By David Bernard
Last month, as the St. Regis New York Hotel was busy celebrating the 80th anniversary of the U.S. debut of the bloody mary in the hotel’s King Cole Bar, a bartender at Todd English P.U.B. in Las Vegas was busy adding a skewer of corn dog pup and crispy chicken wing to a $35 bloody mary already stacked with a slider, chilled shrimp and pickled asparagus, among other garnishes. Still popular decades after its creation and continuously reinterpreted, bartender Fernand Petiot would no doubt be pleased with the legacy of the perennial cocktail classic he first mixed in Paris in 1921 before serving it at the St. Regis in 1934.
Capitalizing on consumer hunger, a thirst for spice and the growing desire for healthy ingredients, retailers of all things bloody mary, including mixes, seasoning blends and rimmers, are finding a wealth of products to choose from and a strong market to which to sell.Some retailers and producers describe two distinct markets for bloody marys. Jerry Ciesielski, Fine Foods Buyer for Premier Gourmet in Buffalo, New York, noted that a lot of the store’s older customers “stick with what they know,” buying mixes that are more representative of the classic bloody mary recipe. “For the younger customers coming in, it’s all about spicy hot,” he said.
Of the 16 brands of mixes sold in Ciesielski’s store, Tabasco Extra Spicy has become the second best-seller – up from fourth place. Tabasco Extra Spicy is followed by another spicy offering, the horseradish-flavored Mr & Mrs T Premium Blend. The top-seller at the store, as well as one of the leaders nationwide, is the medium-hot Zing Zang.Ciesielski said that customer requests, along with the trend toward spicy across many food categories, spurred the store’s move toward spicier offerings. “I’m looking for more and varied spicy mixes,” he said.
The good news for retailers like Ciesielski is that there is certainly no shortage of spicy bloody mary mixes on the market today from which to choose. The Murph’s Famous Bloody Mary Mix, based in Long Island, New York, already had a successful, more traditional mix sold in 26 states when it decided to add a spicy version a year ago. “The response has been amazing,” said Stephen Murphy, CEO of The Murph’s Famous Bloody Mary Mix. The new mix includes cayenne, horseradish and black pepper. “When we did production runs initially, we thought it out and made 70 percent of the original mix and 30 percent hot and spicy. Within six months, it was 50-50. And now we’re 60-40 hot and spicy.”
Murphy got the idea for The Murph’s Hot & Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, which recently won a Chile Pepper Magazine award for Best Bloody Mary Mix, after attending a number of hot sauce trade shows. As a sponsor himself of the New York City Hot Sauce Expo, which doubled its attendance to more than 10,000 this year, Murphy has observed firsthand the trend toward spicy. “I have really seen, particularly among 21-35 year olds, that it’s all about hot sauce and different flavors of hot foods and sauces,” he said.
One of the country’s top bloody mary seasoning producers, Demitri’s of Seattle, Washington, happened upon its spiciest flavor, chipotle-habanero, quite by accident. According to founder Demitri Pallis, the company, which has won 25 Scovie Awards since 2012, created the extra-hot variety as a “marketing stunt” for the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Show Convention in Las Vegas. “We kind of told the joke on ourselves,” said Pallis. “The response came back so well that, while we didn’t intend to actually put a label on it, we decided to go ahead and add it to our lineup.” While the chipotle-habanero blend is too hot for most bars to stock as their house mix, it does very well on the retail shelf, just as has done another of Demitri’s spicy offerings, Chilies and Peppers, which has increased in popularity in recent years.
While some retailers stick to a two-fold offering of more traditional mixes in addition to hot and peppery options, producers today are stepping up with unique flavors as well. Jason Poole, Brine Boss at Preservation & co. in Sacramento, California, recently turned a Dijon mustard-caper-balsamic-pickling-brine recipe he perfected as a bartender into a successful product sold in 150 California locations. (Expansion to surrounding states is in the works.) Developed for entry into the national Absolut Vodka Bloody Mary Search contest, in which it took second place, the viscous mix also contains sriracha.
