Harry's Bar, Paris, the legendary haunt of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Gershwin, Marlene Dietrich, Jean-Paul Sartre, Coco Chanel and Noel Coward is one hundred years old today. Many Happy Returns! Harry's New York Bar opened on November 24th 1911 at no. 5, Rue Daunou; and the decor has changed little since that day: it's currently lined with manly dark wooden panelling, painted shields displaying the coats of arms of famous English public schools, and American Ivy League pennants; all under a nicotine-stained embossed ceiling. It's still worth a visit if you happen to be in Paris, even if the style-gurus of the previous century have been replaced with American tourists.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Smoking, alas, is no longer allowed in Paris, and that particular 20th century ambiance has vanished presumably forever; however Harry's still serves its famous Bloody Marys- which is especially apt, as the cocktail was invented there in 1920 by Ferdinand Petiot, a barman from Ohio.
The "Bloody" apparently, comes from The Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago, and "Mary" after Petiot's daughter. The original drink was a simple mix of tomato juice and vodka, but Petiot expanded the recipe when he moved to the St Regis Hotel, New York. Here's the famous Greasy Spoon version:
Put some ice into a cocktail shaker. Pour in a decent slug of Stolichnaya vodka, and top the shaker up with a good quality tomato juice. Add a dash of Tio Pepe or otherwise dry sherry, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, celery salt, a few shakes of my favourite Tabasco and Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce.
Do the Hokey Cokey and shake it all about. Strain it off into a glass and add, if you must, a stick of celery. You'll find that the lemon juice smooths it out, and the sherry gives it an added kick.
Remember, as with so many other things in life, keep it simple, don't try and doll it up with extra ingredients (I'm not convinced by the addition of creamed horseradish, or chunky black pepper, although steeping a peeled horseradish root in your bottle of vodka, or subsituting Tabasco with a Horseradish flavoured Hot Pepper Sauce sounds like a good idea) and stay away from the gimmicks.
I don't like lumps of ice floating around in my Bloody Mary, and think it's much better if strained off. The cocktail's at its best if served very cold, so keep the vodka buried away in the 'fridge, as the Russians do. You'll find the vodka goes thick- and that, if I may make so bold Master Copperfield, is the way to keep vodka if you're going to drink it neat as an accompaniment to blinis and caviar.