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What’s The Right Way To Make A Bloody Mary?

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Google “Bloody Mary” and you’ll get results for either the iconic brunch cocktail or the bloodthirsty English queen. Heck, some will give you both, as the drink is most likely named for the monarch.

The first precursor to the Bloody Mary to enter the drinking scene was the Oyster Cocktail. Made from lemon juice, Tabasco, oysters, and tomato juice, this warm virgin drink gained popularity around 1892.

In the 1920s, canned tomato juice started gaining popularity within the United States, and Americans who’d picked up the taste brought it with them to Paris, where it remained popular amongst ex-pats. At the same time, Russian refugees fleeing the Russian Revolution began arriving with vodka and caviar.

At Harry’s Bar in Paris, someone gave bartender Fernand “Pete” Petoit vodka around this time. He began experimenting with the neutral spirit, but found the resulting tipples lacking. That is, until he received some canned tomato juice and mixed the two together.

Some, including Petoit, give credit for the half vodka, half tomato juice drink to actor and comedian George Jessel. In 1927, he supposedly ordered a Bloody Mary as a hangover cure after a rough night.

Once the drink was tweaked, Petoit called it the Bucket of Blood after a westside Chicago nightclub. American ex-pats and tourists loved it, and it gained traction. After Prohibition ended, Petoit was poached by the King Cole bar in Manhattan.

Westward, ho!

At the King Cole, the tomato-based concoction was renamed the Red Snapper to appeal to Americans’ more delicate sensibilities. The drink's popularity in the States spread from there.

By 1946, the familiar brunch cocktail started appearing in print under the name Bloody Mary. The bar or bartender responsible for that name isn't entirely clear, but Mr. & Mrs. T’s Bloody Mary mix—which was released in the 1960s—cemented the drink's name and its basic template: vodka, tomato juice, spice, savory elements, something with spicy heat, and an aromatic garnish. The now-ubiquitous celery stick garnish was apparently ordered by a customer as a means to stir his or her drink, and it caught on.

Garnish Game

From there, the drink has been adapted, adopted, and customized almost everywhere it appears on a menu. Most recipes have little in common other than the tomato juice and vodka. Sometimes, even the vodka gets switched out to create a new twist like a Scotch-based Braveheart Bloody Mary.

Nowadays, it seems that one of the biggest goals in building a Bloody Mary is to create an extremely intricate garnish. Cheeseburger sliders, blue cheese-stuffed olives, shrimp—all have appeared on top of the cocktail.

Hit The Lab

Red Snapper

Modified from the King Cole Bar recipe.

1 oz Stolichnaya vodka
2 oz tomato juice
1 dash lemon juice
2 dashes salt
2 dashes pepper
2 dashes cayenne pepper
3 dashes Worchestershire sauce

Pour all ingredients into a pint glass full of ice. Garnish with a stick of celery.

Morning Mary

Modified from recipe used at Tales of the Cocktail event.

1 oz Reyka vodka
2 oz yellow tomato juice
4 basil leaves
1 dill sprig
1 dash chili sauce
Juice of half a lemon
Olive, red cherry tomato, and feta cube on cocktail stick for garnish

Run the unjuiced half of the lemon around the rim of a highball glass. Dip the rim in lava salt (or regular kosher salt) and fill the glass with ice. Combine all ingredients in the glass. Stir until chilled, and garnish.

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What's the Right Way to Make a Sazerac?
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If you pronounce New Orleans "New Or-leens," or if you can’t get enough of those Big Ass Beers sold on Bourbon Street, you’re probably not actually from New Orleans. But if you’re feeling adventurous and missing the Big Easy, a Sazerac might be just what the doctor ordered. 

‘Tails and Stories

A few hundred years ago, you might have actually gotten a doctor’s order for a Sazerac. One of the drink's origin stories claims that it was invented by New Orleans apothecary Antoine Amedie Peychaud. According to this tale, Mr. Peychaud mixed up the drink with his eponymous bitters and served it in an egg coupe in his shop. 

A more likely origin story states that the drink was invented by a different New Orleans resident (though in the same neighborhood). Around 1850, Sewell T. Taylor sold his bar to Aaron Bird and went into the import business. One of his products happened to be Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils brandy. While Taylor was importing, Bird renamed his bar the Sazerac House and began serving a house cocktail that featured Taylor’s brandy and, as the story goes, bitters made by his neighborhood apothecary, Mr. Peychaud.

