Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, was the only daughter of the infamous Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Crowned on Oct 1, 1553, she is known for her attempts to reverse the English Reformation and went on to earn the nickname “Bloody Mary” after she had more than 280 religious dissenters burnt at the stake. Thankfully, her namesake cocktail has far less gruesome origins.
While there are numerous tales that claim the creation behind the Bloody Mary, the most popular story begins in the 1920s at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Bartender Fernand “Pete” Petiot concocted a new cocktail with vodka, because of the increase in the number of Russian immigrants, and tomato juice, as American canned tomato juice made its debut in France. He later brought his creation to the King Cole Bar at the St Regis Hotel, New York. The drink was originally christened Bloody Mary, which was considered a racy name for the time, so the hotel changed it to the Red Snapper to not cause a stir.
Today, a classic Bloody Mary is often the go-to hair of the dog and feels more akin to a hearty meal than a regular drink, especially because of the somewhat healthy ingredients. These features also make it the ideal brunch companion, serving as a more wholesome alternative to bubbly and a fun replacement for tea or coffee.
To sample a delicious Bloody Mary, check out one of these bars and restaurants.
If you are looking for a classic Bloody Mary, look no further than Tujo at Ascott KL. A mix of vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, tabasco sauce, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and salt, it is garnished with a celery stick and lemon wedge. This concoction allows the tomato juice to shine with the hint of spice that tickles the back of your throat.
While we sampled Tujo’s cocktails, we also munched on some pizza — you cannot go wrong with their simple and delicious Margherita — and sampled their vegetable pakora, which makes for a perfect bar bite.
In the heart of downtown KL with plenty of people-watching to keep you entertained, Tujo is a great location for when you need time-out alone or with your best friends. Order a good meal but make its accompaniment a refreshing Bloody Mary for a change.
Ascott Kuala Lumpur, 9 Jalan Pinang. Daily, noon to midnight. Call 012 210 3055 for reservations.
Hidden behind the modern and sophisticated Sushi Ryu restaurant, the intimate space of Bar Shake is dimly lit, except for the beautiful bar with a solid wood top that dominates the right side of the space. We make ourselves comfortable at the bar and order what we think will be a thick, red drink. The Clear Bloody Mary that we are served is an absolute marvel.
This clarified cocktail is made by cooking the tomato juice along with sugar, chilli, basil and other ingredients, before straining it through a coffee filter to produce a clear liquid.
This drink is served with an egg-like smashed tomato, a salted rim and a fragrant leaf of basil. Despite its clear appearance, it tastes like a hearty broth. It is savoury yet alcoholic, which makes it quite an unusual offering. The addition of basil really lifts the flavours, making it fresh and light.
Platinum Park, Unit 3.3A, Level 2, Tower 1, 11 Persiaran KLCC. Mon-Fri, 4pm-noon; Sat-Sun, 6pm-2am. Call 03 2181 1531 for reservations.
As each St Regis hotel all over the world has its own unique recipe for a Bloody Mary, it would be remiss to leave out the Astor Bar’s version. The Asam Boi Mary is St Regis Kuala Lumpur’s locally inspired cocktail, which includes calamansi, Sarawakian black pepper, asam boi powder, chili padi, tomato juice, V8 juice, tabasco sauce, paprika and, their secret ingredient, asam boi infused vodka. It is a spicy concoction, balanced by the sweet-and-sour calamansi juice as well as the tart sour plum. It is also incredibly filling and satisfying.
This truly Malaysian creation comes complete with asam boi on the rim of the glass. If you give enough notice, the helpful bartenders would be able to organise a little class to make your own Asam Boi Mary and, from experience, I can tell you it is a lot of fun. You can also order an Asam Boi Mary cocktail kit to make it at home.
Level 2, The St Regis Kuala Lumpur, 6 Jalan Stesen Sentral 2, KL Sentral. Daily, 5pm-1am. Call 03 2727 6680 for reservations.
The spacious Antipodean Café, is decorated with dark wood furniture, chili red walls, and spanning the right wall is their complete menu written in chalk. Overall, the café has quite a family friendly vibe, great for couples or little groups.
If you are a fan of a hearty brunch as your hangover cure, then Antipodean’s scrumptious fare will put a smile on your face. Choose between their tasty sweet corn fritter with bacon, bacon and maple French toast and their many breakfast classics such as the Eggs Benedict.
The Bloody Mary at Antipodean is not for the faint of heart, as their concoction packs quite a spicy punch. They use spiced tomato juice, tabasco sauce, vodka, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce and a stick of celery — all the typical ingredients you would expect. But the surprising kick of heat is certainly packs a spicy punch, making it a great way to wake you up on bleary weekend mornings.
20 Jalan Telawi 2, Bangsar, KL. Daily, 7am-5pm. Call 03 2282 0411 for reservations.
IF YOU'RE VENTURING OUTSIDE OF KL...
Those looking to enjoy a classic cocktail with a twist while holidaying in Penang need look no further than Farquhar’s Bar at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. It is the ideal space to either wind down for the day or to kick start a fun night out.
Their Bloody Maria replaces vodka with Gran Centenario Reposado tequila and includes red wine, sherry, fresh tomato juice, lemon juice, jalapeño brine, chipotle sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, pepper and salt. Not only does it have these unusual ingredients, but the Bloody Maria also has freshly flamed tomatoes added and is garnished with a dried chilli.
In terms of taste, this cocktail certainly has a bite to it, especially with its spice-forward flavour. The brine adds tartness, balanced with sweetness from the wine and sherry. Overall, it is a unique rendition of a Bloody Mary.
Eastern & Oriental Hotel, 10 Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, Penang. Wed-Sat, 5pm-midnight. Call 04 222 2000 for reservations.
This article first appeared on Sept 21, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.