Home' Bars and Clubs : BAC JulyAugust 2015 Contents Russ McFadden dives into the world of the
Bloody Mary in an attempt to clear up the
confusion about just where it came from,
and what is actually supposed to be in one.
WHERE TO DRINK
Needless to say, if you’re
in Paris check out ‘sank
roo doe noo’ (the phonetic
pronunciation of Harry’s New
York Bar’s address in Paris,
which you’ll find at 5 rue
Daunou) for that little bit of
history. Otherwise you can’t
fail to try these bad boys.
LE BON TON’S
Melbourne based Evan
Stanley doesn’t buy into
the over zealous garnish
craze raging the globe of
late and this mix of smoked
tomatoes, charred capsicum
and blended celery is best
consumed leisurely in the
suburban turfed back yard
of Le Bon Ton. “At the end of
the day it’s a drink” he says.
“Don’t be messing about with
a forest on top”.
EAU DE VIE’S ERNEST’S
NEW TOMATO COCKTAIL
Sadly, unless you’re hungover
enough to be rolling out of
bed sometime around dinner,
this one will have to wait ‘til
this late night drinking den
opens at 6pm. Worth it to try
Australia’s Best Bloody Mary
BAR SARDINE’S GREEN
Next time you’re in NYC,
check out these guys in the
West Village. Green tomatillo
and cucumber with their
house spice. It’s green so
it’s got to be good for you
right? Maybe not but it’s
“CONSISTENCY IS KEY”
Three words that anyone with the fortune, or inherent
misfortune, to work with me during my time behind the
stick will have heard repeatedly from my talky round
hole. Generally the words would follow the finding of
a misplaced bottle in the rail, a half-assed garnish or a
blatant disregard for house specs. Consistency is, in no
small part, what defines someone who mixes drinks, as
a bartender. I constantly refer to the kitchen and how
regimented your average brigade is, sometimes way
beyond that of a crack bar team.
My point? Even outside the confines of your own bar
and into a world of house-twists, a martini should taste
like a martini, a daiquiri a daiquiri, right? Regardless
of where you drink there are some drinks that should
remain pretty much the same base mix of gin and
vermouth or rum, sugar and lime. That’s why they are
‘classics’. So, to clear up this seemingly fuzzy point I am
stabbing at: I dare you to try to order a Bloody Mary in
five bars and get two drinks that share exactly the same
ingredients. Does this enrage my inner anal-retentive?
“OUR HOUSE BLOODY MARY”
The Bloody Mary seems to have taken on a life of it’s
own and every single bartender, boozehound, blogger
or weekend boozer seems to have their own secret
recipe, spice blend or super extravagant garnish to make
it their own. From the humble beginnings of spirit and
tomato juice, this savoury delicious eye-opener has seen
everything from bacon, shellfish and beef, to the Sydney
Eastern-Suburban kale and/or cucumber.
Frankly this is the one drink that I challenge you to
experiment with, outdo each other and generally go
wild. Even if only for the reason that it will give me an
excuse to come drinking in your venue at 11am.
HOW, WHEN, WHERE?
Aside from being a drink with so many individual twists
and takes, it’s also a drink that I personally found pretty
tough to pin down historically. A reasonably long time
ago I made top 10 UK Bartender of the Year and found
myself in London alongside some serious peers.
I spent weeks prior to the comp reading up on my
classics but never came as unstuck on any drink as I did
the Bloody Mary. It seemed that the more I found out
about the drink the less I seemed to know. Every story
had a counter tale, dates didn’t match, availability of
ingredients didn’t always tally up and cited stories had
nothing in print to back them up.
The most common story and the one that I had
accepted as gospel for a long time, states that the drink
was created at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1921 by
one Ferdinand Petiot. A mix of vodka, tomato, lemon,
pepper and Worcestershire sauce gently rolled or simply
stirred to avoid losing the viscosity of the tomato juice.
Folklore tells us that Petiot moved to Manhattan around
1934 and made the drink for guests at the St Regis
hotel. With vodka still very much a European spirit
he substituted more freely available gin and changed
the name to the Red Snapper to appease his slightly
This story is unfortunately not backed up by much, if
any, evidence. The Bloody Mary did not appear on the
menu at Harry’s or in his ABC of Mixing Cocktails until a
much later date. Not to mention that in 1921 Harry’s was
actually named simply The New York Bar and was owned
and operated by former jockey Ted Sloane.
Shortly after I learned the Petiot story, I came across a
chap called George Jessel. Jessel was an American actor
who had reportedly first mixed up a concoction of one
part vodka and one part tomato juice. His autobiography
reports that in 1927, after a softball win, he and team mates
partied until 8am. Suddenly realising a need to sober up
for a 9.30am volleyball date he reached for a tomato juice
to cleanse his hangover. To spike it up one of the party
reached for a bottle of a strange new spirit called vodkee
(vodka only really took foothold in the US in the late 40s).
Jessel reports grabbing lemon and Worcestershire sauce to
help mask the “rotten potato smell”.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Jessel went on to explain: “Mary Brown Warburton
walked in. She had obviously been out all night because
she was still dressed in a beautiful white evening dress.
‘Here, Mary, take a taste of this and see what you think
of it.’ Just as she did, she spilled some down the front of
her white evening gown, took one look at the mess, and
laughed, ‘Now, you can call me Bloody Mary’”.
In 1964 Petiot revealed in a new paper interview
that he did not create the drink but claims he improved
Jessel’s drink which was “nothing but vodka and
Who created it? Who named it? Vodka or gin? All
questions that could take up this whole publication
before we even take a look at how best to mix one.
Whole books have been written and the debate will
continue. I don’t aim to answer those questions right
here but merely provide you with some of the things I
have found and encourage you to delve deeper, ideally
while contemplating the mistakes of last night over a
pint of spicy red goodness. b&c
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