Is Russian Bloody Mary Good For Our Health?

If you drink cocktail, or are at least familiar with the names of mixed drinks, then you should have heard of Bloody Mary. It is on the list of the most popular cocktails and often mentioned in movies and song lyrics. The main ingredients for this drink are vodka and tomato juice. But, just because it has tomato in it, does it mean it is good for our health?

The History

Several people have claimed themselves as the inventor of Bloody Mary. According to a number of sources, the cocktail was invented by George Jessel in the interval between world wars. The first mention of the cocktail was found in the New York Herald Tribune on December 2, 1939: “A new anti-hangover drink by George Jessel have attracted the attention of correspondents and it is called “Bloody Mary”: half tomato juice, half vodka.”

However, almost 25 years later, Fernand Petio, who worked at King Cole in New York since 1934, told The New Yorker magazine on July 18, 1964 that he had invented a tomato and vodka shake back in the 1920s when he worked as a bartender in a bar called Harry’s in Paris: “I came up with Bloody Mary. George Jessel said that he created the cocktail, but it was only vodka with juice and nothing more when I tried it. I cover the bottom of the shaker with four large pinches of salt, two pinches of pepper, two pinches of cayenne pepper , a layer of Worcester sauce, add a few drops of lemon juice and a little crushed ice, pour two ounces of vodka and two ounces of tomato juice, shake, strain and spill. We prepared from one hundred to one hundred and fifty cocktails a day at the King Cole Bar and other restaurants and banquet halls.”

Putting aside who actually invented the cocktail, Bloody Mary has been so many people’s favorite. The name of the cocktail emphasizes its characteristic blood-red color. There is a legend saying that, having moved from Europe to America, Fernand Petio gave the tomato-vodka cocktail the name “Red Snapper”. However, the bar preferred to call it “Bloody Mary” – as one of the regulars suggested. But, according to another version of this story, everything was exactly the opposite; Fernand Petio named his invention “Bloody Mary”, then the manager of the King Cole Bar tried to rename it “Red Snapper”.

In Poland, the same drink called Krwawa Manka is particularly popular with local patriots who say that the tomato juice at the bottom of the glass and vodka at the upper remind them of the colors of the Polish flag.

The Recipe

Prepared from vodka and tomato juice, with the addition of lemon juice, salt, ground pepper, and in some cases other additives (for example, Worcester sauce, Tabasco sauce, etc.) here are the basic ingredients of the Russian Bloody Mary:

  • 45 ml of vodka
  • 90 ml of tomato juice
  • 15 ml of lemon juice
  • 2-3 drops of Worcester sauce
  • Tabasco
  • A mixture of salt and celery powder
  • Black pepper

The ingredients must be gently mixed and poured into a highball glass. The cocktail can be garnished with celery and a slice of lemon.


Other Versions

While there is no difficulty in mixing vodka and tomato juice, more sophisticated versions of the drink have become trademarks of the bartenders who make them. A common decoration is a celery stick when served in a tall glass, often over ice. The cocktail is usually had with a platter of olives, brines, carrots, mushrooms or other vegetables; sometimes even fish and meat products (salami, shrimp, etc.) and cheese.

In Russia, the ingredients are not mixed, but arranged in layers – juice at the bottom and transparent vodka at the top. To do this, first pour the juice, and then slowly pour vodka along the blade of a knife, so they do not mix. First, vodka is drunk, which is immediately washed down with tomato juice.

Is It A Healthy Cocktail?

It is believed that the Bloody Mary cocktail was originally invented as a drink that removes a hangover syndrome and at the same time gives strength and energy. It is possible because the cocktail is actually very nutritious. In Soviet times, a mixture of vodka and tomato juice sprinkled with ground black pepper was loved not only by eternally hungry students, but also by well-off engineers. Bloody Mary is also classified as a longdrink, which means it is served in a large portion rather than shot glasses.


The calories content of the Russian Bloody Mary cocktail is 60 kcal per 100 ml of drink. This is due to the lower portion of sugar in the tomato juice compared to syrups or other juices used in different cocktails. The capsaicin from Tabasco is also good to relieve pain and speed up the metabolism. The celery is a great source of antioxidants and the fact that what accompanies the Bloody Mary is usually a platter of vegetables makes it one of the healthier options of mixed drinks. However, the level of alcohol from the vodka and high sodium from the salt should be put into consideration too. You can go with the “Virgin Mary” option – which is basically just a glass of seasoned tomato juice with the alcohol opted out, but then it is not Russian anymore. Also, you can go easy on the amount of the salt added into the drink.

It is said that Bloody Mary is one of the women’s favorite around the world, most probably because of the lower calories content and anti-hangover formula in it that would keep them from getting headache and too drunk. However, it is always returned to the drinker themselves whether they would consider the Russian Bloody Mary as good for the health or not.

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