Tomato juice and spices are great for masking poorly made hooch
So how do we get from Bloody Marys to brunch? Farha Ternikar, author of Brunch: A History, makes this key point: "Brunch history is also intertwined with the history of cocktails." And although brunch itself is a term coined in 1895, strangely enough, it seems that the boozy brunch really kicked off during the purportedly dry Prohibition years.
"Though Prohibition affected many, the elite were largely unscathed because of private clubs, home bars, and underground methods of transporting and selling alcohol," Ternikar explains. Mixing helped disguise crappy booze; tomato juice and spices were especially effective. (So is orange juice, but remember, it was still a bit harder to come by in the 1920s unless you were squeezing it yourself.)
Of course, the same wealthy elites who might have sampled Petiot's Bloody Mary at Harry's Bar in Paris may have tried to emulate it at home or at the speakeasy.
Meanwhile, Ternikar notes, brunch -- whether served at home or in a restaurant -- had evolved into a leisurely, decadent meal that often revolved around rich dishes. For elites, this might also include mixed drinks that usually featured vodka or Champagne.
"Brunch, a meal that allowed these indulgences, quietly adopted mixed drinks and cocktails," Ternikar continues. "Citrus juices had already been popularized as a breakfast tradition, so juice-based cocktails were a natural outcome of the combination of Prohibition and brunching, especially with the popular idea that 'the hair of the dog that bit you' was the best cure for a hangover."
After Prohibition ended, restaurants started serving these profitable drinks, though it would take a couple of decades for the middle class to shrug off the stigma of day drinking and join in the fun. Bloodies (and other booze) at brunch ramped up in the 1950s, peaking in the decadent 1970s.