“The thing that would really frustrate me about bloody marys as a bartender was that people would drink about three-fourths of their drink and wouldn’t finish it, because, by the end, it would be too diluted and it wouldn’t have the flavor it began with,” said Poole. “Our goal was to create a drink where they could actually enjoy the whole thing.” By making the mix thick and adding heat with sriracha, Poole created a buffer against the dilution that comes from adding ice and vodka, ultimately preserving the mix’s briny/tangy and sweet tones.
Preservation & co., which produces a variety of pickled and other vegetable products and seasonings, also offers a sriracha salt bloody mary rimmer. Spicy rimmers like this one have risen in popularity alongside spicy mixes. Bacon-flavored rimmers are also trending.
Just a year old, Austin, Texas-based Bloody Revolution, has taken variety to a new level, recently expanding its reach to over 600 locations, including gourmet shops and major retailers, like one of the largest grocers in the state, HEB. The company offers five mixes, with the unique twist that none of the four “variation” flavors are based on the company’s original recipe. The company’s four co-founders started Bloody Revolution to fill what it saw as a gap in the marketplace, crafting unique flavors like wasabi ginger, ribeye, pickle zing and smoked habanero.
“We had the idea to do something totally different from what we’d ever seen,” said Chantz Hoover, Managing Partner of Bloody Revolution. “We decided to mix things up.” While the company’s more unique flavors have proven a hit among adventurous cocktail enthusiasts, Bloody Revolution’s standby original and smoked habanero offerings serve as a point of entry for bloody mary beginners. “Customers will try the original or the smoked habanero first,” Hoover said. “Retailers are telling us that they come back and say, ‘Hey, that was awesome, I’m ready to try one of these other flavors now.’”
Bloody Revolution’s offerings fit perfectly with another bloody mary trend: the bloody mary “bar within a bar” concept. Restaurants and bars across the country are setting up a bloody mary carts or mini-bars where customers can choose their own garnishes, extra spices and rimmers. While establishments typically offer only one or two mixes at the “front” of the cart, Bloody Revolution clients have found success when they choose to offer all five of the company’s mixes. The renowned Austin hotel, The Driskill, whose popular Saturday Bloody Mary bar had featured two housemade original mixes for 30 to 40 years, recently added three Bloody Revolution mixes, with impressive results.
“Their beverage director said, ‘This is going to take our bloody mary bar to another level,’” said Hoover. “And now, six months later, it’s gone really well for them. They’ve given us great feedback.” The company’s mixes have performed similarly well at other clients’ bloody mary bars.
The growing preference among consumers for natural and healthy products is also driving today’s bloody mary market. While the drink uses vodka or another type of alcohol, it also contains a healthy dose of tomato juice and often cayenne and other beneficial spices.
“I find that a lot of our customers are vegetarians,” said Mel Gonzalez, COO of Backyard Mary, a Huntington Beach, California company whose medium heat mix is sold in four western states. “They look at it as a liquid salad, basically as a meal in a drink.” Backyard Mary Bloody Mary Mixer, which carries just enough heat derived from horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and peppers, gives the drinker a light kick, yet it is still bright and flavorful. The mixer was a Platinum Best of Class winner at the Spirit International Prestige Awards.
Of course, some bloody marys are not so healthy, and consumers can thank the blogosphere in part for that. Spurred on in a “can-you-top-this” fashion, some restaurants, bloody mary bloggers and individual consumers are carving out a spot at the bar (or on the internet) by posting outrageous pictures of lavishly garnished bloody marys. A bacon cheeseburger, King Crab claw, and chicken and waffles are just a few of the indulgent garnishes that demonstrate how the bloody mary can serve as a “meal in a glass.”
While possibly alarming some fans of the classic recipe, elaborate versions of this classic cocktail may be contributing to an overall boost in the category. “I’d say the Bloody Mary is getting more popular,” said Shelley Buchanan, author of “The Drunken Tomato: A Definitive Guide to the Best Bloody Marys in Los Angeles and Orange County.” “Especially with everyone sharing all these pictures of the crazy garnishes, bloody marys are really coming out in social media a lot more, and they’re getting more attention that way.”
