though today's bartenders have become inspired by how customizable the drink is. While the generally accepted standard ingredients list includes vodka, tomato, juice, salt (or flavored celery or garlic salt), ground black pepper, Tobasco, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and lemon juice, there are many ways for drink-makers to put their signature twist on the cocktail. From house-infused vodkas, to tomato water, to beef jerky and candied bacon garnishes, there are inumerable ways to give the bloody mary a unique expression.

Overall, it seems there is really no wrong way to make the drink — especially considering that if you are in any condition to need a bloody mary, you're probably not sweating the small stuff.


Click here for the Not-Very-Bloody-Mary recipe.


Click here for the Bleeding Mary recipe. Click here for the classic Bloody Mary recipe.