Mary Tudor was made Queen of England and Ireland in 1533. Queen Mary favored an alliance between the throne and the Vatican, and in service of that goal, she was a fairly zealous persecutor of Protestants, and that is why she was nicknamed “Bloody Mary.”
As for how a vodka-tomato juice-celery salt morning-after favorite created in the 1920s came by the same name, accounts are less straightforward. If you check the calendar, there is an “official” Bloody Mary Day, but to borrow (and alter) a phrase from Chandler Bing, “every day is Bloody Mary Day.” Recipes are almost endlessly varied; Though the basic, non-negotiable ingredients are vodka and tomato juice, it’s almost never that simple, and ordering a Bloody Mary can get you anything from spiked tomato juice to a green smoothie that happens to be red (and alcoholic). Back in the dot-com nineties, one of my favorite San Francisco weeknight bars, the Orbit Room, would serve a Bloody Mary that had such an exuberant array of garnishes it legitimately doubled as a salad and required an extra-long straw to even get past the plumes of celery leaves and fennel fronds and spikes of Italian olives and cucumbers and pickled string beans. Man, those things were so good. And for young techies on a budget, that beverage was a handy way to get your veggies and take the edge off.
As to whether the fabled restorative properties of the Bloody Mary are a placebo effect phenomenon or real, as far as I am aware the jury is not officially in, but odds are good that if a Bloody Mary makes you feel better after a long night, you’re probably not making it up. The salt (and usually celery salt and Worcestershire Sauce) is vital for replacing lost electrolytes (tomatoes are inherently also very high in sodium). The vegetables perched on the rim of the glass are hydrating and replace B-complex vitamins. The capsaicin in hot sauce mediates blood flow to your brain and has a subtle pain-killing effect. And you know what, a shot of vodka isn’t a true fix for a hangover but it will feel like one for a bit, giving you a chance to regroup, rehydrate, and… make different choices.
Here are a variety of Marys (and one Snapper!) to help you through this cold January weekend. They range from batch-friendly to petite, and from Southwestern to South Asian, and for those who feel everything is better with bacon, there’s something for you as well. And remember, it’s for medicinal purposes, so it’s fine.
The Garden Affair
Greenbar Distillery, Los Angeles, CA
2 oz. Greenbar Distillery Garden Vodka
1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup
1/4 Red Bell Pepper
2 dashes hot sauce
Directions: Cut a quarter red pepper into small pieces and place in shaker tin with all other ingredients and ice. Shake hard until your shaker tin goes frosty and the bell pepper is broken up. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with fresh cracked black pepper and a slice of bell pepper.
Davio’s Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary
Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse, Irvine CA
Recipe yields 8 drinks total
4 cups San Marzano tomato juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh horseradish
2 teaspoons of Tabasco
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups vodka/tequila/gin
Directions: Mix all ingredients and serve over ice with garnish(es) of choice. Davio’s recommends stuffed blue cheese olives, pepperoncini, small celery heart stalks with leaves, small Gherkin pickles, and lemon/lime wedges.
The Blind Pig Kitchen + Bar’s Chip Off The Old Block
Blind Pig Kitchen and Bar, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA
1.5 oz. London Dry Gin
.5 oz. Kina Aero D’or
1 oz. Lime juice
.75 oz. Pico de Gallo Syrup (Made from sunburst tomatoes, pearl onions, strawberries, cucumbers, & cilantro)
Bittermens Orchard Street Celery Shrub Bitters
Directions: Combine all ingredients (except pico de gallo) in cocktail shaker with ice and shake hard. Double strain and serve over rocks. Serve with a chip n’ pico de gallo garnish.
Bacon Bloody Mary
Coastal Kitchen, Dana Point, CA
2 oz. House Bacon-Washed Vodka
5 oz. Cutwater Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
4 dashes Tapatio
Directions: Rim a pint glss with Tajin seasoning and fill with ingredients. Add ice and bacon slice garnish.
For the bacon-washed vodka: Add two tablespoons of cooked bacon fat to a mason jar of vodka. Let sit for several hours. Freeze for 30 minutes, strain the bacon fat from the vodka using a coffee filter.
Photo credit Rick Liston Photography
This is the grown-up cousin to the much beloved hangover cure, the Bloody Mary. Red and snappy. Bold, spicy and savory.
1.5 oz. Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin
2 oz. tomato juice
.75 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. chili sauce
.5 oz. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large glass. Add ice and stir to chill. Garnish with a celery stalk, lemon wedge, and salt and fresh cracked pepper.
From Bittercube Bar and Bazaar, Milwaukee WI
1 1/2 oz. spirit avocado washed tequila (see below)
4 1/2 oz. bloody mix
2 dashes Valentina hot sauce
2 dashes Bittercube Corazon bitters
Directions: Rim glass with sal de gusano. Build in glass, add ice. Stir and garnish with cheese, pickle, chili stuffed olive and onion.
For the avocado-washed tequila: Blend 1 L tequila with 209 g warm avocado oil. Freeze overnight and then strain.