Arrowhead Farms is the passionate company behind an extensive line of artisanal cocktail mixers and salad dressings. The company offers a variety of cocktail mix gift sets that are the perfect treat to present to any cocktail loving party host. Arrowhead Farms’ Complete Cocktail Mix Gift Set features the company’s cult-classic Hellfire Club Bloody Mary Mix, the spicy Spitfire Margarita Mix and the company’s three newest mixers: Dark Harbor Southside Mix, Mexican House Margarita Mix and Giovanni’s Nectar of the Gods Bellini Mix. Each mix contains 25 delicious ounces. The Complete Cocktail Mix Gift Set comes in Arrowhead Farms signature gift packaging. In addition, Arrowhead Farms offers a number of other gift sets, including the Ultimate Deluxe Decadence Gift Set (five cocktail mixers and three salad dressings), the Morning After Cocktail Mix Gift Set (Hellfire Club Bloody Mary Mix and Nectar of the Gods Bellini Mix) and the Margarita Cocktail Mix Gift Set (Spitfire Margarita Mix and Mexican House Margarita Mix).
For more information on Arrowhead Farms or to see a complete list of the products the company offers, visit www.arrowheadfarms.com.
Mirella Amato’s tome Beerology is a must-buy gift for anyone who enjoys the pleasure of a pint. It bills itself as the ultimate unpretentious guide to understanding and enjoying the world of beer. There is truly a beer for every food, mood and occasion, and with the growing number of beer festivals and microbreweries popping up worldwide, beer is finally getting the attention and appreciation it deserves. For fans of this complex beverage, the overwhelming choices, brewing styles and traditions can be confusing to say the least. Enter Amato, one of only seven Certified Master Cicerones in the world. With an advanced brewing certificate to her name, readers are in expert hands as they navigate the multifaceted world of beer, guided by Amato’s refreshingly accessible style. The book is broken down into fun, easy-to-read chapters starting with an introduction to beer and progressing into a complete guide to properly tasting the beverage, as well as tips for throwing beer parties, making beer cocktails and pairing beer with food.
For more information on Mirella Amato’s Beerology, visit http://beerology.ca.
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Hella Bitter’s new Craft Your Own Bitters kit combines a passion for craft, creativity and delicious cocktails into an innovative kit that enables any cocktail enthusiast to make his or her own unique bitters at home. Seeking to change the way people think about what they drink, the Craft Your Own Bitters Kit makes it easy to add a touch of bitterness to everything from the perfect old fashioned to homemade marinades. With sophisticated modern palates craving bitter flavors, the kit helps consumers imagine up new flavor combinations that they might not have yet considered. The Hella Bitter Craft Your Own Bitters kit includes a custom funnel, a fine mesh steel strainer, two infusion jars, four dropper bottles and two spice blends – an aromatic blend and a citrus blend. The Craft Your Own Bitters kit offers an artisanal handcrafted alternative to the mass-produced bitters that have their place at nearly every home bar.
For more information on Hella Bitter’s Craft Your Own Bitters kit or to view the company’s other products, visit http://hellabitters.com.
Craft Brew Alliance, an independent craft brewer, recently announced that its second Craft Beer Explorer Variety Pack is now available in markets across the United States. The newest Craft Beer Explorer Pack, a concept which was introduced earlier this year, features exclusive limited-release beers from Kona Brewing, Redhook Brewery and Widmer Brothers Brewing. The hand-selected, small batch beers are available nationally only in this cross-brand package, offering beer drinkers a unique opportunity to try special release beers from three different craft breweries. The latest version of the package includes Kona Lemongrass Luau Blonde Ale, Redhook Fat Chance Light IPA and Widmer Brothers Double M.A.C. Session IPA. The Craft Beer Explorer Variety Pack features seasonally relevant specialty beers that are typically on tap at the brewery’s pubs but not yet available in broader distribution. For instance, many of the popular and unique craft beers from Kona Brewing in Hawaii never make it to mainland retail shelves. In this way, the Explorer Pack creates a unique opportunity for CBA to introduce new beers outside of their home markets.
For more information, visit www.craftbrew.com.
