In very quick succession about a month ago were two of the biggest shows for liquor and liquor accessories in the biz: the Nightclub and Bar Show and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America Show. Aside from some of the trends you would expect, like a mostly-unremarkable selection of new vodkas and a continuation of the my love-hate relationship with white whiskey/moonshine (short story: they’re getting better), one of the biggest trends in some new players is Bloody Mary mixes. Love them or hate them, no one can deny that people are getting somewhat particular about their Bloody Mary.
Heck, some of the hippest restaurants about are touting a whole section of their specialty cocktail list devoted to the savory mix of tomato and spices. The lines are getting downright redrawn; this is no longer a breakfast drink for, shall we say, drinkers with an “outside-the-box” schedule. The inclusion of herb or meat-infused vodkas, switching the active ingredient for a gin or tequila, or even cutting the whole shebang down with a nice hoppy beer are all quickly encroaching the norm. Though I do not share the opinion that if it becomes something your ‘foodie’ mom orders, then it becomes uncool, but there is something to be said about over-saturation. I mean, I certainly don’t want to see the rich and hearty Bloody Mary go through what happened to Mojitos a while back, getting all mixed around with syrups and lemon-lime soda and more fruit than grocery store. Shudder the thought.
Hopefully we won’t see that. For the time being, the popularity of this drink has been in the hands of those more willing to get it right. Hopefully these crusading officiants of the watering-hole, “Bar-Tender” we’ll call them, will keep this train at full steam, carrying a full payload of vine-ripe tomato. Well let’s crack right into it, shall we?
McClure’s Pickles Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
This one is hailing from a couple of brothers, one living in Detroit, the other in Brooklyn. The company deals mainly in some really high-quality pickled cucumber, but they turn the spicy-style brine, pressed cucumber juice, and tomato into a surprising and very unique mix. Biggest thing about it is that you can quite clearly tell that some heavy duty pickle flavor is going on here. It remains pretty complex and as well balanced as pickle brine can be, but good golly this is most definitely pickle brine. I suppose that’s why they do not have a ‘normal’ variety, only spicy. I enjoyed it for it’s novelty but I couldn’t see myself drinking too much of this, lest my kidneys dry up from this salty concoction. I will be pickling some eggs with the rest, however, and I expect them to be amazing.
Jimmy Luv’s Bloody Mary Mix
“Shake the Bottle, Wake the Luv!” is the slogan of this enthused brand. Do be sure to shake, because this mixture stratifies if you take your eye off of it for a few days. Oh well, maybe they save on stabilizers and pass the savings on to you. On the whole, a pretty well rounded bloody mary. It’s got some tang to it, and just a hint of smoky flavor. A tad bit too much ‘vegetable’ to it, like maybe they got a bad shipment of tomato with more stems than they bargained for. It also comes in a style called “Sneaky Hot” that doesn’t fail to deliver on the promise. In fact, it tastes like the normal variety for a quick second there, but the jalapeno and habaneros quickly set to their dirty work. The spicy is good for any bloody mary, but I’d reserve the normal if you were trying to show off a homemade infused vodka. I’d recommend infusing some roasted garlic into a mid-tier bland vodka, something that’s been distilled a bit.
Dimitri’s Bloody Mary Seasoning
OK, so this one isn’t a Bloody Mary mix by the letter of the law, but you put a couple ounces in some tomato juice and you’ve got yourself a world class drink. I actually kind of prefer these because you can get your tomato juice in bulk; handy for a bloody party or if you’re running a bar. What’s double great about them is the fact that it also gives you variety. I can have a glass of ‘Extra Horseradish’, then an ‘Extra Peppers’, or just stick with the ‘Classic Recipe’, or really crank up the heat with their almost challenging ’Chipotle-
Habanero’. They all have about a dozen ingredients each, but boy howdy do they have a complex flavor. So good that, truth be told, I’ve been putting a few spoon fulls in my vegetable minestrone soup. Hell, I’d probably take them on flapjacks! Honestly, a just masterful blend. They also make a bacon salt glass rimmer that isn’t half bad either. Just remember to get a good tomato juice; “Garbage In, Garbage Out” as the computer whizzes say.