Happy Birthday, Bloody Mary!
By Michael Y. Park
Everyone's favorite hair-of-the-dog hangover cure, the Bloody Mary, turns 75 years old today, according to legend.
The most popular theory has it that Fernand Petiot invented the cocktail at Harry's Bar in Paris in 1920, when it was known as the Red Snapper because it was so harsh. But he didn't transform it into the brunch drink we know today until he was at the St. Regis Hotel in New York in the 1933 and added the special ingredient: Tabasco sauce. That's when it became the Bloody Mary.
A competing origin story has it that the cocktail was originally created by actor-producer George Jessel, and that Petiot simply added the finishing touches in 1939. As Petiot was quoted saying in a 1964 New Yorker:
"I initiated the Bloody Mary of today. Jessel said he created it, but it was really nothing but vodka and tomato juice when I took it over. I cover the bottom of the shaker with four large dashes of salt, two dashes of black pepper, two dashes of cayenne pepper, and a layer of Worcestershire sauce; I then add a dash of lemon juice and some cracked ice, put in two ounces of vodka and two ounces of thick tomato juice, shake, strain, and pour. We serve a hundred to a hundred and fifty Bloody Marys a day here in the King Cole Room and in the other restaurants and the banquet rooms."