Can a Good Bloody Mary Be Made From a Mix? Perhaps So, But Get Yourself Some Fatalii
Most bottled cocktail mixes are loathsome, brought down by corn syrup, chemical tastes or a necessary replacement of fresh citrus juice with citric acid. The only bottled cocktail I'll consider is a Bloody Mary mix, as most of the ingredients of a "fresh" Bloody Mary come from a bottle or jar anyway.
I was alerted to a new possibility during a visit to iBurn last month, where co-owner James Wreck showed me a combination of a Bloody Mary mix and a pepper purée. He'd tested it with a bartender, who gave the combo a thumbs-up and said it was one of the best Bloody Marys she had ever served.
That obviously called for a taste-off, so I bought a quart of Freshies Hot Mary Spicy Habanero all-natural mix, and a bottle of CaJohn's Fatalii pepper purée, and went to work. The other side of the comparison was a Bloody Mary made with Campbell's tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, Tabasco, cayenne powder, and fresh lemon and lime juice.
First I tasted the Freshies Hot Mary mix with nothing but vodka. Surprisingly, the habanero wasn't very hot, though it started to sneak up on me. The drink was a little heavy on the Worcestershire sauce and celery salt, so it needed something to lighten that taste; it needed fresh citrus juice. A teaspoon of lemon didn't work, but a teaspoon of lime made it a decent Bloody Mary.