Every St. Regis Has Its Own Version of the Classic Red Snapper

The Red Snapper, a gin-based Bloody Mary, dates back to Prohibition. From Mallorca to Venice, St. Regis hotels around the world reimagine the classic cocktail.

Mardavall Red Snapper
Photo: Courtesy St. Regis Hotels & Resorts

For nearly 90 years, the cure-all after a long night of drinking has been the Bloody Mary: a hearty base of tomato juice, augmented with vodka and a carefully balanced mix of spices. The modern Bloody Mary as we know it was created in 1934 by Fernand Petiot, who served as head bartender at the St. Regis New York's King Cole Bar. There, Petiot refined other tomato juice-cocktail formulas that were popular around Prohibition and in the years following repeal — the oyster and tomato juice cocktails, both of which were non-alcoholic, and George Jessel's tomato juice and vodka with a dash of Pernod.

Jessel's simple recipe is considered to be the foundation upon which Petiot created his signature Bloody Mary. Within a year, Vincent Astor, the owner of the St. Regis New York Hotel and an avid fisherman, had Petiot rename the cocktail, fearing the name was too vulgar. And, thus, the Red Snapper was born. (By the 1960s, Bloody Mary mix became a commercial product, and Red Snapper began being referenced as a gin-based Bloody Mary. Today, the drink names are often used interchangeably.)

At the time of the Bloody Mary's genesis, the St. Regis Hotel was one of the most luxurious, influential hotels in the world. Newspapers took notice of what they were serving, as did other bars and restaurants in New York. So, the Bloody Mary became popularized on an international scale because of the hotel's clout. From that period onwards, the famous hangover remedy became an integral part of the brand's identity.

"In many ways the Bloody Mary is a part of the DNA of St. Regis," says George Fleck, vice president and global brand leader for St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. "After nearly 90 years, the iconic libation remains our signature cocktail – from New York to the Maldives to Rome." Each location boasts its own local take on the brunch cocktail, in addition to serving the classic.

Before opening any new hotel, the St. Regis works closely with the property's food and beverage team to create a destination-inspired reimagining of the Bloody Mary. "It is an amazing way for us to share a piece of the brand's history and tradition with our guests while also sharing something about the destination with them, whether that is a special ingredient that is indigenous to the location or a technique that speaks to the regional cuisine," says Fleck.

At the St. Regis Venice, the hotel serves the Santa Maria Bloody Mary, named after the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, located right in front of the hotel. The hotel sells around 1500 of them every year, in addition to 500 Red Snappers.

"The inspiration comes from a few different things," says Facundo Gallegos, director of bars and restaurants at The St. Regis Venice. "First of all, as our motto is to 'shake traditions' and to 'cultivate the vanguard,' I created a more innovative Bloody Mary that is made with clarified tomato juice — an ingredient never used before at St. Regis Hotels. Then I added a local ingredient, the grape, in two ways, via verjus (acidic juice from underripe grapes) and grappa, which is just sprayed on top." To finish, Gallegos' Santa Maria Bloody Mary is dosed with a horseradish-infused vodka for an added punch before being seasoned with some saline and a spicy tincture.

Just south of the Venetian location at the St. Regis Mardavall in Mallorca, the bar reinterpreted the Red Snapper to create a twist dubbed the Mardavall Pepper Snapper — a cocktail that the bar sells around 500 of each year.

This reinterpretation "looks to the flavors around Mallorca for inspiration, with the aim of honoring our local gastronomy and products," says Marco Iannelli, bar manager at the St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort. "We start by swapping with the vodka for a premium gin with fruity notes (currently Hendricks Gin), as we found it combines better with tomato juice and the crystallized Mallorcan sea salt from Ses Salines. Then, for the pepper component, we serve our classic-driven twist with small grilled padrón peppers, a local specialty." The bar also serves the original Red Snapper and three other versions of the classic in addition to their original take.

While the original will always have its draw, the St. Regis has built a legacy around twists on the classic cocktail. Some of the hotel's most loyal guests have even made a game of the bespoke Bloody Mary iterations. "We have guests that make it their mission to try as many of the recipes as they can during their travels – though I have yet to meet someone who has tried them all," Fleck says.

Mardavall Pepper Snapper

½ oz / 15 ml fresh lemon juice

4 oz / 120ml tomato juice

1 pinch black Flor de Sal crystal sea salt from Ses Salines

1 pinch black pepper

½ tsp / 2ml Tabasco sauce

½ tsp / 2ml Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ oz / 45ml premium gin

1 celery stalk, for garnish

1 cucumber spiral, for garnish

1 cherry tomato, for garnish

Padrón Peppers

Directions:

Mix the lemon juice and tomato juice, the sea salt crystals, the pepper and the Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces. Shake. Pour into a 350ml glass filled with ice and add the gin. Decorate with the celery stalk, the cucumber spiral and the cherry tomato. Serve with roasted Padrón peppers.

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