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National Bloody Mary Day celebrates the drinking of the Bloody Mary cocktail, which is described by some as the perfect hangover cure–despite the fact that it happens to contain the very thing that made the person hung over in the first place: alcohol!

Even so, the Bloody Mary is a delicious and tasty beverage that is most often made with vodka, tomato juice, certain spices and Worcestershire sauce, served on the rocks with a celery stalk or a dill pickle.

History of National Bloody Mary Day

The origin of National Bloody Mary Day is perhaps as shrouded in mystery and intrigue as the history of the drink itself. Even the name is quite enigmatic, with various scholars suggesting it was named after Queen Mary I of England, Hollywood star Mary Pickford, or even a waitress named Mary who worked at the Bucket of Blood bar in Chicago. All of these have been given as possible namesakes.

Obviously, the idea of it being named “bloody” has to do with the fact that it is largely made with tomato juice, taking on something like the color and appearance of blood.

No one is quite sure exactly how and where this drink was created. There are at least three different interesting versions of the story behind the creation and naming of the Bloody Mary.

Fernand ‘Pete’ Petiot, a native to the hospitality industry and a bartender who was originally from France, claimed to have invented the Bloody Mary in 1921 when he was working at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. This was a place that was popular with Ernest Hemingway, Rita Hayworth, Humphry Bogart and other famous American expatriates at the time, and it was owned by a former American jockey, Ted Sloan, for many years. In this story, Petiot invented the drink and named it after Queen Mary Tudor of England who was infamous for her execution of followers of protestantism.

Veterinarian-turned-writer James Rollins, on the other hand, has claimed that the Bloody Mary was invented in the Hemingway Bar at The Ritz Paris. Rollins writes about this in his 2010 novel, Sigma Force 6.5: The Skeleton Key, in a section called “What’s True, What’s Not”.

Also, an ocean away, New York’s 21 Club claims that the Bloody Mary was first made there, though they do have two different versions of the story. One is that it was invented in the 1930s by a bartender named Henry Zbikiewicz, and another attributes its invention to the comedian George Jessel, who frequented the 21 Club. Jessel was known as the “Toastmaster General of the United States” and in his autobiography, The World I Live In!, he claims to have created the drink in 1927 (in Palm Beach, Florida).

In fact, one of the earliest printed references to the drink in the United States occurred in 1939 in a gossip column by Lucius Beebe called This New York, where he attributes the drink to George Jessel.

The fact that National Bloody Mary Day takes place on the first day of January is probably directly related to the fact that people have been out drinking and partying the night before, on New Years’ Eve. This is a great opportunity to take the party from the night before and turn it into a New Years’ Day brunch, enjoying a toast to the start of something new.

Happy National Bloody Mary Day!

National Bloody Mary Day Timeline

14th Century

First recording of vodka

One of the most important ingredients in a Bloody Mary is, of course, vodka. Without it, the drink is simply a Virgin Mary! While some think that vodka has been present in Poland and Russia since perhaps the 8th or 9th century, there is no record of it until this time.[1]


Queen Mary is born

Mary I, or Mary Tudor, is born to parents King Henry VIII and Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon. She is the first queen to rule England and gets the nickname, “Bloody Mary” through her persecution and killing of Protestants who refused to convert to Catholicism.[2]


Tomato juice is created

Because of a lack of access to oranges when guests want orange juice, a creative business owner in French Lick Resort in Indiana simply juices what he has–tomatoes! It becomes a sensation and quickly leads to the creation of mixed drinks.[3]


Bloody Mary is invented

Fernand “Pete” Petoit tends bar at The New York Bar in Paris, famous for its patronage of artistic names such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and George Gershwin. Some say a patron noted that it reminded him of a girl he knew called Mary whom he met at a bar called “Bucket of Blood” in Chicago.[4][5]


TABASCO Bloody Mary Mix hits the US market

In an effort to capitalize on the interest in the drink, the McIlhenny company made it easier for folks to make their Bloody Marys by creating a premade mix that could simply be added to vodka.[6]

How to Celebrate National Bloody Mary Day

Getting into the spirit of this day is fun and easy! Try out some of these ways to celebrate National Bloody Mary Day or come up with some other creative pursuits to honor the day:

Enjoy a Bloody Mary with Friends

The best and easiest way to celebrate National Bloody Mary Day is by inviting some friends over to mix up and then enjoy a Bloody Mary or two. Or three. For those who have never tried one before, the idea of combining tomato juice with vodka may not sound particularly appetizing, but this is the time to do it! There is a good reason why this is one of the most famous and popular drinks the world over–so go ahead and find out for yourself what it is!

Try a New Version of the Bloody Mary

Go for a classic recipe of this drink (see below) or try out some other interesting variations with unique ingredients:

  • Bloody Maria. Switch out the vodka for tequila to bring out a strong finish to the alcohol flavor. And, just for fun, use some jalapeno peppers as a garnish on this one!
  • Red Snapper Cocktail. Using gin instead of vodka offers a hint of a botanical finish on the tail end of the flavor.
  • Bloody Caesar. A rather Canadian version of this drink uses clam juice (Clamato) instead of regular tomato juice, offering an interesting seafood flavor.
  • Virgin Mary. For those who are underage, are trying to avoid alcohol as designated drivers, or are simply a bit more health conscious, this drink can be just as tasty without the alcohol.

Make a Classic Bloody Mary Recipe

Making this drink is fairly straightforward, and typically the list of ingredients can be found in most well-stocked kitchens.

Classic Bloody Mary Recipe

(serves 2)

  • 2 lime wedges
  • Ice cubes
  • 4 oz high quality vodka
  • 8 oz Tomato juice
  • 4 dashes Tabasco Sauce
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pinches celery salt
  • 2 pinches ground black pepper
  • 2 pinches smoked paprika
  • Celery stalks for garnish

Put a little celery salt onto a small plate. Rub the juicy side of a lime wedge along the lip of a pint glass. Then, roll the outer edge of the glass in celery salt to coat it; repeat with the second glass. Put some ice cubes in both glasses and set aside. Put the lime wedges into a shaker and add the remaining ingredients. Shake gently several times, then strain into the prepared glasses. Garnish with a celery stalk and the leftover 2 lime wedges.

Try Different Pairings with a Bloody Mary

For those who are looking for something to pair the drinks with, maybe try a platter of simple crackers with cubed cheeses or spicy salamis, as their flavor will complement the drink nicely. Another great idea is to put out some olives or pickles as a snack. Obviously, it is best to steer clear of anything sweet, like fruits or (heaven forbid) chocolates.

But the truth is that if there are enough Bloody Marys, nobody should care too much about what snacks there are! But these ideas will keep folks in balance as they enjoy their drinks.

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