Jack McGarry of the Dead Rabbit Bar in NYC said it best: “The Bloody Mary is the Madonna of the cocktail world.” She keeps on reinventing herself. Apart from the classic Gin Martini or maybe the Manhattan, I can’t think of a cocktail that has had so many variations and interpretations. [fold]

Flicking through old cocktail books and magazine articles, evidence suggests that it most likely started its life in the 1920s as a simple drink of tomato, lemon and spices. Further along the track, we witness bartenders from New York, London and Paris throwing in their additions and changing the ratios of the drink. We see lime substituted for lemon; various herbs appear; and of course there’s the introduction of the base spirit. Vodka reigns supreme, however we shouldn’t let the addition of gin go unnoticed (most commonly known as a Red Snapper). Even Pernod has its place in the glass. Whatever the story, I never let history get in the way of a good drink.

The Bloody Mary is easily the most popular beverage at a weekend brunch. It has the vim and vigour for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up and all the medicinal qualities to rank it number one in the ‘hair of the dog’ category. And of course, we all reckon we make the best one.

At Bottleneck, we have our ‘backyard barbecue’ of variations. On our blackboard, there’s a smoky number comprising Johnnie Walker Black and chipotle peppers as well as a south-of-the-border classic, the Michelada (Blanco tequila, lime, beer and tomato). Delicious. I’m currently working on a Caesar recipe, the Canadian classic that substitutes tomato juice with ‘clamato’ (half clam, half tomato).

When it comes to our House Mary we don’t stray too far from the classics: vodka (we use Ketel One), fresh lemon juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper and tomato. Simple. We freshen her up a bit with a daily juice of carrot and celery, and there you have it.

Whichever way you have your Bloody Mary, just remember, anything goes.

See you at the bar.

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