Since its invention, the Bloody Mary has
earned quite a reputation. Rivaling the mimosa in its brunch-time
popularity, the tomato-juice-and-vodka mixture acts as scrambled eggs’
spicy sidekick. Expert drinkers even tout the Bloody Mary’s
hangover-cure reputation, making it a prime choice for those
morning-after headaches. As anyone serious about liquor will reveal,
one secret to curing a hangover—for some, anyway—lies in consuming more
As popular legend has it, the Bloody
Mary came about when a creative bartender in Paris combined equal
amounts of tomato juice and vodka into an “on-the-rocks” cocktail. When
a gentleman at the Paris bar suggested the name Bloody Mary because it
reminded him of a waitress named Mary who worked at the Bucket of Blood
bar in Chicago, a new alcoholic beverage was born. Although some tried
to change the name to the classier “Red Snapper,” nothing stuck quite
like Bloody Mary.
Today, the International Bartender’s
Association (IBA) lists only tomato juice, lemon juice and vodka as
required ingredients in the cocktail, which leaves bartenders ample
room for experimentation. From pepperoni to smoked chipotle peppers,
bartenders often take that challenge to heart. And for those of you who
don’t imbibe (or at least at 9 in the morning), a Virgin Mary includes
all the ingredients, except for the vodka.
Will Minney, owner of Wild Will’s
Saloon, 139 E. Water St., is well known for his pepperoni Bloody Mary.
“It’s been a big hit the last couple of years,” says Minney. “It hits
all the food groups.”
The secret to the drink calls for the
use of a food processor to grind a stick of Hormel pepperoni into a
paste before liquefying it by mixing the paste with tomato juice. One
teaspoon of the paste mix is then added to more tomato juice,
Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, horseradish, salt, pepper and
celery to create a unique cocktail that has won first, second and third
place at the Syracuse Winterfest Bloody Mary Mix-off over the past
Minney also worked with his wife and her
friends to concoct other Bloody Mary mixes such as the Southwestern
Bloody Mary, which called for cayenne pepper, dried chipotle peppers
and fresh tomatoes. “The Friday night before Winterfest, my wife and
her girlfriends and I sit and make different Bloody Marys until we get
a consensus. The pepperoni one was mine, though,” Minney says with a
Al’s Wine & Whiskey Lounge, 321 S.
Clinton St., takes a different approach on an old favorite. Their mild,
“sweet, sour, smoky, spicy” version calls for barbecue sauce, smoked
chipotle peppers, lemon, lime and olive juice.
Although co-owner Carl Johnson says the
bar typically sells fewer Bloody Marys than the other downtown bars
because the 4 p.m. opening misses the morning hours that account for
“prime Bloody Mary time,” the recipe has been an Al’s standby since the
bar opened in 1996.
When searching for Syracuse’s defending
champion Bloody Mary drink, travel across the street to Empire Brewing
Company, 120 Walton St. Bartender Jeff Rogers deserves credit for
creating the Winterfest first-prize winner for the past two years.
Rogers’ high-quality version calls for
fresh garlic, pickle juice and Empire’s own pickled green beans. Add a
little V-8 juice, rim the glass with Old Bay seasoning, and the
gold-medal Cajun Mary can be served.
“It has a very different taste than just
Tabasco and tomato juice,” explains Rogers, who notes the drink is
extremely popular at the Blues Brunch, Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30
p.m. throughout the fall and winter.
Rogers also exudes confidence that his
Bloody Mary blend will take the taste title for the third year in a row
at Winterfest. “Absolutely,” says Rogers, “the presentation has changed
but the recipe stays the same.”
To find out what all the liquid
tomato fuss is about, the Bloody Mary Mix-Off will take place as part
of the 2010 Syracuse Winterfest on Sunday, Feb. 22, noon to 4 p.m. For
a complete schedule, visit www.syracusewinterfest.com.
Hanover Square hottie: Will Minney, owner of Wild Will’s Saloon, concocted a pepperoni Bloody Mary, which has won its share of awards at Winterfest.