Cocktail Nerdom: Happy Birthday Queen Mary I + The History of the Bloody Mary
On this day in 1516, Queen Mary I of England was born, the daughter of King Henry VIII and his first of six wives, Catherine of Aragon. Why do we care? Because booze -- duh.
Queen Mary would eventually earn the title Bloody Mary, after executing her cousin, Lady Jane Grey, to cement her power, as well as hundreds of executions of Protestant leaders during Mary's attempt to turn England back to Roman Catholicism. The drink of the same name would not show up for another 370 years or so, and there are reports that the drink may have been named for Hollywood star Mary Pickford, or a barmaid from Chicago named Mary. But I like to think of the drink's true matriarch as the bloody queen.
The drink is generally attributed to Fernand Petiot, who claimed to have invented it in the early '20s while working at Harry's New York Bar in Paris. There are also claims that it was invented in the '30s at the 21 Club by a comedian who was a regular, Gorge Jessel. In 1964, Petiot spoke to The New Yorker, and by then his story was a mixture of the two back stories, and includes his recipe:
"I initiated the Bloody Mary of today," he told us. "Jessel said he created it, but it was really nothing but vodka and tomato juice when I took it over. I cover the bottom of the shaker with four large dashes of salt, two dashes of black pepper, two dashes of cayenne pepper, and a layer of Worcestershire sauce; I then add a dash of lemon juice and some cracked ice, put in two ounces of vodka and two ounces of thick tomato juice, shake, strain, and pour."
If you're lucky enough to be off work today, we suggest you do your duty and cheers to a murderous queen, a French barman, a comedian and perhaps a Chicago waitress with a bloody Mary or three.
See also: 7 Best Bloody Marys In L.A.
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