Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Who brought you that Bloody Mary?

March 10, 2014

Mixologist's Salt Collection | UncommonGoodsThere is a lot of debate about the origin of the Bloody Mary. A bartender named Fernand Petiot claimed to have invented the recipe in 1921 while working at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Popular comedian George Jessel also purportedly created the drink while frequenting the 21 Club in New York City during the 1930s. But the men arguably most responsible for bringing us the Bloody Mary today might just be the father and son team of John and Ralph Kemp, from Frankfort, Indiana. See, before the Kemps came along, tomato juice was a rarity. It could only be served fresh, because the solids in it would very quickly separate, leaving an unpleasant texture. But the Kemps experimented with putting it through a viscolizer—a device used in commercially producing ice cream—and in 1928 they were successful at producing a tomato juice that maintained its quality on the shelves. That soon led to canned tomato juice, which led to the juice being accessible anywhere at any time of year. And at some point that was followed by a fortuitous conjoining of tomato juice with vodka, which has in turn contributed to making brunch a much more entertaining event.

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