The Bloody Mary is one of the world’s best known cocktails, prized for its ability to jumpstart even the groggiest of mornings. Its origins aren’t exactly clear, but the likely backstory points to the mid-1930s and Fernand “Pete” Petiot, a bartender at King Cole Bar at the St. Regis hotel in New York City.
The original Bloody Mary is believed to have contained seven ingredients: vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, celery salt, Tabasco and lemon juice. But like many classic drinks, it has inspired a few tried-and-true variations. Popular versions include the Bloody Maria (made with tequila), the Red Snapper (spiked with gin) and the Caesar, a Canadian creation that features Clamato juice. Throw in the specific recipes concocted by bars, bartenders and enthusiasts, and the tomato-based cocktail sports countless unique twists, from heavy on the hot sauce to a splash of Guinness on top.
More recently, the Bloody Mary has inspired a garnish-based arms race, as restaurants and bars top their drinks with seemingly more insane garnishes, including bacon, shrimp skewers, lobster tails and mini cheeseburgers, turning the Bloody Mary into its own brunch. When in doubt, it’s best to start with the classic recipe and work toward the way you like it, whether that is pared down, topped with a pepperoni pizza or featuring your favorite bottled mix.
Despite the endless variations and regardless of how you choose to make it, the Bloody Mary’s staying power cannot be debated. It’s a liquor-soaked nutritional breakfast and hangover cure all in one red package, and it’s one of the few cocktails that is socially acceptable to drink first thing in the morning. What else could you ask for?
Watch Now: How to Make a Classic Bloody Mary
- 1 lemon wedge
- 1 lime wedge
- 2 ounces vodka
- 4 ounces tomato juice
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
- 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pinch celery salt
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 1 pinch smoked paprika
- Garnish: lime wedge
- Garnish: green olives
- Garnish: parsley sprig
- Garnish: celery stalk
Pour some celery salt onto a small plate.
Rub the juicy side of the lemon or lime wedge along the lip of a pint glass.
Roll the outer edge of the glass in celery salt until fully coated, then fill the glass with ice and set aside.
Squeeze the lemon and lime wedges into a shaker and drop them in.
Add the remaining ingredients with ice and shake gently.
Strain into the prepared glass.
Garnish with a parsley sprig, 2 speared green olives, a lime wedge and a celery stalk (optional).