The King Cole Bar is not shy when it comes to advertising its notable history. Located at the St Regis Hotel, the bar enthusiastically advertises that many important events occurred there including the 1934 creation of the Bloody Mary cocktail, which was originally known as the Red Snapper. In addition to being the birthplace of the Bloody Mary, the bar is also well known for its namesake Old King Cole mural painted by illustrator Maxfield Parrish.
According to mixology lore, in 1934 the Russian Prince Serge Obolensky ordered a Bloody Mary at the King Cole Bar but requested that bartender Fernand Petiot spice up the drink a little. Petiot decided that tabasco sauce (or salt, lemon peper, and Worcestershire Sauce depending on the story) would do the trick. This spiced up version of the drink was a big hit and quickly became a cocktail favorite.
Petiot’s new creation was called a Red Snapper. The drink’s previous name, Bloody Mary, was dropped because it was deemed too vulgar for a bar located in one of the City’s most elegant hotels. This change never really took hold and even the elegant King Cole Bar reverted back to using the drink’s original name.
In addition to the King Cole Bar, Harry’s New York Bar also claims to be the birthplace of the Bloody Mary. Harry’s New York Bar, originally located in New York City, was dismantled and then rebuilt in Paris in 1911. There, it became a hangout for American expatriates including Ernest Hemingway. In 1921, Harry’s bartender, Fernand Petiot, the same bartender who would later work at the King Cole Bar, invented the Bloody Mary for the first time. This incarnation of the drink likely consisted of only tomato juice and vodka. The origin of the original Bloody Mary is extremely murky because it is also alleged that George Jessel created the drink at Harry’s New York Bar in 1939, which Petiot confirmed in a 1964 interview with The New Yorker, even though he had been credited with inventing the drink a decade earlier.
Whether you believe that the Bloody Mary was created by a French bartender in Paris, an American actor in Paris, or even a French bartender in New York with the help of a Russian Prince, Harry’s New York Bar and the King Cole Bar are both worth the trip.
King Cole Bar (located in the St. Regis Hotel)
2 East 55th Street New York, New York
Harry’s New York Bar
5 Rue Daunou Paris, France
Whose Bloody Mary do you prefer?