Bloody Mary: versatile classic

SIPS

Partygoers can fix drink to satisfy individual tastes

April 09, 2003|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Let us now raise a Bloody Mary, a cocktail worth a toast on its own.

It's versatile, tasty and a perennial favorite. And as mornings grow warmer and afternoons lengthen, a "Bloody" can be irresistible.

The drink is usually credited to Fernand "Pete" Petiot, who came up with the basic combination while trying out new vodka drinks at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in the early 1920s. Petiot brought the drink to New York a decade later when Vincent Astor brought him to the St. Regis Hotel to tend bar.

The drink took on some other names, Red Snapper and Morning Glory among them. But the original name stuck, and it seems to have been a reference to England's Queen Mary I, known as Bloody Mary for her fierce prosecution of Protestants. (Some people call the drink Red Snapper when it's made of gin rather than vodka.)

A Bloody Mary is a great drink for entertaining, especially for a weekend brunch. It allows for a wide range of garnishes and a number of variations in ingredients - giving your guests a chance to customize their drink.

But to have a good drink you need good ingredients, preferably with a bit of bite. In the 1960s, a Los Angeles couple, Herb and June Taylor, were frustrated with the inconsistency and bland quality of many restaurant versions of the drink. So they came up with their own mix and marketed it as Mr. & Mrs. T Bloody Mary Mix.

Mr. & Mrs. T became a best seller, providing the combination of flavors that gave many Americans their first taste of this classic drink. This year the company has introduced an upscale version of its original mix, a Premium Blend with a richer taste and thicker texture. At $4.99 for a one-liter bottle, it makes a good Bloody.

You can also search out a wide range of specialty Bloody Mary mixes, and the results can be worth the effort.

Two that merit appreciation in this part of the world are Wake Up Crabby Shrimp and Crab Bloody Mary Mix, from the Oxford Falls Co. in Longview, Miss., and Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mix from Blue Crab Bay Co. in Melfa, Va., which is made with ocean clam and tomato juices, freshly grated horseradish and the company's Bay Style Seafood Seasoning. Both are available at Hometown Girl in Hampden for $10.99 for 32 ounces, and at some bay-themed stores and specialty supermarkets around the area.

For do-it-yourselfers, it's easy enough to make your own Bloody Mary mix. Fill a tall glass with ice, add an ounce or more of vodka, a dash of lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, 2 or 3 drops of Tabasco, pepper, salt and celery salt. Then fill with tomato juice and garnish with a stick of celery or a lime wedge.

Or try garnishes of carrot sticks, stuffed olives, peppers, baby corn, lime wedges, dill-pickle spears, mushrooms or fresh basil. And for those times you just don't need the vodka, don't forget that other classic, the Virgin (nonalcoholic) Mary.

Virgin Mary

Makes 1 serving

6 ounces Bloody Mary mix

1/2 ounce Rose's lime juice

1 celery stalk for garnish

Combine in a large glass filled with ice cubes and stir. Garnish with a stalk of celery.

Red, White & Blue

Makes 1 drink

8 ounces Mr. & Mrs. T's Premium Blend Bloody Mary Mix

1 ounce lemon-flavored vodka

horseradish to taste

1 boiled shrimp

1 celery stalk

1 lemon wedge

Combine Bloody Mary mix, vodka and horseradish in a shaker glass with ice and shake well. Serve in a martini glass, garnished with shrimp, celery and lemon.

- Recipes from Mr. & Mrs. T

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