Everyone has heard of the Bloody Mary—but only New Yorkers know the Red Snapper. The two are really one and the same, but the story goes something like this: In 1934, a well-to-do Russian named Serge Obolensky asked Fernand Petiot, the barman at the St. Regis New York (212-753-4500), to recreate a vodka and tomato juice cocktail Petiot had invented in Paris.
Petiot, who was employed at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris when he first dreamed up the recipe, responded with a concoction he christened Red Snapper (recipe below). Others jumped on that cocktail bandwagon, renaming the drink Bloody Mary, but the St. Regis—always an original—held fast to the name, which not only has survived to this day but also celebrates 80 years this month.
In a celebration that goes beyond New York, St. Regis patrons nationwide can enjoy a Red Snapper, or some version of it, throughout October. And the King Cole Bar & Salon, now overseen by Chef John DeLucie, will offer a special anniversary menu with recipes from beloved city restaurants like The Lion, The Dutch, Tipsy Parson, Crown and Fat Radish.
It’s a good time to celebrate. The King Cole recently underwent an extensive renovation, transforming into a lounge concept where classic libations are offered alongside an inspired menu. The iconic Old King Cole mural, painted by Maxfield Parrish in 1906, has also been restored so it can be revered by new generations of New Yorkers.
The bar at the King Cole Bar & Salon.
The salon, located off the hotel’s lobby, features an open fireplace and intimate seating. The classic architectural details—marble columns, gilded millwork, dentil moldings—are now infused with a modern flair: Think uptown meets downtown. DeLucie’s menu reflects this concept. Dishes like wild smoked salmon with a crust made from an “everything” bagel are decidedly New York, while others—grilled lamb merguez with roasted grapes, for example—have a global vibe.
The King Cole Bar & Salon lounge.
One thing that hasn’t changed is “the secret.” Look closely at the Old King Cole mural, and you may just guess the famous mystery. A caveat: It may take a Red Snapper or two to get into the right frame of mind.
The Red Snapper
- 1 oz. of vodka
- 2 oz. of tomato juice (The St. Regis uses Sacramento tomato juice.)
- 1 dash of lemon juice
- 2 dashes of salt
- 2 dashes of black pepper
- 2 dashes of cayenne pepper
- 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- Add the salt, peppers, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice to a shaker glass.
- Add ice, vodka and tomato juice. Shake, pour into a highball glass, garnish, and serve.