10 International Twists on the Bloody Mary
Discover these new variations on a classic American cocktail.
One of the most traditional and classic American cocktails is the Bloody Mary. But when did it become a standard for bartenders? The history of the cocktail is more convoluted than a murder mystery with various people claiming credit for both inventing the cocktail and naming it. Most mixologist experts tend to believe the Bloody Mary was created by Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s and was later popularized in America after Petiot emigrated to New York City and began serving the drink at the St. Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar.
There are others who believe the Bloody Mary was invented by vaudeville legend and stage comedian George Jessel who claims in his autobiography, The World I Live In, that he first concocted it in 1927 at the Palm Beach restaurant La Maze.
As for the drink’s famous name, the facts are equally unclear. Some say it was named after Queen Mary I who was famous for her violent persecution of Protestants, burning hundreds of them at the stake. Others believe the name originated from a waitress named Mary who worked at the Bucket of Blood saloon in Chicago circa 1900 and was responsible for cleaning up after bloody brawls in the bar. The one thing that most mixologists can agree on, however, are the basic ingredients used to make a classic Bloody Mary with a few minor flavor options: vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and possibly a dash of Tabasco sauce, lemon juice and a stalk of celery for garnish.
Of course classic recipes in today’s cocktail culture renaissance are fair game for any creative bartender who wants to reinvent a traditional favorite with new ingredients. Here are some of the more imaginative and delicious variations on The Bloody Mary.
The Two-Day Mary
Created at Spencer’s for Steaks & Chops at the Hilton Orlando, this version puts the accent on the tomato flavor in the two-day preparation. First, two ripe, chopped tomatoes are put in a vacuum sealed sous vide bag with vodka and chilies and then placed in hot water for about 3 hours. The mixture is then strained several times through cheesecloth and finally chilled overnight in a cooler. What you get is a deeply robust tomato flavor that is complemented by the bacon and pickled okra garnish.
Casa de Uco Vineyards & Wine Resort in Argentina’s Andes Mountains are well known for their signature Bloody Mary which features a unique approach to its preparation. Six tomatoes, a red pepper and a chili pepper are charred black over the fire and placed in a bowl with some sugar, salt and 150 ml. of Casa de Uco Malbec wine. The mixture is then put in a blender with 250 ml of fresh orange juice and refrigerated for several hours. To make the cocktail, the bartender mixes vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, lemon juice, salt and pepper in an Old Fashioned glass. Some of the Malbec-infused tomato juice is then added along with enough ice to almost fill up the glass and then topped off with more of the tomato juice and garnished with a cucumber slice.
Who says a Bloody Mary has to include vodka? Carson’s Food & Drink in Lexington, Kentucky serves up a “5 Mary’s” cocktail that includes Spider Monkey Serrano and Ginger Tequila, fresh horseradish, a homemade Bloody Mary mix, Worcestershire sauce and a dill rim seasoning. The spicy creation is then served with a spectacular skewer of olives, pepperoncini, jack cheese cubes and shrimp. Celery stalk garnish is optional.
The Return of the King Mary
A more fanciful variation on the Bloody Mary that also replaces vodka with tequila is this aptly titled cocktail from New Orleans’ Windsor Court Hotel that has an aristocratic flair. The intense and complex flavors are the result of Ghost pepper tequila, Reyes Ancho Chile liqueur and homemade Bloody Mary mix. If you don’t want to make your own tomato juice base, Zing Zang Bloody Mary mix is an excellent substitute.
Zuma Miami, a contemporary Japanese restaurant which is part of a franchise with locations in such cities as London, Istanbul and Bangkok, serves a brunch time Bloody Mary with a distinct Japanese twist. The vodka, tomato and lemon juice gets a flavor boost by the addition of the restaurant’s house-made dashi, an infusion derived from the traditional base of Japanese soups. And the garnish of pickled onion, cucumber slices, Shishito pepper, green olive and Shiso Leaf is a work of art in itself.
Mary Full of Grace
Breaking away from tradition and going in a completely new direction is the Mary Full of Grace white Bloody Mary that is a popular favorite at The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens’ Well Bar in St. Augustine, Florida. The unique concoction which has a lovely pale lime color is a mix of tomatillo infused vodka, dashes of several bitters (olive, Japanese chili and lime), and homemade white Bloody Mary mix made from white grapes, cucumbers, jalapenos, horseradish, celery bitters and other ingredients.
Green Bloody Mary
Another startling but wildly creative variation on the classic cocktail is offered by Hilton Chicago which substitutes Bushmills Red Bush Irish Whiskey for vodka. And the Bloody Mary mix is green not red because it is made from green tomatillos, yellow tomatoes, seedless cucumbers, garlic cloves, lime juice and other ingredients.
Chile Sauce Mary
MR CHOW, the iconic upscale Beijing restaurant collection with locations in Las Vegas, Miami and New York among others, creates the ultimate in spicy Bloody Marys with a version that is highlighted by MR CHOW’s signature chile and fiery sauce. The recipe also includes tomato juice, ginger juice, pomegranate juice and olive juice. The finale is a visually striking foam top made from soy milk, garlic powder and other ingredients.
New Orleans is famous for its cocktail culture so you’d expect to find a unique Crescent City take on the Bloody Mary. Hilton New Orleans Riverside’s Public Belt bar offers a true original that uses Chipotle infused vodka, Creole tomato juice, crawfish stock, black garlic, lemon and lime juice and Worcestershire sauce. The cocktail rim is flavored with smoked paprika salt and the garnish is a mini-feast of shrimp, olives, pearl onions and baby corn.
Garnished Out Mary
For some bartenders, the Bloody Mary is not about the ingredients but the garnish. Take, for example, the Ketel One Bloody Mary from Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in New York which serves a Bloody Mary (made with Ketel One vodka) topped with an alluring skewer of thick cut bacon, olive and jumbo shrimp. The folks at Hilton West Palm Beach take the garnish effect to even more extravagant extremes with their Kobe Beef Mary which pairs their signature Bloody Mary with a Kobe beef slider.