The celebrated vodka and tomato juice cocktail was first concocted in 1921 by Fernand “Pete” Petiot, an American barman at Harry’s Bar in Paris. When Petiot moved to the King Cole Bar at the St Regis Hotel in New York he adapted his recipe to the American palate, adding lemon and worcestershire sauce.
The cocktail was soon established as a weekend house-party staple on this side of the Atlantic, and is renowned for its “hair of the dog” properties. Tradition dictates that a Bloody Mary is best served before lunch, but not before midday.
I believe that a Bloody Mary should be served in along glass and I favour the taller and wider version of whisky tumblers, which hold approximately half a pint.
It’s worth mixing the cocktail in a glass jug, preferably one with a top, to hold in non-liquid bits when it comes to pouring. Be sure to have a generous supply of vodka, pure tomato juice, lemons, worcester sauce, celery salt, tabasco, salt and black pepper and ice cubes. The tomato juice must be chilled in the fridge.
Pour some vodka into the bottom of the jug. Spirit quantities depend, of course, on the spirits of your drinking companions: I tend to fill a four-pint Bloody Mary jug (this will make eight glasses) with at least half a pint of vodka. Next, fill the jug with tomato juice up to a couple of inches from the brim. Cut one and a half lemons into six quarters, giving each one a gentle squeeze over the jug before dropping it into the mixture.
Add four teaspoons of worcester sauce, four generous teaspoons of celery salt, and four teaspoons of tabasco. Squeeze the remaining lemon half and discard it. Stir, try for taste and add a little salt and black pepper. Give one final good stir and leave in the fridge. Just before serving, place a few ice cubes into the jug.
Increasingly, people are asking for Virgin Mary or Bloody Shame. You may want to make a jug leaving the vodka out, then add vodka to the glasses of those who want it. You may also wish to substitute ordinary tomato juice with Clamato – a spicy variant that comes in jars. As it has a more pungent flavour, I recommend toning down the celery salt, tabasco and worcester sauce. Many people prefer more lemon juice, so I recommend squeezing a few more lemons into a small jug that can be left on the side.
If you have any Bloody Mary left over, don’t pour it away. It will be just as delicious the following day. Cover the jug with cling film, having removed the lemon pieces, and leave in a cool larder overnight.