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The History of the Bloody Mary Cocktail

The Bloody Mary cocktail has its origins in the Oyster Cocktail, a warm, nonalcoholic drink containing tomato juice, Tabasco, lemon juice, and oysters that was invented in 1892. In the 1920s, nonalcoholic tomato juice cocktails gained widespread popularity. Then in 1927, actor and comedian George Jessel reportedly ordered a drink made with equal parts vodka and tomato juice; it was supposedly made to help him deal with a hangover. In 1934, Fernand Petiot became the head bartender at the St. Regis in Manhattan and created the Bloody Mary; it is not clear whether he was influenced by Jessel’s drink or if he created it entirely on his own, but the recipe quickly gained popularity. By the 1950s and 1960s, the Bloody Mary had become a popular drink in many parts of the world and was especially popular at brunch or as a supposed hangover cure. Around this time, an unknown customer reportedly asked for a celery stick to stir their drink and the garnish quickly became part of the recipe. In the 1960s, Herb and June Taylor released their Mr. and Mrs. T Bloody Mary mix, cementing what are now the commonly accepted ingredients for the drink. While there are many versions of the Bloody Mary cocktail available today, they are all based on the 1960s formulation and the drink remains a popular order at bars and restaurants all over the world.

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