Dietribes: Bloody Mary


• So what exactly is in a Bloody Mary? With its combination of vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, celery salt, cayenne pepper (or Tabasco sauce) and black pepper, the drink contains hundreds of compounds and has been called "the world's most complex cocktail." A flavor wheel shows how the drink hits pretty much every note for the senses.

• Many successful Bloody Marys include "secret" ingredients including fresh seasonal vegetables, pickled brussels sprouts, turnips, green beans, radishes, caper berries, Kim Chi and up to twenty ingredients in a single mix (and don't forget the bacon-flavored vodka!)

• One thing you don't need? Celery. "What is the celery doing there? It adds nothing, flavour-wise, and you have to drink around it, like a nervous vicar, or it gets impaled in your nostril. Are you meant to lick the vodka and tomato juice off the celery? Or nibble it like a rabbit? Puh-lease. I have yet to meet anyone who orders a Bloody Mary and says: '…And make sure you add a stick of celery, Marcus old chap.'"

• A (disputed) history is that the drink was created in 1920s Paris, because it was popularized by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, though the exact origins are unknown. What is known is that the recipe change of substituting Tabasco sauce for cayenne pepper occurred in the 1950s when Tabasco was exported to France for the first time.

• Despite what many of us would guess, the drink's name has nothing to do with 16th Century Queen Mary I of England. According to a 2008 article, the beverage's name "comes from a customer's fond memory of a waitress named Mary who worked at a Chicago bar called the Bucket of Blood" (which seems a lot more spurious to me….)

• As the New York Times mentions, "in this country, there is a holiday for nearly every date on the calendar." So here's another one: October 5th was declared Bloody Mary Day by New York City's Mayor Bloomberg in 2009, and included celebrations at one of the other "origin" bars, the King Cole at the St. Regis

• If once a year isn't enough celebration for you, you might consider joining the Bloody Mary of the Month Club, where you will be sent mixes for those who don't want to bother finding all of the ingredients themselves. There's no shame in it - the pre-mixed Bloody Mary is one of the most popular inflight drinks of all time.

• Many of us may remember in school or slumber parties daring someone to say "Bloody Mary" into the mirror. Brad Walters of “Cortical Hemming and Hawing” retells the legend of Bloody Mary and offers some thoughtful hypotheses as to what might actually account for the appearance of a strange figure in the mirror. (FYI: There's a creepy image on the page - to avoid it, you can go to the Snopes article that talks about the legend instead)

• And if this has made you thirsty for a libation, pour one out for poor Mary I a.k.a. Bloody Mary, who had a rather hard time (might also want to pour one out for the 300 Protestants she burned as well).

• So what do you put in your Bloody Marys, Flossers? Any secret ingredients you're willing to share?

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‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.