Bloody Mary

The first day of January is thought to be the most hung over day of the year, so it should come as no surprise that it is also World Bloody Mary Day, known far and wide as a drink to revive the nearly dead, replenishing all the minerals and electrolytes lost on New Year’s Eve.
Here in Canada, the Bloody Mary has long played second fiddle to the Caesar, particularly here in Alberta, since the Caesar cocktail was invented in the Calgary Inn back in 1969, since renamed to the Westin Hotel in downtown Calgary.
Despite their similarities, the Bloody Mary and Caesar are unrelated. The origins of the Bloody Mary cocktail are a bit blurry, but most believe it to have been invented by an American bartender working at the New York Bar in Paris, way back in 1921.
Yes, I know it’s a little odd to have a bar in Paris called the New York Bar, but those were crazy times.
Despite being a relative newcomer, perhaps local pride that drives the Canadian tippling public to order 350 million Caesars each year, making it the most popular cocktail in the land, far outshining the Bloody Mary.
Maybe it’s because Clamato juice never really caught on south of the border, or maybe because our Yankee neighbors want to stick with a cocktail invented by one of their own.
Whatever the reasons, the Bloody Mary has become one of the most popular cocktails in the USA, with over 350 million consumed each year.
Back in the 1920’s, the original Bloody Mary recipe called for the juice from half a lemon, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, 2 ounces of vodka, and 6 ounces of tomato juice.
The recipe was tweaked in the 1950’s when Tabasco sauce became available in France, replacing the existing pinch of cayenne pepper.
In addition to its popularity as a cocktail, the Bloody Mary is often served as a hair of the dog pick-me-up the morning after a night of heavy drinking.
The vodka helps ease the morning hangover jitters, while the lemon and tomato juices help replenish much-needed vitamins and minerals that were depleted from the previous night of debauchery.
In case you were thinking that a Bloody Mary is just a Caesar without the clam, you’re close, but not entirely correct.
A Caesar is served in a glass rimmed with celery salt, is garnished with a lime wedge, and uses Clamato instead of tomato juice.
A Bloody Mary does not use celery salt or a rimmed glass, and uses the juice from half a lemon instead of a lime wedge.
Except for the above minor differences, they are both vodka-based cocktails spiced with salt, pepper, Tabasco, and Worcestershire sauces. Some are garnished with a stalk of celery, pickled bean, or other green vegetable, but purists like myself eschew that sort of thing as gimmickry.
My introduction to the Bloody Mary came about quite accidentally, back when I was a callow youth, unskilled in the subtleties of the cocktails of the world.
It was at a typical chain restaurant / lounge type of establishment in Los Angeles, where I was spending a week visiting college chums during summer vacation. At the time, the Caesar was the go-to drink for my young and naïve palate, so I naturally ordered one on vacation.
What arrived was akin to an un-rimmed and bland Caesar, which my drinking companions soon informed me was actually a Bloody Mary instead of a Caesar.
As I learned that fateful day, the Clamato juice really does have an advantage over the drab and dull tomato juice! I searched Los Angeles in vain for a supermarket that carried Motts Clamato, eventually giving up and resigning myself consuming the Caesar’s southern cousin, the Bloody Mary.
I found out later that Clamato juice was widely available in the Latino sections of Los Angeles, but nearly unheard of in the white-bread suburban neighborhood I was staying in.
It could be that more Latinos enjoy Clamato juice because tomatoes are such a large part of the Mexican diet, but I’m leaning towards the persistent rumor in the Latino community that Clamato juice acts an aphrodisiac.
Be that as it may, the Bloody Mary continues to enjoy enormous popularity not only in the USA, but around the world, while the Caesar is largely confined to Canada.
Sadly, there are too many so-called clever bartenders that try to put their own spin on the classic Bloody Mary recipe, usually to the detriment of you, the patient imbiber.
As tipplers, we need to say no when our drink arrives with a pickled asparagus spear, shrimp tail, or other abomination despoiling the memories of all those fine cocktails that came before it. Enjoy your cocktail the way it was meant to be enjoyed!

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Nick Jeffrey

Nick Jeffrey

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