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.
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.
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.
Terlato Wines has entered into a new partnership to take over the U.S. sales and marketing of Cecchi, a leading producer in Chianti Classico and other Tuscan wines, effective Jan. 1, 2015. The long-term agreement with the Cecchi family adds depth and diversity to the Terlato Italian portfolio with a highly regarded and established premium brand from Tuscany’s renowned Chianti Classico region.
Cecchi has been producing premium wines from single vineyard estates in Tuscany for more than 120 years, and is in its fourth generation of family management with brothers Cesare and Andrea Cecchi – great grandsons of founder Luigi Cecchi – leading the winery today. They have invested significantly in expanding their vineyard holdings and modernizing their wineries and winemaking operations, always with a goal of improving the quality of their wines. The Cecchi brand has been sold in the U.S. for more than 25 years. Today, Cecchi is a leading Tuscan brand, focused on its range of wines from Chianti Classico, with additional wines from Maremma and Umbria.
“We started discussions with Cesare and Andrea earlier this year, as they initiated their search for a new U.S. importer,” said Terlato Wines Chief Executive William A. Terlato. “Cesare and Andrea wanted to make certain they chose the right long-term partner to build their brand in the U.S. market. A blind tasting conducted at their winery convinced us that their winemaking approach and commitment to quality would make Cecchi an ideal fit in our portfolio. Both families are aligned on the brand’s untapped potential. We have an opportunity to build a leadership position in the Chianti Classico category and establish a stronger brand presence with the current portfolio and some exceptional new wines.”
Terlato will import a collection of wines from Cecchi, but will focus on a targeted range of six wines that are key expressions of Cecchi’s Tuscan heritage and their diversity of vineyard holdings, including: Chianti Classico DOCG; Chianti Classico Riserva di Famiglia DOCG; Coevo IGT Toscana; La Mora Vermentino DOC Maremma Toscana; La Mora Morellino di Scansano DOCG and; Sangiovese IGT Toscana.
“We are extremely pleased to be working with the Terlato family,” said Cesare Cecchi. “Terlato Wines is widely known as the leading luxury importer in the U.S., and we know our partnership will build our U.S. brand presence and image. They are a great fit for us.”
Terlato Wines has a global portfolio of more than 70 brands from world class wine producers in more than a dozen countries and controls a 20 percent market share of wines $20 and up in the U.S. Terlato Wines garners more 90+ ratings than any wine company in the world and is a division of the Terlato Wine Group, the parent company comprising several small businesses specializing in the marketing and production of exceptional wines. Owned and operated by the Terlato family for four generations, the Group also includes the family’s winery investments and partnerships in some of the world’s most esteemed wine regions including: Napa Valley; Sonoma County; Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County; Victoria, Australia; the Rhone Valley in France and; Montalcino,Italy.
The Terlato Wines portfolio of brands includes: Napa Valley: Chimney Rock, EPISODE, Galaxy, Jack Nicklaus Wines, Luke Donald Collection, Markham Vineyards, Rutherford Hill, Tangley Oaks, Terlato Family Vineyards; Sonoma County: Alderbrook, Giarrusso, Hanna, Rochioli, The Federalist, Terlato Family Vineyards; Santa Barbara County: Flor de Campo, Sanford; California Appellation: Glass Mountain, Greystone Cellars, Mike Ditka Wines, Seven Daughters; Oregon: Sokol Blosser; Washington State: Grace Lane; Argentina: Cuarto Dominio, Tamari; Australia: Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier, the Lucky Country, Twelftree, Two Hands; Austria: Kracher; Canada: Peller Estates; Chile: Lapostolle; France: Belleruche by M. Chapoutier, Champagne Bollinger, Chateau de Sancerre, Chateau Timberlay, Chanson Pere & Fils, Domaine Ramonet, Langlois-Chateau, M. Chapoutier, MARIUS, Mischief & Mayhem; Greece: Boutari, Elios; Italy: Anselmi, Berlucchi, Ca’Marcanda (GAJA Toscana), Cecchi, Colavita, Cusumano, Fizz 56, GAJA, Goretti, Il Poggione, Mazzoni (Toscana), Nino Franco, Santa Margherita, Torresella,; Japan: Shimizu-no-mai Sake; Mediterranean: Elios; New Zealand: Loveblock, Turning Heads, Wairau River; South Africa: Anthonij Rupert, Ernie Els, Guardian Peak, Protea, Rust en Vrede; Spain: Bodegas Valdemar, Marco Abella. Artisan Spirits: Adelphi Selections Scotch, Distillatori Nonino (Grappa), Don Pancho Origenes Rum, Heartland Prohibition Gin, Langley’s No. 8 Gin; Marnier Cognac, Riazul Tequila, Spring Mill Bourbon, Tigre Blanc Vodka and Tiramisu Liqueur.
THIRSTIE, the New York based on-demand wine and spirits delivery marketplace, has extended its service to customers in Miami.
