3 tales of the Bloody Mary

3 tales of the Bloody Mary


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The humble Bloody Mary cocktail has a curious past: researching the famous hangover cure we found not just one, but three widely debated theories on how the Bloody Mary came to be.

Never has a classic cocktail had such a checkered history.

Check out the speculations below to see which you think is the most credible:

What is a Bloody Mary cocktail?

Each recipe for this savoury cocktail blend is different depending on individual tastes, but besides the staple base of tomato juice and vodka, other spices and flavourings are typically added.

Here’s where it gets fun: pep up yours with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, garlic, herbs, horseradish, celery, olives, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, lime juice and/or celery salt.

Theory 1: Named after Queen Mary Tudor’s bloody reign

So, was it named after a 16th century queen who had the habit of burning people at the stake?

Mary’s brief five year reign as queen was violent and gruesome.

She turned the country back to Roman Catholicism and those who didn’t follow her strict heresy laws feared for their lives.

It’s estimated that 300 Protestants were killed during her time on the throne, earning her the long-remembered nickname “Bloody Mary.”

Or does the drink really come from across the pond?

Theory 2: Named by American socialite Roy Barton

Another theory claims that the drink was named by American socialite Roy Barton, after his favourite waitress, called Mary, who worked at a saloon bar in Chicago called the Bucket of Blood.

The bar was infamous for frequent stabbings and shootings in the area, hence the name.

It was rumoured that Mary and the other waitresses would clean the nasty aftermath with mops and buckets, then pour the contents down the drains in the street outside.

Saloon bar

Or perhaps the name derives from….

Theory 3: A simple slip of the tongue…

Alternatively, some say that the name derives from the mispronunciation of the Slav syllables in a drink called “Vladimir” in English.

Supporters of this theory argue that the first person to make a Bloody Mary was Fernand Petiot in 1921, and that he was doing so for none other than Vladimir Smirnov, from the Smirnoff Vodka family.

Some of the above theories are certainly not for the faint hearted and definitely add a bit of intrigue when preparing and enjoying the classic drink.


Pub Quiz Trivia

Did you know that novelist Ernest Hemingway claimed to have introduced the Bloody Mary to Hong Kong?

He wrote in a 1947 letter that he had brought the iconic drink to Hong Kong in 1941, an act he said “did more than any other single factor except the Japanese Army to precipitate the Fall of that Crown Colony.”


In the mood for a Bloody Mary?

Or two?