Let me paint a picture for you, if I may. You’ve made it all the way through last call, and you’re now standing at an urban street corner, it’s the wee hours of the morning, and you are about to stumble home. Across the street is a block of dilapidated row houses, with a hand full of prostitutes milling around with cigarettes, likely just a few hours into a long nights work. There are drug dealers as well, dolling out heroin and morphine in plain sight. They’re not worried about getting caught, partly because they have 8 gills of morphine pulsing through their veins, but mainly because both drugs are completely street legal. The bartender from the dive you were just in walks out the door with a bucket, and pours the contents onto the street. The liquid is redder than a raw steak. The patrons had gotten rowdy, per usual, and a fight broke out. Knives, forks, fists, boots, and broken glasses were thrown, and plenty of blood, spit, and vomit, spilled on the floor. After the bartender mops it all up, the water in the bucket is truly gruesome. The city is Chicago, the year is 1915, the intersection is 19th & Armour Ave, and the bar you just got kicked out of, is affectionately nicknamed, “The Bucket of Blood”.
Now, one of the bar’s patrons made it out alive, believe it or not, and ended up in Paris, sometime around 1920, at Harry’s New York Bar. Behind the bar was an American by the name of Fernand Petiot. Fernand starts slinging a drink in the mornings, and one of the patrons says that the drink reminds him of this old bar in Chicago, The Bucket of Blood. The guy goes on to tell what was probably a humorous tale about a girl that worked there, named Mary, and likely went on to tell of the terrible things he and/or she did together. This haphazard turn of events, may very well be the tale of how a 50/50 mix of vodka and tomato juice turned into the drink we know today, as:
THE BLOODY MARY
In 1964, Fernand told The New Yorker that after he left Paris, and started making the drink at the King Cole Bar, at the St. Regis Hotel in NYC, the American drinkers liked it, but they felt it was a bit bland. Petiot began tweaking the drink and spicing it up, eventually ending up with the recipe as it now stands.
The validity of Fernand’s story is difficult to prove. There are others that claim they invented it first, but as it stands, Mr. Petiot had the best publicity, so he takes the crown.
- 2 oz Vodka
- 2 oz tomato juice
- A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 0.5 oz lemon juice
- 4 dashes salt
- 2 dashes black pepper
- 2 dashes cayenne pepper
- 1 stalk celery
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; 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 over ice in a Collins glass.
Garnish with a celery stalk.
This is the original recipe. Most modern recipes omit the cayenne, and opt for dashes of Tabasco sauce instead. It makes sense. It doesn’t have to dissolve like the cayenne, and thus mixes in faster. But, if you’re feeling fancy, and like spicy, but don’t like Tabasco (me) try substituting the dashes of Tabasco, for equal amounts of Sriracha. You’ll love me forever, if you don’t already.
If you want a little Canadian flare (do Canadians have flare?) to the drink, use Clamato juice, switch the lemon for a lime and cover the rim of the glass with celery salt, and you’ve got yourself a Bloody Caesar.
Irish Coffee (I’m sure at some point, I’ll cover this one in full, but for now, it’s extra credit.)
If you know anyplace in your town that makes some mean Chicken & Waffles, then get some of that, or if you’re a regular Gladys Knight, you can make it yourself.
Or fix yourself a Cobb Salad.
SIDE NOTE: I had totally wanted to do this write up on Mama Juana, but it's too hard to obtain outside of the Dominican Republic and damn near impossible to make yourself if you don't live there. That said, if you do have access to some, drink the shit out of it over a game of dominos and save the Bloody Mary for your inevitable hangover the following day.