Brunch without Bloody Mary's is like a summer without sun - it's a necessary element that's good for what ails you; and it's the perfect way to kick start your morning (especially if you're still nursing your hangover from last night). The Bloody Mary has been a staple in the cocktail scene for decades. Just how many decades is still under debate.
The story most generally accepted among the cocktail community takes us back to Paris in the early 1920's to the famous Harry's New York Bar. Harry's was founded in 1911 by Harry MacElhone upon the advice of his friend who encouraged him to dismantle his bar in New York and relocate it to Paris, France. Years later, while prohibition was in full swing in America, a french bartender named Fernand "Pete" Petiot was tending at the famed Paris bar where he concocted the rudimentary version of The Bloody Mary. Legendary authors such as Hemingway and Sartre frequented the bar to partake in this and other famously unique cocktails.
Years later, after Prohibition had been repealed, Petiot moved to Manhattan and began overseeing the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel. He brought his recipe for The Bloody Mary with him and it was here that he perfected the recipe as we know it today by adding horseradish, Tabasco sauce, lemon juice and celery pepper.
A livelier - yet less believable - version of the Bloody Mary's history by Weekly World News dates the origin of the drink to the mid 1550's during the reign of the merciless Queen Mary I in England. "The tomato juice represents the blood spilled, while the vodka, a 'firewater,' is symbolic of the queen's brutal means of executing the martyrs."
The beauty - and sometimes downfall - of the Bloody Mary is the room the recipe gives for creativity. Upon the base ingredients of tomato juice and vodka one can add almost anything. This freedom can make for one hell of a drink, or one "what the hell is in this" drink. I had never quite met a Bloody Mary that I could stomach. If it wasn't too much horseradish and pepper, it was an unholy union of spirit and tomato juice. But as a restauranteur and student of the cocktail craft, this challenged me to create a Bloody Mary that I could stand behind. Bold flavors from non-traditional ingredients and specific mixing techniques combine to make 320 Main's unique take on this cocktail.
The Bloody Mary requires a mixing technique called "throwing" that is most typically used for drinks containing vermouth - like the El Presidente. Heavily spiced drinks like the Bloody Mary also improve with this technique in which the drink is poured from one mixing tin to another in a long stream. The slamming of the concoction into the catching tin will release the esters in vermouth or the aromas in spices, opening up the drink. Other variations that we've made on the original recipe of your standard tomato juice, vodka and Worcestershire sauce was the addition of Sriracha Rooster sauce instead of Tabasco, caper juice in place of a salted rim, and cumin. The cumin gives our Bloody Mary a smokey flavor, which is what makes it a little different from some of the others out there.
One detail concerning the Bloody Mary that there is no argument about, is its appropriate time of consumption. In the wise and witty words of Wayne Curtis, "The Bloody Mary is not an evening drink—those who consume it after the sun has set possess personality defects and are to be avoided. It is, however, a known antidote to the common hangover, and those who drink it in the morning are to be regarded as people of great knowledge and unerring discernment."