The Origin of the Bloody Mary, and Why It Tastes Better on Airplanes

Origins Of The Bloody Mary
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Brunch time isn’t the same without Bloody Marys.

The spicy drink has been a staple of late-morning menus for years, but most people might be a little hazy on its origins.

The drink has gone by many names but the original recipe seems to be traced back to only a handful of places. One of which is Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France while claims the honor of inventing the drink.

Around 1920, Harry’s bartender, Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot, started experimenting with new cocktails with vodka thanks to an influx of Russian immigrants leaving their country due to the revolution. It was at this same time that American “tomato juice cocktail” was hitting French grocery shelves.

After some mixing and adding a few extra flavors like Worcestershire, black pepper and lemon, the “first” Bloody Mary was born. According to Esquire, author Ernest Hemingway was a well-known patron at Harry’s and particularly loved the drink.

Petiot then traveled to New York City to work at the King Cole Bar at the St. Régis Hotel, where a drink called “The Red Snapper” gained popularity.

Many believe the drink was later dubbed a Bloody Mary after Queen Mary Tudor and her particularly bloody reign over England in the 16th century. However, a 1934 ad, noted by Esquire, states that entertainer George Jessel named the drink after a friend, Mary Geraghty.

While the drink is flavorful and powerful, its popularity can also be explained through how hearty it is. A mimosa, for example, is a light, effervescent sip, a Bloody Mary that’s chock-full of olives or celery (or sometimes, bacon) isn’t just a cocktail, it’s part of the meal.

Eater noted one Vancouver restaurant that served the drink with an entire rotisserie chicken.

And while a Bloody Mary is great at the brunch table, there is one place where it can be unequivocally delicious: the sky.

Because of the dry air in the cabin, it becomes harder to detect sweet and salty flavors, according to a 2010 study out of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Germany.

If you typically don’t like the salty, spicy taste of a Bloody Mary on the ground, you might find it positively delightful on that transatlantic flight. Earthy-tasting tomato juice may even taste bright and sweet against all that celery salt and olive garnish.

So it’s no wonder why the Bloody Mary has stayed popular for almost 100 years. It’s good on the ground, in the air, at your brunch table, at the beach — and pretty much anywhere you want a cocktail with a kick.

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