Do You Know the History of the Bloody Mary?

We know it’s everyone’s favorite brunch cocktail — especially at Reel Seafood, where you can get one stacked high with all of the fixings! However, do you know the interesting, and somewhat controversial, history behind the creation of this classic beverage?

There are two origin stories involving the Bloody Mary as we know it today — one revolving around a famous comedian, and the other around an equally famous bartender. The comedian was a famous star of the 1930s and 1940s, George Jessel. Jessel claimed he invented the drink in 1927 as a pick-me-up for himself and his friends after a particularly long night in Palm Beach. Jessel also claims to have named the drink after his friend Mary Brown Warburton who, on the morning he concocted the creation for the first time, spilled her glass of tomato juice and vodka all over the front of her white nightgown.

However, Jessel’s account is widely disputed — most point to bartender Fernand “Pete” Petiot as, if not the creator of the Bloody Mary itself, the person who perfected its recipe. Petiot first began making the drink during the 1920s at the famed Paris bar Harry’s New York — a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and other expats of the era. After the end of Prohibition, Petiot brought the drink along with him to his new job in New York at the King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel. It is undeniable, however, that Petiot was the one responsible for adding the various seasonings — horseradish, Tabasco Sauce, lemon juice, and celery salt — that we associate with the modern version of the drink.

How about the name “Bloody Mary” then? In addition to Jessel’s claim, the drink has also been rumored to be named after either the infamous Queen Mary I of England, early Hollywood star Mary Pickford, or, even, the girlfriend of a frequent patron of the King Cole Bar.

Regardless, as bartender Brian Bartels best says it in his book, The Bloody Mary, “The good news is, the Bloody Mary was invented.” Come enjoy this “hair-of-the-dog” classic this Sunday at Brunch at Reel Seafood!

Article by Molly Moltzen

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