The world is seemingly divided into two camps, those who love Bloody Marys, and those who hate them. But we’re going to add a third to the mix: those who don’t like Bloody Marys, but maybe just haven’t found the right one yet.
The history of the Bloody Mary is about as varied as its recipes. A strong claim to its creation goes to the New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s (later renamed Harry’s New York Bar) by French barman Fernand Petiot.
Others believe it was conceived by American actor George Jessel, said by some to have created the drink while a frequent customer of New York City’s 21 Club.
Petiot disputed this. He said that Jessel’s creation was simply tomato juice and vodka. It didn’t incorporate Petiot’s inclusion of now-standard ingredients like salt, lemon and hot sauce.
Whatever its origins, the Bloody Mary has evolved into a sprawling category with countless variations, from Canada’s Caesar (made with Clamato) to the Bloody Maria (with a Tequila base), Red Snapper (gin), Michelada (beer) or even the tomato-based American take on sangrita.
As an ever-evolving drink, it’s hard to pin down a “classic” version of the recipe. It can be argued that a true Bloody Mary consists of five elements in balance: savory, spicy, sour, spirit and umami. Commonly, these are represented by some combination of salted tomato juice, hot sauce, lemon juice, vodka and Worcestershire sauce.
That said, if you keep this balance in mind, the Bloody Mary can be a blank canvas to let your creativity shine.
This recipe plays with a few basic ingredients to create a richer flavor profile. It yields two servings from one 11.5-ounce can of tomato juice, but ingredients can be multiplied for larger batches or divided for solo sipping.
While remembering that overall balance goal, you can substitute any ingredient for something you enjoy (soy or Worcestershire in place of Maggi Seasoning sauce, gin rather than vodka, etc.) or eliminate ingredients altogether that you flat out don’t dig to create a custom drink you’re sure to enjoy for many weekend mornings to come.