By Ashley Bode | November 11, 2011

Photo: Jill G

By: Ashley Bode

Chances are you’ve probably sipped a Bloody Mary at a Sunday morning brunch, you’ve probably even had two. You may have taken for granted its common place existence and most certainly wouldn’t view it as a luxurious cocktail, and perhaps a better representation would be calling it “hair of the dog.” But where does the bloody mary come from? Why is it a brunch staple and what’s with the name?

Most cocktail historians would tell you that the drink was first stirred in 1921 at Harry’s New York Bar, a Paris hotspot for ex-pats like Hemingway and Gershwin, by a man named Fernand Petiot. The original recipe was half tomato juice and half vodka and it wasn’t until Petiot brought the drink stateside, to The King Cole Bar at The Saint Regis NYC, that the spices of Tabasco, Worcestershire, horseradish, lemon, lime and pepper were added. Originally, the libation was called both the Red Snapper and Morning Glory before the name Bloody Mary stuck. While most people would assume the drink is named for the legendary Queen Mary I, known as Bloody Mary, some believe the tale that it was named for a woman named Mary at the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago, as Petiot stated multiple times that it reminded him of her.

Then there’s the other story of origin; that chronicles the creation of the drink as a hangover cure by famed movie producer George Jessel. Jessel even recounts the creation in his autobiography, insisting that he and friends came up with the drink in 1927 in Palm Springs Florida, and the name came when Mary Warburton, of Wanamaker’s Department Store fame, spilled one on herself and declared herself a Bloody Mary.

Like most cocktail origin tales, neither story can be proven to be the first true drink mixed. Jessel surely is the reason of its appearance on the Sunday brunch menu as he was the first to claim its cure for the morning hangover from Saturday night’s indulgences. As far as its nick-name “hair of the dog,” the expression refers to curing a hangover with more booze, but comes from the term “hair of the dog that bit you” which dates all the way back to Shakespearean times. Sure, the colloquial phrase wasn’t originally referring to alcohol; the literal meaning was to treat the wound of a rabid dog bite by placing a hair from the tail of the dog in the wound the next day.

But let’s get back to the booze. The wonderful thing about a Bloody Mary is that tomato juice and vodka can be mixed with nearly anything. Most commonly, the drink can be seen spicy and served with celery, but mix it up! Don’t be afraid to go beyond horseradish and Tabasco. Oh, and did you ever think of trying a Bloody Mary with Gin? Here’s my favorite recipe:

Morning Glory Bloody Mary Recipe

2 1/2 cups tomato juice
4 ounces vodka–try something extra smooth or try Hendricks or Tanqueray 10 Gin
Sriracha hot sauce to taste
3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh horseradish
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon wasabi
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of salt, celery salt is preferred
A drizzle of good quality extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 cocktail onions
4 green olives
2 cucumber spears


  1. Combine all ingredients except olives, onions and cucumbers in a pitcher. Stir well. Pour mix into two glasses with ice and garnish each drink with one cucumber, one cocktail onion, and two green olives.

Photo: jilleatsapples

To read Ashley’s original post, click here.

For more of Ashley’s tips and recipes, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)


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