Bloody Mary – Classic 1920s Fernand Petiot Recipe

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The History Of The Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary originated in 1920s Paris France by Fernand Petiot, while working at The New York Bar. This bar would later go on to become the famous Harry’s New York Bar after it was bought by Harry MacElhone. Fernand came up with the Bloody Mary as a kind of a hair of the dog drink to cure hangovers and the popular myth states it was none other than the famous drunk Ernest Hemingway who Fernand first made the cocktail for. While that most likely is not true, its still fun to imagine.

After prohibition ended Fernand Petiot immigrated to New York and served his signature cocktail at The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel. In France the Bloody Mary was still just tomato juice and vodka but New Yorkers were not impressed. They found the drink flat, two demential, and too tomato-y. They suggested he somehow spice it up a bit. English being his second language, he took the suggestion literally. He added hot sauce, salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. The spiced up remake was a hit. More and more people began ordering Fernand’s Bloody Mary but the St. Regis Hotel found the name to be too vulgar for its high class clientele. They tried to change the name to The Red Snapper, but it was too late. The cocktail had expanded beyond the hotel’s walls and the public knew it as the Bloody Mary.

What Does a Bloody Mary Taste Like

Peoples opinion of a Bloody Mary is typically a binary. They either love them or hate them. Its not your typical cocktail, because unlike other cocktails that are either sweet, sour, refreshing, earthy, or herbal, the Bloody Mary is creamy and savory. The Bloody Mary has a creamy full body mouth feel, it’s salty and sweet with bright red tomato and umami flavors. It’s understandable that some people find this to be an off-putting taste for a cocktail since its so different. Personally speaking I am put off when the tomato flavor is too strong but I love this cocktail when there is much more Worcestershire and horse radish in the drink. Like buying a jar of spaghetti sauce, just because you don’t like one brand does not mean you dislike spaghetti entirely. Maybe the issue isn’t the flavors of the drink but the proportions and balance of those flavors. If made right this can be a very tasty drink. Which is why, unless you find a Bloody Mary mixer you really like, it’s best to make it from scratch exactly the way you like.

Bloody Mary MIx vs making it from scratch

If you are wondering whether to buy a mix or make it from scratch, it taste best made from scratch and is almost the same amount of work. In fact you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge already. Also if you are able to drive to the store to buy mixer then you can buy tomato juice and spices. There are some mixers that taste good but they end up costing 2 to 3 times as much as just getting the ingredients and a cheap mixer just taste cheap. In addition making it yourself provides you much more control over the taste and final product.

Now if you’re wondering whether to use V8 or Tomato juice, then that is up to you and a matter of preference. V8 is fine and gives the drink a more herbal tomato soup like taste while using normal tomato juice gives it a cleaner more brighter tomato taste. They’re cheap ingredients so try both and see which you prefer.

The Bloody Mary as a Hangover Cure

The Bloody Mary was originally a “hair of the dog” cocktail. Hair of the dog was a 19th century English expression for saying that one can heal a wound by applying to the wound a part of the thing that did the damage. It came from the idea that if you were bit by a dog then putting some of the dogs hair in the bite would help keep the wound from getting infected. In the case of a hangover, a hair of the dog cocktail is one you drink the next morning to help ease the pain. As you start to sober up, your brain starts to register what hell you just did to yourself. This keeps you from fully sobering up. It’s suppose to give you just enough of a buzz to numb you till the brunt of the hangover passes. That being said the Bloody Mary actually is a pretty good hangover drink. The Bloody Mary provides electrolytes, vitamins, enough booze to lightly buzz, enough fluid to help hydrate, and spices for pain relief . Salt provides the electrolytes. Tomato juice is high in vitamin C, E and potassium. Lemon juice is high in vitamin C. Worcestershire sauce has B vitamins, niacin, and vitamin C. Horse radish is also very high in antioxidants. And hot sauce has capsaicin in it which is often used as pain relief since capsaicin turns off the neurotransmitters that are currently telling the brain it’s in pain. Kinda like Tylenol. 

The Most important ingredient

The most important ingredient in this cocktail is the spices you use to balance the tomato juice and the amount of spices you use. Like the 1930s New Yorkers who told Fernand Petiot to spice the drink up because it was too tomato-y; What you are trying to accomplish with this cocktail is how the spices enrich and balance the tomato juice flavor. It doesn’t take much Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or horseradish to drastically change the flavor but the right amount will blend evenly with the tomato juice. Too little spice make for a flat drink and too much is overwhelming. I got better at making this drink the more I cooked in the kitchen and learned to not fear cooking with spices. The most common problem people make when making a Bloody Mary is they under spice it and the drink ends up too tomato-y, flavorless, and flat. This leads many people to think they hate bloody Marys or they are gross. Taste is unique to everyone so under spiced to one is perfect to another but my advice it to taste each ingredient individually and experiment with flavors and proportions. If the taste is not right then add what it needs to make it right. This isn’t an easy drink to get right so don’t if its not quite right, don’t be discouraged, just keep trying.


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Bloody Mary – Classic 1920s Fernand Petiot Recipe

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






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Learn how to make the a classic Bloody Mary.


  • Add To Taste Salt

  • Add To Taste Black Pepper

  • Add To Taste Worcestershire sauce

  • Add To Taste Hot Sauce

  • 1 oz Lime Juice

  • 5 oz Tomato Juice

  • 2 oz Vodka


  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker. Add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into a highball glass with ice.


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