The Origins of the Bloody Mary
No, we're not talking about the female ghost who is rumoured to appear in a mirror when you call her name thrice (although it is October after all and Halloween is drawing near). We're talking about the piquant cocktail that has garnered itself a most underwhelming rep of being a 'brunch cocktail'.
Now I have to put forth that I am no Bloody Mary or alcohol expert; heck, I had my first Bloody Mary just couple of weeks ago at the Astor Bar located at St. Regis Singapore. The marketing exec pushed one into my hands despite my protests that I wasn't a very good drinker. I wasn't expecting much, especially when I learnt that the cocktail comprised a vodka base (no offense to the lovers of the spirit) but when I brought the highball glass to my lips, I was enlightened.
"The Bloody Mary cocktail was originally named The Red Snapper," the director of marketing communications shared with us and surprised exclamations darted around the table. What did we know about the Bloody Mary? Not much, apparently.
According to the St. Regis, the cocktail originated from the King Cole Bar located in St. Regis New York but upon a little more digging, I unearthed a history of the cocktail that was every bit as murky as the tomato purée used in it.
Some attributed the drink to be named after a notorious queen known for her ruthless rule of England in the mid-1550s and others swore that the cocktail was named after the macabre story pertaining a certain female ghost but the one story that seemed to stick out amidst a slew of absurd theories is one that the Bloody Mary, while largely iconised as an American by-product, was actually concocted by a Frenchman (Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot) in the corner at Harry’s New York Bar at 5 Rue Danou. Petiot started experimenting with the seemingly tasteless spirit when immigrants escaping the Russian Revolution introduced vodka to the French capital.
While Petiot has been concocting the tomato juice-vodka cocktails for quite some time, it wasn't until Vincent Astor brought Petiot over to man the King Cole Bar at St. Regis New York that Petoit perfected the cocktail and allowed it to hit its prime as a drink popularised by the Americans. The drink is still featured on the cocktail menu at King Cole Bar, under a less obnoxious name of the Red Snapper.
Today, the drink is a staple on cocktail menus around the world, including the entire St. Regis hotel chain. Each hotel boasts of a personalised variant of the alcohol beverage, with Encanto Mary being Puerto Rico's, Spice Route Mary being Doha's and the Singapore's very own Chili Padi Mary which is infused with the aromas of lemongrass and a kick of ginger. Yum.
For a full list of the hotel chain's multiple variants of Bloody Marys and their recipes, click here.