Mead, the alcoholic beverage made from honey, may be the world’s oldest fermented drink. The potable is now creating a buzz throughout the world. And, according to the World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists, the United States’ Moonstruck Meadery produces the best mead in the world. The organization named the company’s Capsumel pepper mead as number one among the 100 best meads in the world.
Every year, the WAWWJ classifies wines and wineries that participate in different wine contests held around the world. Their products are evaluated anonymously by the best specialists. Moonstruck Meadery came in first among meads for its unique pepper mead, Capsumel. Capsumel has traveled the world from the United States to competitions in Argentina, Israel and Ukraine. Each competition brought the unique beverage double gold and gold awards.
Capsumel has a unique taste and the nose of a fresh pepper garden with a harmonious blend of serrano, jalapeño and Anaheim peppers. The company is very grateful to be recognized as the world’s first place mead from professional judges around the world.
“We have a passion about mead, and Capsumel is a direct result of that,” said Brian Schlueter, owner of Moonstruck Meadery. “Mead is exploding in popularity. It’s truly the new delicious flavor people are looking for. One taste is all it takes.”
According to Schlueter, mead production has an all-around positive impact on the economy and the environment. “It directly helps the bees, the farmers, the foods we eat,” he said. “We are very grateful to produce mead and [are] looking forward to expanding our distribution so that others may enjoy this unique beverage from long ago.”
Chris Webber, President of the American Mead Makers Association, is excited for the growth he sees in terms of the overall popularity of mead among U.S. consumers. “The American mead industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds,” he said.
For more information on Nebraska-based Moonstruck Meadery, visit www.moonstruckmead.com.
The number of U.S. breweries more than doubled from 398 to 869 between 2007 and 2012, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released from the 2012 Economic Census Industry Series. The breweries industry reported $28.3 billion in shipments in 2012, an increase of nearly 33.6 percent since 2007.
Employment in the breweries industry also climbed over the five-year span, rising to 26,077 employees in 2012, up by 3,825 or 17.2 percent from 22,252 employed in the industry in 2007. Still, while overall employment within the brewing industry grew, the average number of employees per brewery decreased sharply from 56 in 2007 to 30 in 2012, a possible indication of the growth of smaller craft breweries within the larger American brewing landscape.
The economic census data also reveals that beer shipments in kegs have grown substantially but still represent just a fraction of overall beer shipments. Specifically, beer shipments in barrels and kegs rose 88.2 percent to $2.4 billion in 2012. However, kegs represented just 8.6 percent of all beer shipments, up from 6.1 percent in 2007.
The newly released economic census data also detailed growth within the American wine and distilled liquors industries. Data shows that the wineries industry employed 37,602 people in 2012, up from 33,390 people in 2007. Average payroll per employee increased 10.7 percent during this period.
Total product shipments of wineries was fairly evenly split between red and white wine: 31.6 percent red wine, 29.2 percent white wine. Meanwhile, rosé grape and other fruit and berry wines accounted for 2.6 percent of total shipments.
Sales of distilled liquor increased 29.9 percent from 2007 to 2012, outpacing the increases observed in wine sales (16.5 percent increase) and beer sales (9.6 percent increase) during the same period. Wine and distilled alcoholic beverage merchant wholesalers reported $78.3 billion in sales, a 23.6 percent increase from 2007 to 2012. By comparison, beer and ale merchant wholesalers reported sales of $57.7 billion in 2012, up 10.7 percent.
Future 2012 Economic Census Industry Series reports will be released through February 2015. For more information on these future releases or to see which industries’ data have been released already, see http://business.census.gov.
Spooky Cocktail Mixers are made using high quality natural ingredients that deliver a truly extraordinary fresh, balanced taste with no high fructose corn syrup, no MSG, no allergens, and are gluten-free.
Spooky Gourmet Cocktail Mixes include a Horseradish Bloody Mary that will scare your taste buds and put your mouth into pure delight with its 30 natural ingredients. It is brimming with chunks of spice and the great taste of horseradish. Friendly Bloody Mary is made to delight your taste buds without the horseradish, but with 29 other ingredients providing an amazing and complex big bold flavor. Blue Agave Nectar Margarita delivers a unique and exceptional flavor, not too tart and not too sweet. It gives you smooth refreshing perfection in a glass. Mojito features a light minty flavor with real lime juice and sweetened with just the right amount of pure natural sugar making a balanced, refreshing flavor. Rum Runner is a unique and fresh blend of natural tropical fruit flavors.
