The Bloody Mary has been around since the days of Great Depression of the 1930s—it celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010 at the bar that claims to be its U.S. birthplace, the St. Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar in New York. A number of well-known chefs lined up their signature versions of the cocktail to honor the occasion.
The bright red tomato-and-vodka concoction seems to be having a real renaissance these days. It is one red-hot trend. As reported by Steve Garbarino, writing for the Wall Street Journal, each section of the country appears to own its own regional version of the Bloody.
- Chipotle chilies and cilantro in the Southwest
- Pickled “spicy beans” and okra in the Deep South
- Boiled shrimp and smoked oysters along the coasts
- Beef sticks for stirrers in the cattle states
Garnishes are all over the board with the Bloody Mary, from traditional celery stalks and olive spears to more exotic choices such as Brussels sprouts, baby turnips, jalapeños and green beans. Seasonality often plays a role here, and sometimes the Bloody Mary becomes more of a meal than a beverage.
Bloody good soup
Speaking of meals, over in the UK you can now find Bloody Mary soup on supermarket shelves. New Covent Garden has just launched the new product; it’s the fresh food company’s first-ever alcoholic soup, and can be served chilled or hot. It contains a spicy blend of plum tomatoes, garlic, onions, celery, hot pepper sauce and Worcester sauce as well as that key ingredient: a splash of vodka.
“Bloody Mary certainly meets consumers’ growing demand for innovative and distinctive flavor options,” says Nigel Parrott, New Covent Garden’s Group Marketing Director. “It’s an eye-catching addition to the category that is guaranteed to drive new, curious consumers to the fixture – adults only, of course!” The company has made Bloody Mary it’s “soup of the month” for June.
Back in the U.S., the upscaling of the drink has led to a number of new Bloody Mary drink mixers now crowding the liquor section of your favorite store. In addition to the familiar and salty mix from Mr & Mrs T, you can find mild and extra-spicy varieties from Tabasco, and a “low-sodium Spicy Hot” number from V8. A new entry called Zing Zang has earned some artisanal awards. It’s infused with vinegar, spinach, watercress, tamarinds and chili peppers. We’ve recently tried that one, and it’s outstanding.
Still, some insist that for a good Bloody Mary, simple is still best, preferring the basic original recipe created some 75+ years ago: add equal parts vodka and tomato juice, shake and pour over ice.
However you like your Bloody—mild, medium or spicy—it seems there’s little argument that the cocktail is red hot right now.
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