Tracking down a cocktail's provenance is a tricky business to be sure. To begin with, the history of mixed drinks is oft viewed through eyes clouded by its subject. Also, a cocktail's origin is commonly obscured by rowdy bartenders who contentiously claim to be the progenitors of the drink in question. I most often defer the argument to sources I trust, like Robert Hess, co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans with another trusted source, Dale DeGroff.
Today, New Yorkers are celebrating the "birth" of the Bloody Mary, which they claim occurred in the St. Regis Hotel on this date in 1933. The date may be in question, but the creator is not. According to Robert Hess, Ferdinand "Pete" Petoit actually created the drink at Harry's Bar in Paris in 1920. Petoit took his drink with him when he moved to New York where, the cities lushes claim, he "perfected" the drink by adding Tobasco.
I'll leave it to scholars to hash out the details, but I'm happy to take any opportunity to celebrate one of my all time favorite drinks.
The Bloody Mary, considered by many the meatloaf of cocktails, is so many things: a healing elixir, a Sunday ritual, a salad in a glass, an excuse to imbibe before noon, an unflagging brunch companion, and a medium for unbridled creativity.
A Bloody Mary set before you on the bar, while regrets and triumphs from the night before slosh around behind your bleary red-rimmed eyes, is a sacrament to the clay-footed deities of drunkenness. Each sip is either a promise of never again, or a bridge to renewed vigor and increased resolve to plunge once more, head first, into debauchery.
The basic Bloody Mary, according to the new Mr. Boston bartender's guide is as follows:
1 1/2 oz Vodka
4 oz Tomato juice
1/4 oz Fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Worcestershire
4 dashes Tobasco
Pinch of salt and Pepper
Combined and stirred, this is the bartender's Gessoed canvas. From here, all things are possible. I prefer to add Sriracha, horseradish and a proprietary blend of vinegars, spices and gumption. The garnish is also integral--and the more ridiculous the better. Give me bacon, cubes of meat, oysters, pickles, celery, pickled peppers, whole antelope... I want it all in there, including the kitchen sink.
The Bloody Mary has been the cure for paupers, poets, pawns and kings since it came into being. It's said that Al Jolson was particularly fond. Al Jolson, you, and me--who knew we had so much in common?
There isn't any better way to blur that border between weekend and weekday. It causes the wall of responsibility to become soft and porous--the better to pour yourself into Monday. So go out today and have one, wont you? Maybe for lunch? After all the Mr. Boston guide calls it "the drink that drinks like a meal." Bon appetite!
Ultimate Blogtown Bloody (revised)
1 1/2 oz Pepper Vodka
4 oz Tomato Juice
2 dashes Worcestershire
1/4 oz Lemon juice
1 tsp Horseradish
1/4 oz Juice from Hot Pickled Peppers
2 dashes Sushi vinegar
pinch Lawry's seasoned salt
pinch Ground black pepper
I slice crispy bacon
Combine all ingredients (except for bacon and sushi vinegar) in pint glass. Pour back and forth between pint glasses (also known as "rolling" the drink). Strain into a pre-chilled, ice filled glass. Float sushi vinegar on top and garnish with crispy bacon slice, lemon wedge and hot pickled pepper. Enjoy.