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There’s Something About (Bloody) Mary

Taking a closer look at the iconic cocktail

A menu at a local fish market displays various types of ceviche available in Panama City, Panama.


Whether you love the taste, or you’re in need of some “hair of the dog,” there’s nothing quite like that first sip of a bloody mary. Though there are a handful of origin myths, most seem to agree that the cocktail was invented in the 1920’s by a French bartender named Fernand Petiot at Harry’s New York Bar, a swanky Parisian bar. Petiot mixed vodka and tomato juice, which smoothed the sharp bite of vodka. From there, the cocktail spread to America, and the rest is history.

The base recipe is like a simple melody, with bartenders supplying their own jazzy improvisations. Some add hot sauce or a touch of olive juice. Others go wild with garnishes, adding cocktail shrimp or cheese-stuffed olives, making the drink almost a meal in itself.

Paying respects to the cocktail’s French roots, we reached out to favorite bistro and patisserie, Versailles, in Greenwich. This eatery is a slice of Paris and a go-to spot for mouthwatering food since 1981. They provided their recipe for a perfect bloody mary.

Versailles Bloody Mary Recipe                                                          

3 oz. Sacramento Tomato Juice
1 ½ oz. vodka of choice
½ tsp. Black Pepper
½ tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. Horseradish
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
The juice from one lemon and one lime

Add the ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice. Mix well. Add celery stalk as a garnish.

Though many might not want to mess with such a classic recipe, you can easily craft your own signature bloody mary. Just think: Sauce, Savory, Spice. Start out with a high-quality tomato-based juice or sauce. Purists stick to tomato juice, while the daring use clamato—a mix of clam and tomato juice. Vegetable purees or tomato sauces with basil add a depth of flavor.

For the savory component, think creatively! Add beef stock for richness. A few drops of soy sauce add a fine saltiness that brightens the taste of tomato. Salt and pepper are a must, but you can shake up the spices. Add cayenne for smoky heat. Crumbled bacon is surprisingly delicious, and even a great way to rim your glass. If you love a good kick, reach for sriracha, a chili sauce that’s a staple in Thai cuisine. Add your favorite vodka, a splash of lemon or lime juice, et voila, you’re a mix-master.  

If you’d rather let the pros do the work, these Fairfield County eateries serve up a mean bloody mary.

Artisan Southport

Serving brunch Sundays from 10 am-3pm, Artisan’s price fixed brunch includes coffee, tea, a mimosa, or a bloody mary. Their brunch specialties, like the lighter-than-air pancake short stack with strawberry butter, are sweet counterpoints to a spicy bloody mary.

Inside the Delamar Southport Hotel, 275 Old Post Road, Southport, CT.

The Dressing Room

It’s no surprise that the Dressing Room, famous for delicious food with a local and organic spin, serves delightful cocktails. For a real treat, pair a bloody mary with their Woozie Wickfors’ Egg’s Benedict. Trust us—pick the salmon. The sweet sting of vodka is nicely tempered by the salmon and the homemade hollandaise.

25 Powers Court, Westport.


This restaurant is a welcomed new addition to Stamford’s Harbor Point development. Harlan’s bloody mary includes pickled vegetables and freshly grated horseradish. Much better than the mush that comes in a jar, the fresh horseradish provides that nose-clearing kick. A perfect way to cleanse your palette so you can enjoy a heavenly Belgian waffle topped with vanilla whipped mascarpone and marinated strawberries.

In the Lockworks, 121 Towne St. Stamford, CT   

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