Next month will mark eight decades since Fernand Petiot made his first Red Snapper at Manhattan’s King Cole Bar. The Snapper, of course, is just the bar’s name for the cocktail that everyone else calls a Bloody Mary. And even if that’s not the exact moment the drink was truly born — as with all things like this, the origins are somewhat disputed — it was nevertheless a seminal moment in the birth of the Bloody Mary. And it’s still a truly great drink, when made correctly. The problem is that in the 80 years since Petiot first mixed his version of the drink, American bartenders have seemingly conspired to turn it into something truly outlandish and terrible.
Here is the King Cole Bar’s method, from bartender Louis Rodopoulos, who started on the job way back in 1955 and learned from Petiot himself:
Two dashes of salt, two dashes of pepper cayenne pepper and black pepper. A couple dashes of Lea & Perrins sauce, and then squeeze a lime or two, and mix it all together. Shake it once or twice, then pour it into the glass with two and a half ounces of tomato juice and two ounces of vodka. You mix it all together, you put it into a highball glass, and then you put in the celery stick.
Sounds good. Nice and lean, a little bit of spice. Simple. No reason to mess with it. But people have been doing just that, and it appears we won’t be satisfied until a once-proud drink becomes a literal joke. Just today, this photo was trending on Reddit:
Turns out this photo is actually an elaborate hoax created by a comedian named Randy Liedtke. But the thing is that this joke Bloody Mary — complete with an entire second Bloody Mary as part of the garnish — isn’t all that different from the Michael Bay-ification of the cocktail that’s happening with alarming frequency out there in the real world. To wit: There’s a whole fried-chicken garnish in Milwaukee. There are add-on crawfish and burgers, and even onion-ring garnishes out there, too.
It’s been mentioned in this space before, but it’s apparently worth reiterating: Stop ruining a perfectly good drink. If you want to add a dash of celery salt, fine. Drop a pickle in as garnish, okay. Horseradish is an acceptable addition, too. But that’s it. Anything more and we’re back on the road to trying to get a whole pizza and this drink deserves to be treated better than that.