While bars making their own syrups, bitters, tonics, etc. has become de rigeur in so many establishments, there’s still one drink for which many bartenders use a pre-made mix… the Bloody Mary.
Why buy it bottled when it’s really one of the easiest drinks to make? Chalk it up to consistency; that results in guest satisfaction as well as a cost savings on labor and ingredients. Seriously, why pay someone to come in a few hours early to prep the myriad ingredients needed for the Bloody Mary mix when the bartender on duty can just shake and open a well-chosen, pre-made mix, doctor it to house specs (and/or guest request,) roll it and present a fresh and tasty Bloody Mary every single time?
Of course there are as many styles of Bloody Mary mixes out there as there are opinions, coming to market with varying levels of heat, sweetness and tangines, and all with their own take on the “perfect” texture. For example, the Employee’s Only brand was created by the bar’s award winning bartending team to stand up to vodka.
Plenty of states have regionally inspired ones like those featuring Old Bay spices — a Mid-Atlantic delicacy — while the inclusion of bbq sauce and sourghum play a big role in a couple of south of the Mason Dixon line varieties. Some, like Ubon’s and Huntsman developed from the Southern traditions of hospitality before a barbecue competition and the fox hunt (respectively), while others hail from as far away as New Mexico and Texas.
One, Zing Zang, seems to be so universally loved and reliable that New Orleans bartender Nicholas Jarrett claims, “It’s solid enough that NO ONE in NOLA does a house mix. No one.”
When not mixing up Bloody Marys in NOLA, here’s what your friends are reaching for:
Ballast Point Bloody Mary Mix
Recommended by: Seth Marquez
Recommended by: Michael Trujillo
Recommended by: Caterina Miltenberger, Corporate Mixologist, Glazers Wholesale Distributor – “Demitris’ product line is extensive with different styles. Just add a high quality tomato juice like Sacramento brand. Yum!”
Recommended by: Dushan Zaric, Jason Kosmas, and Steve Schneider-Hadzismajlovic of Employees Only; Jennifer Corrao of Fernet Branca; Stephen Schuler of Gotham Artisanal; Micaela Piccolo of Distilled NY; Chris Patino of Pernod Ricard; Sam Meyer of CNN; Fredo Ceraso of Loungerati who says “I use EO brands. “Consistent and damn good!”; and Gabi Porter, Food & Drink Journalist/Photographer
Fat & Juicy
Recommended by author, Warren Bobrow; James R. Patterson, Executive Chef at Sedgefield Country Club/A McConnell Golf Property says, “Try ‘Fat and Juicey’ out of Charleston, South Carolina.”
Recommended by Adam Bernbach of DC’s 2 Birds 1 Stone/Proof/Estadio
H & F Bottle Shop
Recommended by Food & Lifestyle Expert Chadwick Boyd, “Excellent. What I love about H & F Bloody Mary Mix is its homemade feel and real taste.”
Recommended by Bartender Tiffany Soles, “Hoosier Mama’s spicy mix is also pretty delicious!”; Martin Duffy, Co-producer Chicago Independent Spirits Expo notes, “Great spice & body.”
Recommended by Allison Evanow, creator Square One Organic Spirits, “Huntsman Premium Bloody Mary mix is made in Virginia by friends who have been making it in the heart of Deep Run Hunt Country for years. So many friends wanted the recipe, they decided to turn it into a business. Not a Bloody Mary fan, but I LOVE this one!”
Jack and Bernie’s
Recommended by Chad Larson of Minneapolis’s Marin Restaurant and Bar who orders it for his own home consumption.
Recommended by: Ian Law; Josephine Son, Sam Meyer of CNN, and Gabi Porter, Food & Drink Photographer/Journalist, “If you’re not making it yourself either McClure’s or EO!”
Nantucket Natural Blends Bloody Mix
Recommended by Corey Bunnewith, Co-founder & Proprietor, Boston Harbor Distillery who insists, “Nantucket Bloody Mix. By far.”
Natural Blonde Bloody Mary Mix
Recommended by: Anthony DeSerio; Jill DeGroff, fine artist and cocktail industry chronicler, “Of course you must know John Aquino and the all natural Blonde Bloody Mary mix he has produced down in Charleston, “SC.”
Powell & Mahoney
Recommended by: Nomad Hotel Bartender and Bon Vivant Dominic Venegas, “Powell & Mahoney make a damn fine mix.”
Preservation & Co.
Recommended by Jennifer Colliau of The Interval at Long Now, “Hands down the best I’ve tried!”
Recommended by John Badalati, NY-Mid-Atlantic Manager, Ripe Bar Juice who points out that his favorite brand is available at Whole Foods and Jeff Nelson, volunteer at Coventry, CT Regional Farmer’s Market where, “Ripe is available every Sunday.”
Recommended by Linda Duke of Duke Marketing.
Recommended by LA based mixologist for hire, Matthew Biancaniello; Karen Hoskin of Montanya Distillers who shares, “Stirrings is good and fairly widely available.”
Toigo Farms’ Birth of Pain Bloody Mary Mix
Recommended by food/drink/lifestyle writer Robert Haynes-Peterson who comments, “I’m a big fan of Toigo Farms (PA) Birth of Pain Bloody Mary Mix, particularly when using The Bay vodka (also from PA). Quite spicy though – might not appeal to a NYer’s palate.”
Tres Agave Bloody Maria Mix
Recommended by Stephen Schuler of Gotham Artisanal.
Recommended by: David Rosen of Ubon’s; Gennario Pecchia (who prefers the hot & spicy version); Frank Caiafa of the Waldorf Astoria who remarks, “We make our own, but Ubon’s works.”; and Dan Soloway, President of Kitchen Options who implores us to get with the program as he notes, “Ubons, come on now!”
Willie’s Hog Dust
Recommended by James R. Patterson.
Recommended by so many! Including: Keith Salwoski, “My favorite.”; Bartender Karin Stanley; Chris Patino, Tiffany Soles, “Zing Zang is awesome!!!”; Clark Nesselrodt of HyperGame Group; Don Q’s John Eason; Rob Patry “Zing Zang for sure!”; Plaza Hotel’s James Menite; The Connected Table’s David Ransom confirms, “James Menite is right. Zing Zang rules.”; and Brand Ambassador Daniel De Oliveira who simply agreed with his fellow f&b colleages with a, “yup.”