In the 1870s and 1880s, Europe's grape crops were decimated by an infestation of American aphids. In just four years, French wine production was cut by 67 percent, and even the most dedicated cognac drinkers switched to whiskey. For New Orleans, that meant switching to rye whiskey that was shipped to the city down the Ohio River and through the Mississippi. Thomas Handy, who owned the Sazerac Bar during that time period, likely switched the drink's main ingredient. This take on the signature cocktail is the one that found its way into the 1908 edition of The World's Drinks and How To Mix Them, with the recipe calling for "good whiskey," not Sazerac cognac. 

The origins of the Sazerac’s name is vague. It’s possible that it was a nod to the fact that it was the bar's house cocktail, but it’s also possible that it’s a reference to the brand of brandy. In those days, “cocktail” referred to a specific alcoholic drink format. As put forth by The Balance and Columbian Repository in 1806, a “cock-tail” is “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” If you wanted this type of drink with whiskey in it, you would ask for a Whiskey Cocktail. If you wanted Sazerac brandy (until the aphid plague, at least), you'd ask for a Sazerac cocktail.

Hit the Lab

Sazerac Recipe:

2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
.25 oz simple syrup (or a sugar cube)
2 oz good rye whiskey (use the good stuff)
lemon peel for garnish

Place the sugar cube into an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Dash the bitters onto the cube and muddle. Add whiskey and one large ice cube and stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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What’s the Right Way to Make a Caipirinha?
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Flickr User Janice Waltzer // CC BY 2.0

The Rio Olympics start in just a few weeks, and all eyes are on Brazil. To celebrate, we decided to focus on the country’s most famous cocktail creation: the Caipirinha.

In form, the Caipirinha is pretty much a Brazilian Daiquiri. It’s made from sugar, lime, and cachaça. Cachaça could be considered a cousin to rum, but it is altogether unique. While most rum is made from molasses, cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice.

Unlike rum, which can be made anywhere, cachaça can only be made in Brazil. Though it’s often sold unaged, it is usually matured in woods that are native to Brazil, like peanut and balm. As with wine, beer, and whiskey, different kinds of wood affect the product inside differently.

The classifications of cachaça aren’t based on the type of cask in which it’s aged. It can get a bit confusing: Spirit that is not stored in wood or is kept in stainless steel vats before it’s bottled is often called branca (white). But cachaça aged in wood that doesn’t color the liquor may also be labeled as branca. This category goes under several other names, including prata (silver) and clássica (classic).

Cachaça that’s stored or aged in wood is usually labeled as amarela (yellow), in reference to its color. These may also be labeled as ouro (gold). Envelhecida (aged) cachaça, a subtype of amarela, is a bit more involved: it’s considered aged if more than 50 percent of the content of the bottle has been aged for at least a year in a barrel that’s 700 liters or smaller.

Cachaça is the “third most produced distilled drink in the world,” according to Alcohol In Latin America: A Social and Cultural History. Though more than 5000 brands existed in 2008, it was relatively ignored outside of Brazil until the recent resurgence of craft cocktails. In fact, until 2013, it had to be labeled “Brazilian rum” to be imported into the U.S. As a result, it’s often mistaken by many people for being a type of rum.

Unfortunately, we don’t really know anything definite about the origins of the Caipirinha. Like the Mojito and the Old Fashioned, the formula was perhaps first used in folk medicine. Carlos Lima, the executive director of IBRAC (the Brazilian Institute of Cachaça) told Casa e Jardim that a mix of lime, garlic, and honey with a pour of cachaça was probably used in São Paulo around 1918 as a remedy for the Spanish Flu.

As the story goes, someone eventually decided to skip the garlic and honey. Then, to balance the acidity of the lime, sugar was added. Over time, the drink spread into bars, ice entered the equation, and it became the Caipirinha we know today.

HIT THE LAB

Like the Mojito, the classic Caipirinha recipe is quite simple, but it’s also been the subject of many, many variations. We’ve included the International Bartenders Association (IBA) recipe as well as a modern take on the drink.

Caipirinha
Modified from the IBA website.

2 ounces Cachaça
1/2 of a lime
1 tablespoon sugar

Muddle lime and sugar in an Old Fashioned glass. Fill with ice and pour cachaça over it. Stir and enjoy.

Prata B. (Puerto Rico Asta Ah Brazil)
Recipe by Luis Ramos, bar manager of Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco.

1 3/4 ounces Avua Prata Cachaça
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce pineapple gomme syrup
1/2 ounce Pedro Ximenez sherry
1/4 ounce Punt e Mes
Grated nutmeg, lime zest, lime wheel for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a Collins glass. Add crushed ice and stir until glass frosts. Top glass with grated nutmeg, lime zest, and lime wheel.

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