The Bloody Mary has long been the poster girl for hangover cures, up there with anything deep fried and handfuls of Berocca. There is, sadly, no real scientific evidence to suggest that the Mary contains a magical ability to alleviate the damage caused by frivolity. Nonetheless, the restorative effects are at times all in the mind, so knowing how to prepare a good Mary can do wonders for your state of mind whilst in the hangover zone. [fold]

As with many cocktails of the 1920s, we can’t pinpoint the drink’s exact creator or history. Many make claims and all we have are classic cocktail tomes or misinformed articulations of journalists assuming they were the first to uncover the drink.

What we do know, however, is that the drink started out very simply – as with many drinks of the era – and very heavy on the booze (equal parts vodka and tomato juice). Hemingway was partial to a Mary now and again and this reeks heavily of a spec he might have called for. That said, the drink evolved with bartenders looking to add depth and spice to the concoction.

If anything, it is this spice that may hold the magical key to ending your hangover woes. Spice releases endorphins when it hits the tongue, giving you a lift and having the effect of restoring you mentally, if not physically.

Many bars and their tenders lay claim to making the best Bloody Mary, bringing kitchen techniques and ingredients to the humble drink in an attempt to take the Mary even further. Horseradish and red wine have been popular, while beef consommé and bouillon have been creeping onto the spec sheets of many bars.

There are some standards to adhere to and these should not be left out of any Mary. Tomato juice is the base, liquor is interchangeable. Worcestershire sauce is unavoidable and even vegan options are available these days. Lemon juice, salt and pepper are mandatory. Spice is not optional, but its severity is up to you. Tabasco is necessary for its ability to cut through with vinegar, but don’t rely on it as your only source of heat. And never, ever shake a Mary. Tomato juice is fragile and watery enough as it is.

There are no steadfast rules; the perfect Mary is in the eye of the cup-holder. If you order one while out on a Sunday and you’re not asked about spice levels, be wary. Chances are you’ll be underwhelmed or scrambling for a water.

With these suggestions in mind, go forth and create. Perhaps pre-emptively batch the night before, as we all know creativity and cooking ability are severely diminished in the grips of a severe hangover. Should you be struggling, try these recipes to get you started and adapt at will to suit.

The Red Snapper
A take on the classic and a beautifully refined way to enjoy the traditional recipe.

In a cocktail shaker, add:
50ml London dry gin – Beefeater works great
50ml tomato juice – Spring Valley is always a good option
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
10ml lemon juice
5ml sugar syrup
Tabasco to taste (start with 5 dashes)
Try a more flavourful hot sauce (Cholula always works well)
Pinch of sea salt and ground pepper

Add ice and gently roll back and forth. Strain and serve straight up in a coupette or cocktail glass.

The Five a Day Maria
You’ll need a centrifugal juicer for this one, which also subs out Tequila as the liquor.

50ml 100 per cent agave tequila – El Jimador or Tequila Tromba
2 ripe tomatoes (try organic to save from watery juice)
½ beetroot
1 carrot
1 celery stick
1 jalapeno chilli (use discretion or juice separately and add at will)
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
10ml lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper

Rim your glass with limejuice and dunk in sea salt. Add ingredients and leave room for loads of ice. Garnish with celery, a lemon wedge and pickles.

WWMD? Mary
The What Would Momofuku Do? Taking the juice left over from kimchi that is now synonymous with Momofuku and applying it to a Mary is a stroke of genius.

50ml vodka – Ketel One
50ml tomato juice
15ml kimchi juice
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes of Cholula or Louisiana hot sauce
10ml lemon juice
5ml sugar syrup
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Gently roll until chilled. Strain and serve over ice.

Dave Kerr is a bartender and owner of The Beaufort in Melbourne.