"It's a very complicated drink," said Neil C. Da Costa, a expert on the chemical analysis of flavors at International Flavors and Fragrances Inc.
"The Bloody Mary has been called the world's most complex cocktail, and from the standpoint of flavor chemistry, you've got a blend of hundreds of flavor compounds that act on the taste senses. It covers almost the entire range of human taste sensations -- sweet, salty, sour and umami or savory -- but not bitter."
Da Costa said those flavors originate in the basic ingredients in the traditional Bloody Mary, which by one account originated in a Paris bar in the 1930's. Stories link the name to various historical figures, especially Queen Mary I of England, noted for her bloody repression of religious dissenters.
The ingredients include tomato juice, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce, fresh lemon or lime juice, horseradish, black pepper and celery salt. Shaken with ice or served over ice, it is often garnished with celery and a lemon wedge.
"Most of the ingredients have been analyzed for their key flavor volatiles, the chemicals that can evaporate from the glass and produce the aroma," Da Costa explained.
"Similarly for the non-volatiles, which are the chemicals that stay in the liquid and contribute toward the flavor there. My presentation reviews the composition of these ingredients and highlights the key components and their sensory attributes."
Some of the ingredients have been linked with beneficial health effects, Da Costa, noted, citing the rich source of lycopene, for instance, in the tomato juice; horseradish with its allyl isothiocyanate, which can be effective at lower concentrations; other phytochemicals in lemon; and even the alcohol in vodka, which some studies suggest can be beneficial when taken occasionally in small amounts.
The report has been presented at the 241st National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), being held in Washington this week.
From the March 31, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News