International Vodka Day: History & Science Of The Bloody Mary
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The Bloody Mary cocktail, known for its sharp savouriness and spicy flavour profile, is a classic tomato-based drink that has been a bar classic since the 18th century. Usually known for their customizable nature, mixologists are often known to adjust its ingredients and garnishes to suit the personal preferences of drinkers. Some popular variations of the cocktail include using different types of vodka, adding horseradish or tabasco for extra spice or using flavoured tomato juices. Also a popular choice for a brunch cocktail or as a refreshing and savoury drink to enjoy on a warm day, the cocktail is said to have derived its name from Queen Mary, the first of England; whereas some say that it was named after Hollywood actress Mary Pickford.

The history of the Bloody Mary cocktail is a bit unclear and has several competing origin stories. While it's challenging to pinpoint the exact moment of its creation, afficianados of the drink have a couple of widely accepted theories regarding its origins:

Fernand Petiot's Creation (1920s)

One of the most popular accounts attributes the invention of the Bloody Mary to a bartender named Fernand Petiot, who worked at the New York Bar in Paris during the 1920s. According to this story, Petiot created the drink by mixing equal parts of vodka and tomato juice, along with various seasonings and spices. Initially called the ‘Bucket of Blood’ due to its reddish appearance, but it was later renamed the ‘Bloody Mary’, after a cabaret dancer by the name of Mary.

Harry's New York Bar (early 20th century)

Another theory about the origins places the Bloody Mary at Harry's New York Bar in Paris. This historic bar was frequented by American expatriates and is credited with the invention of several classic cocktails that we know of today. Some believe that bartender Henry Zbikiewicz, also known as Harry MacElhone, created a drink called the ‘bucket of blood’ that was similar to the Bloody Mary. It's possible that the cocktail evolved from variations served at this bar.

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George Jessel's Claim (1930s)

A claim by American comedian-actor George Jessel asserted that he created the Bloody Mary in the 1930s when he walked into a bar and requested a concoction of tomato juice and vodka to help cure a hangover. He mentioned that he originally named it after a girl he knew, Mary Brown Warburton despite this claim being less widely accepted than the others.

Is The Cocktail A Hangover Cure?

A Bloody Mary is a popular choice for some people as a ‘hair of the dog’ remedy for a hangover, but it doesn’t necessarily cure a hangover. While it might provide temporary relief or make you feel better due to its savoury and spicy flavours, which awaken the tastebuds, it doesn't address the underlying causes of a hangover – which might mostly have to do with dehydration and improper nourishment.

While a Bloody Mary contains ingredients like tomato juice, which has some vitamins and electrolytes, it also contains more alcohol, which can potentially prolong the hangover, which can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and inflammation. While the other umami ingredients or glutamate sources are metabolized into amino acids, they don’t essentially benefit the cause of a hangover in any way or form.