Official proclamations from City Hall are usually pretty stiff and stuffy. But not the one New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented to the St. Regis Hotel in honor of the 75th anniversary of the introduction of the Bloody Mary to New York City. The St. Regis—whose King Cole Bar is celebrating the famous drink through a variety of guest recipes through the month of October—has hung the document in one of its windows for all to see. I don't know if it was meant to be funny and tongue-in-cheek, but it is:
"After a long night in the city that never sleeps, many New Yorkers turn to the ultimate Sunday morning cure-all: The Bloody Mary. While the origins of its name are unclear, there is no disputing that this popular culture here at the St. Regis Hotel. And to on this day, the City of New York is proud to join this landmark institution in celebrating the 75th anniversary the birth of the Bloody Mary.
"Bartender Fernand Petiot invented the drink when he was working at the upscale King Cole Bar in the St. Regis New York. The original recipe he uses while working in Paris contained vodka and tomato juice. But on a fateful day in 1934, Petiot spiced up his drink with salt, pepper, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. The rest, as they say, is history, and the drink quickly became the signature cocktail of the King Cole Bar. Christened the Red Snapper (since Bloody Mary seemed too vulgar for the clientele at the time) it has become a mainstay on the menus of restaurants and bars throughout the five boroughs and far beyond.....
"I am proud to joing the St. Regis New York, the King Cole Bar, and countless New Yorkers in raising a highball glass to this iconic cocktail. Cheer!"
Such pomp! Such circumstance! All for a cocktail! I love that a Mayoral Proclamation is encouraging drinking and actually includes the word "highball."
To honor the anniversary, the St. Regis invited bartenders from elsewhere to provide their spin on the Bloody Mary. There are 15 different kinds on offer through the end of October, along with a few that require 24 hours advance notice, as if they were a soufflé or something. These include concoctions by Alain Ducasse, which involves homemade bouillabaisse; and Wylie Dufresne, which features clear “Bloody Mary consommé,” horseradish-infused vodka and celery bitters, and then carbonates the results with a CO2 tank. Sheesh!
Among the readily available Bloody Marys are inventions by such people and restaurants as Dale DeGroff, the Palm, Back Forty, Blue Smoke, Charlie Palmer, Prune, and The Spotted PIg. 15 different Bloody Mary mixes are a tall order for any bartender. And, sure enough, the day I dropped by, a weekday, only five of the 15 were available. The bartender advised coming on the weekend, when all 15 would likely be on tap. Among the five, I tried the Landmark, which is composed of tomato sauce, black pepper, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, olive juice, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, ketchup and stout beer. 'Twas good.
I hope to get back and try the Ducasse, just because the idea of having to order a cocktail a day in advance is just too...well, you're just not confronted with that situation often, are you?