Sweet & Sour is a blend of high quality natural ingredients creating the ideal sweet and sour mix that is fresh tasting and perfectly balanced. Strawberry Daiquiri is a wonderful blend of natural ingredients that makes an excellent strawberry daiquiri, margarita or other creations. It delivers a freshly made taste and is made with real strawberries and naturally sweetened with real sugar. Pina Colada is a refreshing blend of natural flavors that is rich, creamy and perfectly balanced. It’s made with real pineapple, coconut and naturally sweetened. Spooky’s Lime Juice is naturally sweetened and the flavored lime juice delivers the fresh taste crucial to making a perfect cocktail. It’s also great for cooking.
Spooky Gourmet Cocktail Mixes come in 32-ounce bottles. 1.75 liter bottles, 1 gallon bottle and 3- and 5-gallon bag-in-box. They can be found at foodservice and beverage retailers and distributors, grocery and discount retailers, food and beverage catalogs, specialty retailers or online at www.spookybeverages.com
CideRoad LLC, has launched its Organic Switchel beverage in Original, Blueberry, and Cherry flavors.
Switchel is a refreshing beverage that can claim roots to the days of our forefathers, if not earlier, which is why CideRoad refers to it as “America’s Original Thirst Quencher.”
Kevin and Hilary Duffy, the married founders of CideRoad, got the idea to start the company after tasting switchel while literally driving down a side road in an old New England town. All CideRoad Organic Switchel products are certified organic by the USDA and made with only quality ingredients, including: organic Vermont maple syrup, organic apple cider vinegar, and organic ginger juice. CideRoad is currently available at select retail outlets in Northeast region and will soon be available nationwide.
CideRoad has appointed Phillip Tozzi and Associates as its natural food broker from Richmond, Virginia through Maine. Cascadia Managing Brands is assisting with the sales and distribution, and Mint Advertising is the company’s advertising agency.
The more than seven out of 10 consumers who are looking to add more protein to their diets have a new, old option to consider – bone broth. Organic broth brand Pacific Foods is introducing a line of organic ready-made varieties, developed to increase accessibility to the traditional recipe, which takes up to 24 hours to make.
With high protein, low calories and a myriad of reported wellness benefits, it’s easy to see why health enthusiasts, Paleo diet practitioners and CrossFit-ers, have led the way in reviving the ancient – and time intensive – practice of making sippable bone broth from scratch.
“Our bone broth has more protein than a glass of milk, half the calories and a heck of a lot more flavor,” said Kevin Tisdale, Vice President of Marketing for Pacific Foods. “Now, consumers can simply pour, heat and enjoy in just minutes.
Tradition Meets Innovation
Pacific’s organic bone broths are made by slowly simmering organic chicken and turkey bones, sourced from pasture-raised poultry, in a classic combination of apple cider vinegar, water, onion, fresh herbs and seasonings for a full 24 hours. The result is a broth that’s as rich in nutrition and flavor as homemade, with 9 grams of protein and only 40 calories per serving, and the additional benefits of being shelf-stable and available in convenient, resealable 32 and 8 ounce sizes. A glace-style organic bone stock is also available in chicken and turkey flavors, simmered for up to eight hours and boasting 14 grams of protein.
Sip by the Cup, Simmer and Sauté
Lightly seasoned with sea salt and fragrant herbs, consumers can warm and drink for a savory, protein-packed snack, or use in place of water when cooking grains and beans to add complex flavor and a boost of nutrition. The broths come in five distinct varieties:
Both the 8 and 32 ounce bone broths are packaged in BPA-free aseptic cartons, and the 15.2 ounce bone stock is packed in BPA-free recart cartons. All are available nationwide at natural food stores and conventional grocers with sugggested retail pricing of $1.79 – $2.39, $4.89 – $5.89, and $4.59 – $5.59, respectively.