Vincent Price’s Bloody Mary & Bookbinder’s Snapper Soup

The first time I ever connected Vincent Price and food was when I discovered this little slip of paper tucked within the pages of my copy of The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930)

Vincent Price Bloody Mary

I thought it was delightfully odd. But I never thought anything of it and just put it back into the book.

Well, then I discovered Silver Screen Suppers and the Vincentennial Cookblog and learned of Mr. Price’s life outside of Hollywood–as an extremely influential gourmand and cookbook author!

treasuryNow here I am celebrating, with a whole slew of folks from around the globe, the 50th anniversary of the Treasury of Great Recipes by Vincent and Mary Price!

I am lucky enough to own an original 1965 copy of the Treasury (thanks to the Christmas that my mum discovered ebay), so when I was invited to join in on this cookalong, I was ready.

First off, I made Vincent’s Bloody Mary, which appears on page 416 of my edition.

We like to serve our Bloody Marys before lunch, especially in the summer when my Mary and our sun-loving firends melt around the swimming pool. I retire with my drink to the fern garden where the cool greens make a lovely background for the orange-red Bloody Mary, and I can sip it while contemplating a new fern frond unfurling (Try saying that after one of these!)

The recipe in the Treasury is exactly what was scrawled onto the pink paper above. Vincent does note at the end of the recipe: Our Bloody Marys are hot and sweet-sour and they show their fist!

Vincent Price Bloody Mary

Please note Velvet Elvis peeking around the corner

Vincent wasn’t lying about the Bloody Marys being sweet-sour. I know that I’ve never made a Bloody Mary with sugar before. And they do “show their fist” since it’s 6 jiggers of vodka for 4 cocktails. Hot? Not so much. There was no indication of what the garnish should be, so I went with celery, olives, and lemon.

The sweet-sour flavor may be appealing to others, but it didn’t do it for me. I ended up throwing in a ton of horseradish and Old Bay.

Of course.

Now! Let’s go onto the main event!

It should be noted that the cookbook truly is a Treasury of Great Recipes because all of the recipes are from famous restaurants, both in America and abroad. Sadly, a lot of the establishments are no more, like the Old Original Bookbinder’s in Philadelphia, which shut its doors in 2009 (although they did re-open-ish this year as The Olde Bar, which looks fabulous).


The 1964 menu. Click on it for an enlarged version

I never had the chance to dine at the original Bookbinders but I chose Bookbinder’s Snapper Soup because in the early aughts, my brother and I lived right down the street from their Richmond, VA location–which is still open!

Our favorite thing on the menu was the Snapper Soup. Every once in a while as a treat we’d go eat in the bar and for dinner just have this soup and a salad.


Photo from The Treasury

In Vincent’s words:

The dish for which Old Original Bookbinder’s is most famous is their Snapper Soup, made from five-pound snapping turtles. These creatures are not the most commonplace things to find in a market, but with persistence you can sometimes line up a fish store that can get one for you. If not, you can make a sort of “mock snapper” soup using a red snapper….With either the mock or the authentic snapper soup, the snapper is that you serve a beaker of sherry with the soup, and each person laces his own portion with the wine.

The beaker of sherry is indeed the snapper. It may be the best part of the soup. But anyhoo…

snapper soup recipe

Well, we (and by we I mean me and my mum) sure as hell were not going to find a 5 pound frozen snapping turtle, but they did have giant vacuum sealed bags of the meat at Wholey’s (a fantastic fish market in Pittsburgh).

So we boiled the snapper meat, per Vincent’s instructions.

thanksgiving dishes 001

Lemme tell ya, snapping turtle meat is kinda gross. Not only does it not look appetizing, the stench is bad. And strong.  The best way I can describe it is gamey seafood. It had to boil for over an hour. So the house smelled of gamey seafood. Just let that marinate in your brain for a bit.

Anyway, we made the stock.
thanksgiving dishes 003

Strained it and thickened it. thanksgiving dishes 004

Chopped the turtle meat (which no longer reeked as it did earlier)thanksgiving dishes 005

and mixed it into the soup with the hard boiled eggs, lemon, and sherry

Soup’s on! thanksgiving dishes 008

Does it look like Vincent’s???

The results: the consistency was great. And the sherry is KEY. The little carafe of sherry that gets passed around with the soup is kinda fancy. And delicious. And it makes all the difference.

This version was much more lemony than I remember it being at the place in Richmond, but overall this gets two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Weird coincidence! Yesterday I was looking in my BH&G Fish and Seafood Cook Book (1971) and found this!

BH&G snapper BH&G snapper soup1 BH&G snapper soup2

Interesting variation. Veal knuckle? But who knew that Bookbinder’s Snapper Soup was so famous?

Oh. They can the shit.

canned bookbinder soup

It IS that famous.

Although I can tell you that, according to my bro, the canned shit really is shit.

treasurycookalongThanks Vincent! I can’t wait to make more recipes from the Treasury—maybe next time I’ll try a restaurant from outside the USA.

Gentle readers, feel free to go take a gander at the two other VP recipes I’ve featured on Dinner is Served 1972:

Vincent Price’s Beef Heart Stewed

Melton Mowbray Pie

And check out all of these Vincent-related websites:

Vincent Price Treasury Cookalong with Silver Screen Suppers

Cooking With Vincent Website – celebratory events in the USA

Vincent Price Legacy Tour – for details of celebratory events in the UK

Amazon Page for the 50th Edition of A Treasury of Great Recipes

Treasury of Great Recipes Facebook page

Silver Screen Suppers Facebook page

If you tweet, the hashtag for the Cookalong is #TreasuryCookalong – the official Vincent Price twitter handle is @masterofmenace and Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers is @silverscreensup and, of course, follow me! @YINZERELLA


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9 Responses to Vincent Price’s Bloody Mary & Bookbinder’s Snapper Soup

  1. Conor Bofin says:

    I loved him in Theatre of Blood. If you haven’t seen it, it is a treat in store. The late, great Robert Morley comes in for a particularly evil and gastronomic demise. Well worth a look, if the PC lot haven’t edited it beyond belief.

  2. tarynnicole says:

    I am constantly in awe of your willingness to go the places I would fear to tread. I would have given up at the smell. Or more likely the shops when I realised the snapper being referred to was not the fish. I’m so glad it was worth the effort!!! xx

  3. Wow. Wow. Wow. I absolutely love this. I actually grew up in Philadelphia and never went to Bookbinders, and considered yesterday making something from that section of the book. I’m so glad YOU did. You know what I miss living here in the uk? Those oyster crackers that were big hard round balls. They would have gone very nicely in your beautiful soup.

  4. Cheryl Wingate says:

    When I was a teenager or in my early twenties, my mom actually gave me this cookbook for my birthday one year. I had seen it in the library and had to have my own copy because it was so darned fancy! the gold lettering, the padded cover! I don’t think I ever cooked from it, but it’s still on my bookshelf, waiting! Incidentally, I was lucky enough to have Bookbinder’s snapper soup in Philadelphia while on a business trip in the early nineties. Can’t remember if it was all that special or anything, but it was definitely a cool place to visit, and it was one of the highlights of the trip–in addition to staying at the Hotel Atop the Bellevue, which I believe was the site of the Legionnaire’s Disease scare years earlier. Your post today has dredged up all sorts of memories! 🙂

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  6. A. R. says:

    I loved reading this! BTW, veal was a common substitution for turtle back when turtle soup was a more popular thing. The “Mock Turtle” in Alice In Wonderland is a joke creature with the body of a turtle and the head of a calf.

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