POWELL & MAHONEY BLOODY MARY MIX
Made by Powell & Mahoney, Ltd., 39 Norman Street, Salem, MA 01970
Price: About $8
Powell & Mahoney makes 17 different drink mixers and a Simple Syrup
I recently received a sample bottle of the basic, un-fiddled-with Bloody Mary Mix from Powell & Mahoney (as a part of my new resolution to stop pretending that cocktails don’t exist) mainly because the number of emails I get saying, “Hey, what’s your deal with cocktails, anyway? Are they beneath you or something? Fathead” finally reached critical mass.
I drink three cocktails: Gin/Vodka Tonic with Lime, the occasional White Russian, (my gorgeous Domestic Partner is a BIG White Russki girl), and the Bloody Mary, the only one about which I get Attitudinal. We order Bloodys a lot, when traveling, and have them as part of our Seahawks pre-game ritual at Temple Billiards, here in Seattle, where theirs starts with a base of our local Dimitri’s Bloody Mary Mix, a slammin’ concentrate that makes a near-perfect base for any sort of experimentation. I also make my own mix at home, a practice which I STRONGLY endorse for anyone who knows how to cook at all and understands the relationships between flavors and textures in foods. But we try all sorts of other Bloody mixers and, believe it or not, out of the (not kidding) fifty or so bottled/packaged Bloody mixers I’ve tried in the past thirty-five years, Powell & Mahoney is the only one (aside from Dimitri’s) I’ve ever felt moved to write about and recommend.
I likes me some Bloody Mary with Body, which has nothing to do with my name. I want Meaty, Hearty, and Palate-Coating, and P&M delivers that in spades. Kept in the fridge, it looks like catsup pouring out of the spout, a bright red rope of aromatic goodness that delivers exactly what it promises: heft. On the front of the palate, it’s sweet, in that earthy, tomato-y way that only comes from great, ripe tomatoes. Whether it starts with raw tomatoes or a paste or puree, the fruit it starts with must be fully ripened and P&M is, without question, composed of serious tomato quality.
On the mid-palate, it’s nicely salty and peppery, with a light but definite tingle of spice heat that lingers sweetly as you swallow. It’s not fussy and over-done, like maybe 90% of all the mixes I taste tend to be. There’s no over-thought spice spectrum at work in this mix, just a brawny, straightforward, substance and presence which only comes from embracing a Less Is More philosophy and knowing when to quit; one of the rarest and most laudable traits to which any chef can aspire.
The only complaint I have about it at all is a definite and over-driven citrus character that comes just behind the tip-of-tongue sweetness and reads as an almost metallic or medicinal sharpness. It’s not overwhelming or the ruin of the whole but it’s there and unmistakable and is really all – aside from a slight lack of Worcestershire – that keeps this from being as good a mix as I’ve tasted yet. This last observation has to be taken with a HUGE grain of salt because, as I will say near-constantly in writing about cocktails, many people will really love that citrus wallop and my description here may be what actually convinces some folks to try it…or so I hope, anyway.
I’m an incessant tinkerer and, even as a chef for those three+ decades, am fundamentally incapable of not tinkering with a recipe. For that reason – just as with Dimitri’s. Powell & Mahoney is, for me, a superb base for me to use in short-cutting the whole process of making what I consider the perfect Bloody Mary. I suspect that, if you’re also one of those millions who see all mixers as just a head-start on your own creativity, you’ll find Powell & Mahoney Bloody Mary Mixer as versatile and near-complete as I do. I haven’t done it yet but, using my old chef’s secret decoder ring, I plan to start a base recipe with about six ounces of P&M, add a half-teaspoon of Worcestershire, a teaspoon of horseradish (for the Domestic Partner), a teaspoon of coarse-ground black pepper, a couple of drops of fish sauce, some celery salt, a couple of liberal shakes of Tabasco, and some garlic powder. Shake well, let sit overnight, serve with two ounces of as neutral vodka as I ever have in the house (which is not very) and enjoy, garnished with pickled asparagus and a pepperoni stick. Or, I might sneak some Sriracha in there, as P&M do in their own bottled Sriracha Bloody Mary Mix. At any rate, Powell & Mahoney stands as one of only two – out of fifty or so – Bloody Mary mixes I have ever thought was solid and complete enough to recommend whole-heartedly and I imagine, if you’re not an obsessive tinkerer, you may find Powell & Mahoney just fine, as is. It is certainly head and shoulders above a fat 98% of all I’ve tasted in my 35 years as a Bloody Fool. 94 Points