The Untold Truth Of The Bloody Mary

At some point in time, most people have given the good ol' Bloody Mary a try — even if it's solely for the toppings piled on top (after all, who can resist a drink with a bacon stirrer?). While the spicy tomato juice concoction might be the best hair of the dog hangover cure for some, it's also a classic drink that pairs well with tons of delicious dishes, most famously brunch fare

Long before the Bloody Mary was the queen of the brunch cocktail list, though, the drink was first created in the 1930s. Modeled after Queen Mary I, known as a rather historical bloody Mary herself, the drink was designed to represent all of the blood she spilled during her crusades against Protestants across her rule from 1553 to 1558 (via Thrillist). Hence, why the drink is made with the very murder-y looking tomato juice alongside vodka and heavy spices.

No matter what your favorite thing is about the drink, though — the history, the flavor profile, the toppings — there are tons of ways to play it up and make it your own.

A true Bloody Mary is only made with seven ingredients

There have been tons of variations and very similar cocktails created over the years — whether it's a Bloody Caesar in Canada (that uses Clamato rather than tomato juice) or a Bloody Maria made with tequila instead of vodka. Not to mention the endless toppings that continue to be piled onto the side of the glass or even placed on a skewer tucked between the ice cubes. 

From full cheeseburgers and fried chicken to every kind of pickled vegetable imaginable, Bloody Mary glasses have nearly overstuffed thanks to the sheer versatility of the drink's compatible dishes and the wild experiments of both foodies and mixologists.

However, true Bloody Marys that stick to the original recipe are made with only seven ingredients, say purists. That list includes vodka, Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice, black pepper, celery salt, Tabasco, and lemon juice — and no room for variation. Sometimes there's a celery stick thrown in too, thanks to a bartender at Chicago's Pump Room in the '70s who first made it popular, according to

One state is responsible for the drink's star ingredient

If you have even the simplest knowledge about a Bloody Mary, you likely know that the main ingredient and the base for the savory cocktail is tomato juice. And though it's theorized the cocktail itself was first created in America in '30s-era New York City, really the drink wouldn't even exist if not for the state of Indiana. 

According to, a chef at the French Lick Springs Hotel in the town of French Lick ran out of oranges to make juice one summer day in 1917. Freaking out about how to prepare a breakfast banquet, he got the idea to turn to another fruit that also happened to be Indiana's most expansive crop: tomatoes

After adding a bit of salt and sugar and straining the seeds, he had a winner — and tomato juice quickly caught on after that first fateful morning. Eventually it was made in mass and marketed as a healthful breakfast drink, and later became the mascot of most early morning menus at restaurants.

The original recipe actually used black pepper vodka

Nothing is as good as the original, and that holds true for the Bloody Mary as well. Though the secrets of the original recipe for the most part have been withheld from public record, recently some details came to light. In fact, the recipe for the first drink — allegedly made in the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel in New York — looked to have combined two ingredients. According to Thrillist, the original King Cole Bar drink called for what they referred to as "liquid black pepper."

Though today, many people add vodka and a pinch of black pepper separately into a Bloody Mary, the original recipe mixed them together for a pretty potent taste. The bartender responsible, Fernand Petiot, is said to have infused black peppercorns into vodka for roughly a month-and-a-half before adding a few dashes of the concoction to the drink. What resulted was more heat than simply a pinch of freshly ground black pepper could provide.

It's one of the most popular in-flight drinks

While you probably can't go one weekend without seeing a Bloody Mary on someone's table at breakfast or brunch, the other place Bloody Marys do quite well is in the air. According to The Spirits Business, scientists once thought that this specialty drink actually tasted stronger while on board a plane due to the increase in altitude that they theorized influenced taste buds. It gave them enough pause that they even conducted a study to find out just why Bloody Marys were the preferred drink of frequent fliers.

The true reason, they found out, was actually because people tended to prefer the savory flavors of the Bloody Mary that somehow tempers the noise inside the cabin. Apparently, those flying felt that a sweet drink with sugary flavors was harder to enjoy within the auditory chaos. Instead, they favored the umami notes that are present in this drink, thanks to ingredients like the tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, and celery salt. Quite a pro tip for the next time you fly and forget the noise-canceling headphones!

The Bloody Mary got the Hemingway treatment

Just like the Hemingway Daiquiri, the Bloody Mary got a makeover from the famous author. According to Thrillist, Ernest Hemingway liked to make the classic cocktail in larger quantities, by the pitcher rather than the glass. His expanded recipe was an easy tweak from the original, but it really amped up the flavor of the drink.

In addition to a liter each of vodka and tomato juice, he also used a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, a bit of celery salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and two limes' worth of juice. Though this combination is not a massive departure from the original, it's certainly enough to serve a crowd. Not to mention the extra heat and acid from the cayenne and lime juice makes it absolutely mouth-watering. So the next time you're looking for a novel twist on a classic or simply something to shake up your routine, give Hemingway's twist a try.