In very quick succession a couple of months ago, Vegas hosted 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, a never-ending selection of new vodkas and white whiskey/moonshine (short story: I have a love-hate relationship with white whiskey, but they are getting better), one of the biggest trends was a number of new entrants in the Bloody Mary mix category. Love them or hate them, no one can deny that people are getting picky about their Bloody Marys.
In Vegas, some of the hippest restaurants devote a sizable portion of their specialty cocktail list to the savory mix of tomato and spices. The lines are being redrawn; this is no longer a breakfast drink. It’s now for, shall we say, drinkers with an “outside-the-box” schedule too. Bloody Marys have been shaken to their core. Popular ingredients now include herb and meat-infused vodkas, swapping vodka for gin or tequila, or even cutting the whole shebang down with a nice hoppy beer. Let’s hope that Bloody Marys don’t go the way of the Mojito, getting all mixed around with syrups and lemon-lime soda and more fruit than grocery store. Shudder the thought.
For now, the popularity of the Bloody Mary has remained in the hands of folks who have been getting it right. Hopefully these crusading officiants of the watering-hole, “Bar-Tenders” as we’ll call them, will keep this train at full steam, carrying a payload of vine-ripe tomato. To keep this tradition alive at home, let’s examine some of the more interesting Bloody Mary mixes, shall we?
McClure’s Pickles Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
This mix hails from two brothers, one in Detroit and the other in Brooklyn. The company deals in high-quality pickled cucumbers, but turn the spicy brine, which is a mix of pressed cucumber juice and tomato, into a surprising and very unique Bloody Mary mix. You can clearly tell that some heavy duty pickling is going. The mix is complex and balanced but heavy on the pickle brine, not surprising that its base is, in fact, pickle brine. My guess is the pickle brine base is the reason that they only have a spicy variety. There is no “normal” variety. I enjoyed the novelty, but I couldn’t see myself drinking this every weekend, lest my kidneys dry up from this salty concoction. I am moving beyond the Bloody Mary and using the remainder of the mix to pickle some eggs, which I imagine will 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 after a few days, this mixture separates. Maybe they save on stabilizers and pass the savings to the consumer. On the whole, Jimmy Luv’s is well rounded Bloody Mary mix. It’s got some tang and a hint of smoke. For my taste, it has a tad too much “vegetable”. It’s almost like Jimmy got a bad batch of tomato with too much stem and ground the whole tomato, stem and all, into the tomato juice. Jimmy Luv’s also comes in “Sneaky Hot,” which delivers on its promise. It fools you into thinking its the “normal” variety until the jalapeno and habaneros do their dirty work. The spice make a good Bloody Mary, but I would use the “normal” when showing off a homemade infused vodka. Love up that Jimmy Luv’s with roasted garlic infused vodka!
Dimitri’s Bloody Mary Seasoning
This one isn’t a Bloody Mary mix by the letter of the law, but add a couple ounces of tomato juice and vodka and you’ve got yourself a world class Bloody Mary. I prefer seasoning to the prepared mix – tomato juice is easily available. The seasonings with your favorite juice are handy for a Bloody Mary party or running a bar. Even better is the variety that seasonings provide. 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”. Each of these seasonings have a dozen or so ingredients and complex flavor. These seasonings are so good that I’ve been putting a few spoon fulls in my vegetable minestrone soup. Hell, I’d probably take them on flapjacks! Honestly, masterful blends. Dimitri’s also makes a bacon salt glass rim that isn’t half bad. Just remember to get good tomato juice!
Photo courtesy of theelegantdrunk.com