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BLOODY MARY
THE QUEEN OF COCKTAILS She’s been called the most colorful, the most complex, the most customizable cocktail in the world. Refreshing and restorative, she’s the drink that owns the dawn. Yet she's sultry and sexy enough for any hour day or night. And despite an ominous given name - Bloody Mary - she's forever sought out by the trendsetting cocktailians who yearn to test the limits of mixology.

Truth be told, Mary is a peacemaker. From her base of vodka and tomato juice, she juggles a seemingly irreconcilable mob of flavors. Sweetness and spice, sour notes and bitter, salt and savoriness can all be the loyal subjects of this Queen of Cocktails. And the army of ingredients that this coquette can muster reinforces her adventurous spirit. She flirts with the fruits, spices, herbs and vegetables that keep her always on the cutting edge of drinkdom.

While Mary has become a trusted companion at the bar, she’s the youngest drink on the short of list of great and classic cocktails. It may be impolite to ask a lady her age, but depending on which story you prefer, the Bloody Mary is no older than the Roaring '20s. Renowned mixologist Fernand Petiot claimed to have conjured her in 1921 at Harry's New York Bar in Paris, where she captivated the literary likes of Ernest Hemingway and Henry Miller. The vaudeville entertainer and "Toastmaster General" George Jessel said she revealed herself to him first at a Palm Beach watering hole in 1927, where she became the instant darling of show people and moneyed swells. Either way, Mary wouldn't be mentioned in print until 1939. By contrast the Manhattan and Martini predate her by a good half-century, and Sour drinks are even older.

Why was Mary so late to the party? Because her defining ingredients - vodka and tomato juice - weren't commonly available in the United States until well into the 20th century. Once the two got together, however, they were instant soul mates.

And Stolichnaya® Vodka, with its grain base of soft wheat and spicy rye, is an ideal partner for tomato juice. Fermented using artisinal Russian waters and distilled and filtered to perfection, Stoli® is an inviting base into which the red fruit’s viscous essence can blend.

While Stoli® is an ally in almost any cocktail, its properties lend particular support to the Bloody Mary. The magic happens because the alcohol in vodka dissolves the many tangy flavors in the drink. The great menagerie of flavors melds together and becomes evenly distributed throughout the cocktail. The blend becomes a cohesive whole instead of ragged chain of culinary misfires. Summoning Mary in advance by joining her ingredients days ahead of time can help that melding process occur more smoothly.

MARY’S BASIC FORMULA GOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS:
  • 2 parts Stolichnaya® vodka
  • 4 parts tomato juice
  • ½ part fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ part freshly grated horseradish
  • 1 dash per serving Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash per serving hot sauce
  • 1 dash per serving salt and pepper
But consider a bevvy of trendy innovations - or even creating your own.
  • Start with the tomato juice, you might want to make or source your own, especially if you grow or have access to great fruit. Pressing it yourself allows the option of making the juice as thick or lean as you like.
  • Lea & Perrin and Tabasco are the go-to sauce brands for the Bloody Mary, but a culinary sauce trend is currently lighting up the drink with a range of flavor choices that can add just that bit of the distinction that sets a cocktail apart.
  • Likewise, the Asian flavor movement—including wasabi, soy sauce, anchovy paste and cilantro—can make this drink an umami bomb and lend an international appeal to an essentially American cocktail.
  • But don’t stop there. The drink can be infused with any number of inviting herbs—dill, basil, parsley, tarragon, rosemary.
  • The garnish is another avenue for customization. The standard is a long celery stalk, which can act as stirrer even as it gets eaten as the liquid goes down. But a drink of Mary’s complexity is certainly not limited to one garnish. The pickling trend in restaurants might lend some creativity to a cocktail that is so associated with eating. (After all, Mary’s cousin, the Bloody Bull, with beef consommé, is practically a meal in a glass.)
  • Brunch is the meal that Mary is most likely to attend, but the master host doesn’t forget go-al