Bloody Mary Fest: First Annual Competition Held In Highwood, IL

08/18/2010 03:13 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Bartenders, amateur mixologists, lovers of all things tomato, look out: the cocktail revolution is coming to a suburb near you.

The city of Highwood, along the North Shore, is hosting its First Annual Bloody Mary Fest, in which pros and dabblers alike can submit their version of the classic drink for a hefty trophy and even heftier bragging rights.

The competition will take place today from 3-8 p.m. at the weekly Evening Gourmet Farmer's Market. The $25 competition fee buys you entrance to the contest as well as a bottle of Say Yes! Vodka with which to make your concoction; any other ingredients are BYO.

Highwood Alderman Eric Falberg, the organizer of Bloody Mary Fest, encouraged participants to get creative with their preparations. "What started out as a simple drink made of vodka and tomato juice has evolved into a meal in itself with garnishes from celery sticks, pickles, olives, shrimp, pepperoni, pepperoncini, pickled asparagus, you name it--a salad in a glass with a kick."

He also pointed out that, according to legend at least, the Bloody Mary has its roots here in Chicago. Apparently, Fernand Petiot, a French bartender, was preparing drinks at Harry's New York Bar in Paris, a popular locale for American expats, in the early 1920s. When he served a tomato-juice-and-vodka cocktail to two young American men, they said it reminded them of a bartender named Mary at the Bucket of Blood bar in Chicago.

The name "Bloody Mary" stuck, and Petiot enhanced the recipe with the Tabasco sauce and lemon that are now staples of the drink.

If all this talk of delicious drinks is starting to sound good, head on down to Highwood. You don't even need to compete: just buy a commemorative glass and get all the free samples you want from restaurants with their own Bloody Marys on display.

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