North Lamar’s Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew makes a barbecue sauce that doesn’t just spice up the smoked meats — it’s also an essential ingredient in a new Bloody Mary mix.
Since Texas barbecue puts such a spotlight on the meat and not the sauce, Stiles Switch’ house sauce, a light tomato-based mixture of smoked black pepper and other spices, takes a supporting role on the plate. But it’s such a tasty accompaniment to meals at the restaurant that Catherine Stiles, wife of Stiles Switch owner Shane, always thought it would be just the right ingredient for a beverage she’s been making homemade for awhile.
She began to play around with the sauce in Bloody Marys and, after a year-and-a-half of tinkering with the recipe, finally produced an all-natural, preservative-free mix she thought was worthy of selling. Now, Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary mix is available for $12 at Stiles Switch and, later this month, will be found at small locally owned stores as well.
And for her, it’s much more than just a drink mix.
“A lot of me went into this project,” she said, noting that the design of the bottle was just as important to her as the quality of the mix.
To get the right look, she worked with Austin artist Gary Dorsey to come up with the double-sided label on the bottle: white lettering on the outside and an illustration on the inside depicting one of a series of “Barbecue Wives” — women, from a cheerleader to a Scarlett O’Hara-esque character, who embody the sort of strong, independent wives of men in the local barbecue scene she’s met since her own husband first opened Stiles Switch in December of 2011. Even before she started producing the mix, she thought it was important to highlight them.
“There’s no voice or platform for the women in the barbecue community supporting their husbands who go out and smoke meat every morning,” she said. “I’m hoping to give a voice to those women. We’re not just stay-at-home moms; we’re hard workers, entrepreneurs. And there’s just not a lot of representation for us in a male-dominated industry.”
She’s been giving women like her a voice since well before the Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary mix ever hit the market earlier this spring. She started @BarbecueWife on Twitter a few years ago to talk “about what life is like when your husband owns a barbecue restaurant,” she said. It has proven to be a fun outlet, she said, that’s now turned into a way to spread the word about her new Bloody Mary mix.
The current five women depicted on the Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary mix bottle (who you can’t see until you drink up some of the mix) will eventually get switched out with another round of Barbecue Wives, she said.
In the meantime, pick up a bottle soon at the restaurant. This weekend is a special opportunity to try Barbecue Wife because Stiles Switch is hosting a “BYOV”: Purchase the mix, bring the vodka and load up your Bloody Mary with all the fixings you could want.
You’ll find the Barbecue Wife mix carries a delightfully savory punch of smoke and heat — something you’ll want to sip on slowly while you feast on, well, some barbecue. For more information, visit Barbecue Wife’s Facebook page or visit barbecuewife.com.
This post has been corrected to reflect that Gary Dorsey designed the bottle labels of Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary mix.