THIRSTIE now offers Miami customers the convenience of bottle service at their doors and eliminates the trips to the liquor store. THIRSTIE is the only app offering this service in Miami and is available on a number of platforms including online, iOS and Android. THIRSTIE provides a simple, intuitive user experience that makes liquors easy to find while also serving as a discovery tool for new products that might be out of the ordinary. THIRSTIE works with key retailers to curate the selections for an optimized shopping experience ensuring that the customer’s order is in stock. With all orders, THIRSTIE delivers purchases within the hour.
“We’ve seen some incredible success already in our initial launch markets, so choosing a city with this much vibrancy and excitement as Miami only made sense for our next launch,” said CEO Devaraj Southworth. “Miami sets the trends for the mixology and spirits community, so we wanted to offer THIRSTIE as the newest go-to service for having a good time.”
THIRSTIE is easy to use on any platform. After downloading and opening the app, the customer is instantly connected to participating liquor merchants closest to their desired delivery address. THIRSTIE provides users with information about each product such as the size, alcohol content and price. The customer can shop as long as they like, selecting options and adding them to their shopping cart. When ready to check out, the customer selects the shopping cart option where they can view everything that has been added. The customer then selects their payment method and completes the order. Once the order is confirmed, the customer receives an email verification and delivery of their wine or liquor purchase will arrive within the hour.
Kings Food Markets announced the hire of Paul Guarino, local executive chef and wine expert, as the Fine Wine and Spirits Manager in the Kings Ridgewood, N.J. store, which has added more than 600 wines, 250 liquors and a variety of local and craft beers to its offering.
In this role, Guarino will oversee the new Fine Wine and Spirits department, which was added to the Ridgewood location as part of an entire store refresh. The store celebrated the department’s grand opening on Friday, May 2.
“Paul is a great addition to our team,” said Judy Spires, President and CEO of Kings Food Markets. “He is going to make Ridgewood’s new wine and spirits department the ultimate destination for our shoppers, providing them with a unique opportunity to not only purchase their favorite specialty cheeses, ‘top of the catch’ seafood, fresh and organic produce, quality meats – as well as all of Kings’ other gourmet food offerings – but also select combinations of fine wines, spirits and local craft beers to pair with that food. Between the new offerings and Paul’s extensive knowledge, our shoppers in Ridgewood will now have the perfect resource for all their entertaining needs, whether that’s just dinner with the family or party for friends and neighbors.”
With over 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Guarino has extensive knowledge to contribute from a diverse background. Guarino owned and managed the Beverage Barn in Northvale, N.J. for 10 years and is also a trained chef, having attended the Culinary Institute of America in 1995. He most recently spent 11 years as General Manager and Executive Chef at the Colonial Inn in Norwood, N.J.
In the recent “Best of California Wine Competition 2013″ Hunt Cellars, a Paso Robles based boutique winery, was just notified that in this competition held by Food and Beverage World, Hunt Cellars won four out of the 11 categories.
Hunt Cellars won the following:
Kirin has partnered with celebrity Chef and Top Chef contestant, Candice Kumai, to share Japanese-style beer pairings with foodies, as traditional Japanese and Asian-fusion cuisines continue to grow in popularity. The partnership kicks-off in earnest at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., where Kirin and Kumai will offer Japanese-style beers and a special frosty Japanese serving method to attendees.
With Japanese roots and expertise in Asian cuisine, Kumai will serve as the Kirin brand ambassador, bringing the pure, clean taste of the Japanese-style lager to beer drinkers at the festival and beyond.
“As a chef, it’s important to select beverages that will highlight your recipes,” said Kumai. “With rich flavor and a deep, smooth finish, Kirin Ichiban complements refined traditional Japanese cuisine, the bold tastes of modern Asian-fusion food and other flavor-forward dishes.”
Throughout the year, Kumai will share special recipes with Kirin fans on Facebook.com/KirinUSA and continue to make appearances with Kirin throughout the year. At the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Kumai will be dishing up Kirin samples, pairing tips and Japanese drinking customs. Kumai is scheduled to make appearances at the Festival’s Grand Sake Tasting on April 3 and its Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival on April 5.
While beer drinkers have long-loved enjoying Kirin at Asian restaurants, the National Cherry Blossom Festival will offer of-age beer drinkers a new opportunity to enjoy several varieties of Kirin and a unique, frozen preparation of its signature brand. Selection to include:
“People are expanding their culinary horizons and discovering a wide range of dishes and flavors that are inspired by Asian cuisine,” said Michael Lourie, brand manager, Kirin Beer. “Partnering with Candice is an opportunity to excite beer drinkers about pairing their favorite foods with Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light at restaurants, and trying the beers with both familiar and new recipes at home.”
For more information on Kirin or to find it close to home, visit Facebook.com/KirinUSA. For more information on the National Cherry Blossom festival, visit nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.