A Spicy Sip

With a bit of heat, a lot of chill and a base that calls for customization, Bloody Marys are the perfect summer cocktail.

Bloody marys are the utility players of the cocktail world. Based on a solid foundation of tomato juice and vodka, they can be a solid brunch staple, an afternoon pick-me-up or even a way to end an evening on a somewhat spicy note. Bloody marys have also become a vessel by which bartenders and restaurateurs express their establishment’s personality. Indeed, some bloody marys — with slabs of bacon or a burger hanging over the side — are so over the top that people travel across the country as part of a bucket list quest to consume them (hopefully with a few friends).

For me — as I believe is true for most of us — a simple bloody mary is the best bloody mary. Just a few fresh, quality ingredients mixed thoughtfully either at home or by a true artisan behind the bar. But is there a bloody mary that exists on another level? Could there be a perfect bloody mary? To answer this question, I enlisted the help of a couple employees at Invited Clubs who are rumored to have some pretty darn good bloody marys on their cocktail menus, as well as a representative of the best bloody mary mix maker out there. But first, we’ve got to talk about the name.

The Hazy History

With a name like bloody mary, there are certain to be several unusual stories about how the cocktail got its name. The most popular opinion is that it was created at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, which celebrated the 100th birthday of the bloody mary last year. The story goes that a young bartender named Fernand Petiot invented the cocktail, which has a fairly simple recipe and is served an estimated 12,000 times a year at Harry’s. While it is believed by most that Petiot also named the drink as an homage to a woman he once dated — she was a dancer named Mary who worked at a place in Chicago called the Bucket of Blood — stories have also surfaced over the years that Ernest Hemingway, a frequent patron at Harry’s, had a hand in coming up with the name.  Still others believe a more nefarious tale about the cocktail’s name: that it’s allegedly named for Queen Mary Tudor, or more specifically, her bloody reign against Protestants in 16th-century England. Theorists claim that tomato juice represents the blood shed during this time and the slightly vicious bite of the vodka symbolizes Queen Mary Tudor’s atrocious means of executing her enemies.

Whatever story you believe, the drink has become one of the most popular cocktails on the planet with seemingly endless variations. Speaking of variations, I talked to two Invited employees to get their Club’s bloody mary story.

Lost Creek Country Club; Austin, Texas

Located in a quaint neighborhood in Austin, Texas, Lost Creek is a family-oriented Club with a rich history and traditions dating back to 1972. One of the must-do’s during a weekend round of golf at their world-class championship course, which is nestled in two valleys along the picturesque Barton Creek Greenbelt, is to visit Dora’s Casita. “Dora’s Casita is our halfway house, the perfect place to start and finish your round and enjoy the views,” says Service Manager James Bungert. “Dora Rivera has been the face of the halfway house for almost two decades at Lost Creek. Her smile, personality and warm welcomes are as much a part of the ambiance as the hillsides that surround the course.”

Dora’s Casita is also where Lost Creek’s version of the bloody mary was created by Dora herself. “The Lost Creek Bloody Mary has been something that Members have come to look forward to as they begin their rounds or just come to say hi to Dora and catch up to start their weekends,” says Bungert. While the Lost Creek Bloody Mary has a slight twist on the classic bloody mary recipe — Dora adds a fair amount of tabasco along with an optional Tajin-rimmed glass to add some heat — there’s one extra ingredient that makes it truly special. “Dora says, ‘You can’t make it without love … that’s what makes it,’” says Bungert.

First Zing and Then Some Zang

Invited is proud that Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix is now featured as the base mix in bloody mary recipes at all Invited Clubs. To get a bit of history on Zing Zang, which is the number-one-selling bloody mary mix in the United States today, I asked E.G. Fishburne, VP of marketing with Zing Zang, to tell the story. “Chicago businessman Richard Krohn loved to make bloody marys; so much, in fact, that he crafted his own signature bloody mary mix recipe, which his wife liked to call ‘Zing Zang’ because she said the mix combined the perfect amount of ‘zing’ and ‘zang.’  Made from a blend of tomato puree with seven real vegetable juices and bold seasonings, his mix became so popular with his friends and family, he decided to bottle and sell it,” Fishburne says.

Wind Watch Golf and Country Club; Hauppauge, Long Island, N.Y.

Perhaps the only thing better than taking in the breathtaking views of the picturesque golf course and community from the patio at the Wind Watch Golf and Country Club, which sits atop the highest point in Hauppauge, is doing so with their signature bloody mary. The drink, which is one of the most popular drinks ordered, uses not only key ingredients, such as Belvedere Vodka, Gold’s Horseradish, celery salt and fresh cracked black pepper, but also input from many staff members over the years. The recipe came about through trial and error, searching for the best bloody mary by experimenting with various recipes. The Club eventually just developed their own, tweaking it until it was just right to ensure that it has the perfect balance of flavor and spice. And since employee input created this drink, it’s one that the entire staff is quite proud of.

Perfection Versus Realization

When you combine a colorful history along with a sky’s-the-limit list of possible ingredients, how then do we answer the question, “Could there be a perfect bloody mary?” The answer is, it probably depends on who and where you are. The great thing about bloody marys is that if you start with a quality foundation — including a premium vodka like Belvedere and a reliable base mix like Zing Zang — you can add a little of this or that to make it uniquely yours. Perhaps the question shouldn’t be “Could there be a perfect bloody mary?” Maybe it should be “What’s your perfect bloody mary experience?” Maybe it’s getting one from Dora, along with a hug, at Lost Creek. Maybe it’s sipping one while taking in the views with your significant other at Wind Watch. Or maybe it’s at your Club, your house or some other special place catching up with friends or family over brunch. Whatever it is, here’s to making your next bloody mary experience as close to perfect as you want it to be.

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