Skip to content
Origin of the Bloody Mary

The Origin of the Bloody Mary

It will be impossible to get through this life without ever hearing about or actually trying one of the most iconic cocktails in human history: the Bloody Mary. A reminder of a Bloody Mary’s savory taste is sure to make most people salivate. The now-legendary cocktail includes must-have ingredients like vodka (mmmm), tomato juice, tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and lime wedges, celery salt, horseradish, paprika, and black pepper. Oh, and don’t forget those olives, celery stalk, or parsley. Some bartenders even add full strips of bacon! Did your mouth water reading those ingredients? If it did, it’s now time to find out the fascinating origin of the Bloody Mary.

Origins Revealed… Sort of

The origin of the Bloody Mary dates back to the ‘20s and ‘30s of the 20th century. A clear concise origin tale is often disputed by historians but there are theories that many subscribe to. 

It Was Invented in Paris, Right?

In 1921, Fernand Petiot said he invented the Bloody Mary before others had announced it, according to his granddaughter, at least. Petiot worked at an establishment named the New York Bar located in Paris. After a name change, the establishment was called Harry’s New York Bar, a place American migrants like Ernest Hemmingway would frequent. Legend has it that the Bloody Mary was created spontaneously, according to Harry’s. At the time, it only consisted of tomato juice and vodka.

Wait, It Was In New York?

Another origin tales reveals that the 21 Club in New York was the true creator back in the 1930s. A bartender by the name of Henry Zbikiewicz, to be specific. However, comedian George Jessel, a frequent patron of the 21 Club, may have actually been the creative force behind the cocktail. In a gossip column printed in 1939, it stated: “George Jessel’s newest pick-me-up which is receiving attention from the town’s paragraphers is called a Bloody Mary: half tomato juice, half vodka.” The article printed the original recipe and is considered one of the first, if not the first, references in the United State of the iconic cocktail 

Some Origin Clarity

As a result of Jessel’s public press as the creator of the Bloody Mary, Fernand Petiot would then go on the say that he concocted the Bloody Mary as we know it today back in 1934 as a refinement to Jessel’s cocktail. 

In a 1964 interview with the New Yorker, Jessel said that he “initiated the Bloody Mary of today… 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. We serve a hundred to a hundred and fifty Bloody Marys a day here in the King Cole Room and in the other restaurants and the banquet rooms.”

The Bottom Line

Despite its multi-origin background, one thing is certain: we’re sure glad the bloody Mary exists and it brings joy to so many people around the world. The drink is being reinvented all the time, adding and removing ingredients to satisfy a bartender’s own creative tastes. Seriously, hats off to the first person who added bacon to it!

To make a bloody mary with SIP Award-winning vodka brands, make sure to reference our list of medalists before making your next bottle purchase.

And remember to sign up for our newsletter below to stay up to date on important events, reminders, and all things SIP!

Scroll To Top