The history of the Bloody Mary cocktail 🩸

2 Bloody Mary cocktails and an Ultimate Bloody Mary Kit

Every classic cocktail came from somewhere. Whilst the origins of some are lost in the mists of time, the moment of invention for others becomes a story passed from bartender to customer forever more. Some origin stories are widely accepted, others hotly contested but whatever the truth, these invention stories give context, history and cultural significance to our favourite drinks and help them on their journey to becoming iconic.

Who invented the Bloody Mary?

The Bloody Mary cocktail has several origin stories but the most widely accepted claims that the Bloody Mary is 100 years old this year and for that reason alone, it’s a story worth retelling.

The story goes that a young bartender named Fernand “Pete” Petiot invented the Bloody Mary at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1921. At that time, Harry’s was a hangout for US expats seeking the familiarity of an American style bar in the days of prohibition and it became popular with many stars of the day including Humphrey Bogart, Ernest Hemingway and Rita Hayworth.

Black and white photo of Fernand Petiot, the creator of the Bloody Mary cocktail, serving drinks behind a bar.
Fernand Petiot

In the early 1920s, Russians escaping the Revolution were arriving in Paris and bringing vodka with them. The Americans brought canned tomato juice which was sold on menus during Prohibition under the name ‘tomato juice cocktail’. And from that unique combination of imported flavours, and Petiot’s addition of spices, lemon juice and seasoning, the Bloody Mary was born.

Some stories suggest that the Bloody Mary was named after a server named Mary who worked at a saloon bar called The Bucket Of Blood in Chicago. Others claim it was named after Queen Mary Tudor of England. No one knows for sure, but as Prohibition waned the drink took off in America and the name stuck. The rest as they say is history.

The Bloody Mary hangover cure

Over the years the Bloody Mary has become known as a hangover cure through it’s classic combination of poison (alcohol) and remedy (tomato juice) and has developed a unique status as a ‘lunchtime cocktail’. These days, 100 years after its creation in Paris, the Bloody Mary is central to brunch culture around the world and it’s this association with the social aspect of meeting with friends the morning after for food and a drink that we find so appealing about it.


IWSET Spirits Educator Rose Brookman perfectly sums it up:

“There has always been a morning after the night before, and there has always been the search for the elusive elixir that will stave off the dreaded symptoms of the inevitable hangover. The Bloody Mary is the closest we have got to such a potion; with its perceived restorative powers replenishing the body and aiding recovery the next day. It has a strong association with friendship, and the supportive group mentality of surviving the pain of the morning after together. It is often consumed at a time where the bonds of friendship are sealed amongst the reminiscing of the night before.”

Although it probably wasn’t created to be a hangover cure specifically, it is this reputation that has shaped the Bloody Mary into the cocktail we know and love today. In a way, the Bloody Mary has taken ownership of its own story, but the 100 year anniversary is as good a reason as any to celebrate with one this year.

The Ultimate Bloody Mary

The Ultimate Bloody Mary Kit is our contribution to Bloody Mary history and brunch culture. We have taken a classic cocktail that is infinitely customisable and settled on our ultimate recipe; Black Garlic Vodka distilled with smoky lapsang souchong and toast and a specially created hot sauce for the perfect balance of spice and seasoning. Just add tomato juice.

Buy The Ultimate Bloody Mary Kit here.

The Ultimate Bloody Mary KitThe Ultimate Bloody Mary Kit