In April, Phil Greene of the Museum of the American Cocktail led a seminar titled “Vodka Classics” at the Warehouse Theater in Washington, DC. Guests were treated to five different vodka cocktails prepared by the staff of The Passenger, led by co-owner Derek Brown. Guests were served the Cook Strait Sling No. 2, the Moscow Mule, the Vesper, the Caipiroska and the Cosmopolitan.
Knowing that most people in the audience knew their way around a Bloody Mary, Phil refrained from making and serving one, but gave an overview of its colorful history. Phil explained that the origin of the Bloody Mary is a highly contested topic, with some saying that it was invented by Fernand “Pete” Petiot at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. One particular theory has it named after Queen Mary Tudor of England. Another story is that it was invented in Florida by actor/toastmaster/bon vivant George Jessel as a way of combating a wicked hangover in Palm Beach, FL. According to Jessel’s story, it was named after his friend Mary Brown Warburton who, while sampling it, spilled some on her dress and shouted, “Now, you can call me Bloody Mary, George!” There is even a story of it being invented in the 1950s by Bernard “Bertin” Azimont, bartender of the Ritz Paris’ Petit Bar, claiming that he created it for Ernest Hemingway who, at the time, had been forbidden by his doctors from drinking. Bertin believed his mixture was stealthy enough as to not be noticed on Hemingway’s breath by his watchful wife Mary. “Hemingway, he said, was so pleased that he had got the better of his ‘bloody wife’ that he named the drink after her.” (Colin Peter Field, The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris).
Regardless of its origins, Phil recommends the Bloody Mary recipe from the St. Regis Hotel:
- 1 ounce vodka
2 ounces tomato juice
6 to 8 drops lemon juice
2 large pinches salt
1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 wedge of lemon.
Stir the vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire in a mixing glass filled with ice until combined and chilled. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a wedge of lemon. Makes 1 cocktail.