Bloody Mary: 80 Years of Brightening Brunch

Wake up and smell the tomato juice: The Bloody Mary turns 80 this year.

Fernand Petiot, a bartender at the St. Regis New York’s King Cole Bar, gets credit for debuting the now-classic cocktail in 1934. And over the weekend, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts began hosting a series of Bloody Mary brunches (featuring 80 variations on St. Regis’ signature recipe) at its properties around the world.

The savory, spicy concoction has aged well: Unlike some storied specialty drinks (daiquiris, Mai Tais and martinis among them) that are seeing their menu incidence decline, Bloody Marys still are gaining ground on menus. The number of Bloody Marys on menus at U.S. bars and restaurants climbed 8.2% from Q3 2013 to Q3 2014, Technomic’s MenuMonitor online resource finds.

What do we know about consumers’ interest in Bloody Marys? A few findings from recent Technomic Trends in Adult Beverage studies:

  • 33% of consumers order Bloody Marys once a month or more often
  • 58% of consumers who order the cocktail drink two or more per occasion
  • 54% of consumers say house-made mix is most appealing for Bloody Marys

As we discussed this spring, Bloody Marys’ menu growth reflects rising interest in savory flavors on cocktail menus. Today’s flavor-seeking adult beverage consumer is more open to trying drinks that feature spicy or herbaceous notes; witness the proliferation of chile-salted rims and muddled jalapenos in cocktails ranging from Marys to margaritas. And as brunch menus get an upgrade from restaurant operators looking to capture more sales at this popular daypart (89% of consumers eat brunch at a restaurant at least occasionally, according to a 2013 Technomic poll), Bloody Marys are getting new attention, too. Flavored vodkas—especially chipotle and pepper varieties—are helping operators deliver contemporary takes on one of brunch’s most iconic drinks. Anything that signals local or original, too, whether it’s a garnish of house-pickled vegetables, the use of a scratch-made special mix or a recipe/name that pays homage to a hometown football team, also is a good bet for adding interest to Bloody Marys on menus.

Here’s a look at seven signature Bloody Marys now appearing on menus:

  • The Epic Mary, Area 31, The Epic Hotel (Miami): House-infused horseradish vodka, oven-roasted tomatoes, fresh lemon, Area 31’s spice blend, celery salt, house-pickled cherry tomatoes ($13)
  • The Big Red Hammer, La Petite Grocery (New Orleans): House-made Bloody Mary mix, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, poached shrimp, blue crab claws and house-pickled vegetables served in a Mason jar with a fork ($16)
  • The Hail Mary, Baumhower’s Restaurant (Montgomery, AL): BAMA vodka with house Bloody Mary mix ($7.99)
  • Cooper’s Hawk Bloody Mary, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants: With a skewer of aged cheddar, shrimp, blue cheese, olive, grape tomato, pickle, chili powder and a sidecar of local craft beer ($9.25)
  • Bloody Baconator, Hamburger Mary’s Bar and Grille: Made with house-infused bacon vodka, house-made Bloody Mary mix, spices and horseradish and served with a strip of bacon in the glass ($10)
  • Clean Mary, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar: Rain organic cucumber vodka, tomato juice, hand-muddled cucumber, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, jalapeno and a black sea-salt rim; fewer than 150 calories (price unavailable)
  • Cochino Caliente Bloody Mary, El Vez (Philadelphia): Habanero-infused silver tequila, bacon and chipotle spice blend ($9)

Christine LaFave Grace

Christine LaFave Grace writes for and produces Technomic's Trends & Directions e-newsletters. She joined Technomic in 2013 as an associate editor. Her previous roles include assistant digital editor for Crain Communications’ Modern Healthcare magazine and associate editor at Reed Business Information’s Restaurants & Institutions magazine.

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