Three of Austin’s best Bloody Mary mixes to create your own boozy brunch at home

Many summer weekends ahead mean relaxing with a drink during a long, leisurely brunch.

To that end, we’ve rounded up several Austin restaurants that serve delicious brunch cocktails — whether it’s a classic mimosa you’re seeking or something a little more off-the-wall, like Snooze’s Bacon & Eggs whiskey sour.

But you might be like me: staying in close proximity to your bed. So, if you’d rather not venture far but still want a little morning buzz (no judgment here, OK), we’ve got you covered there, too. Here are three locally made Bloody Mary mixes that you can add a little vodka to and snuggle up with.

Contributed by Barbecue Wife. Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix is made locally by Catherine Stiles, who uses Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew’s special house sauce in it.

Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix

The wife of Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew owner Shane Stiles, Catherine Stiles uses the restaurant’s house sauce, a light tomato-based mixture of smoked black pepper and other spices, as the not-so-secret ingredient in the mix she spent a year-and-a-half perfecting. Now, the all-natural, preservative-free Barbecue Wife is easy to find in local stores like Whole Foods and Royal Blue Grocery.

Grab this one if you want a savory punch of smoke and heat in your Bloody Mary. (Needless to say, it’s the right kind of pick-me-up the morning after a night out.)

There’s another good reason to love the product: Stiles has packed a lot of heart into it, sticking a double-sided label on the bottles that are illustrated on the inside with a picture of a “barbecue wife,” a series of strong women she feels don’t get enough representation for their hard work. You’ll have to finish the bottle to see the full image, as if you needed more incentive.

For more information, visit barbecuewife.com.

Lauren’s Garden Craft Cocktail Juice

The tagline that accompanies this local potion is “From garden to glass,” and it’s not wrong. Lauren Kelleher was inspired to make a Bloody Mary mix created from freshly squeezed tomatoes after her neighbors in Travis Heights would throw “tomato parties” during their harvests of the juicy red vegetable. At the parties, the Bloody Marys with just-squeezed juice were unlike any she’s had before.

That’s what you’ll notice with Lauren’s Garden’s four varieties of Bloody Mary mix, including Original, Texican, Lightly Seasoned Tomato Juice and Serrano Lime. They’ve all got different flavors, but their essence is the same. Lauren’s Garden Craft Cocktail Juice tastes, as one Facebook reviewer put it, like actual tomatoes were added to her Bloody Mary. Fancy that.

Bottles of each are made with three pounds of Texas tomatoes sourced from Marfa and are all-natural, vegan and non-GMO. They’re also low-calorie, so you won’t have to feel too guilty about adding just a little extra vodka (although I’d suggest a blanco tequila with the Original — the interplay of the agave and tomato is really something magical).

Find Lauren’s Garden mixes at a variety of local HEBs, Royal Blue Grocery, and Central Markets and Whole Foods statewide. For more information, visit laurensgardenmix.com/.

The Bloody Buddy

This Bloody Mary mix, from former Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse bartender Buddy Jordan, is perhaps the most conducive to a lazy day — it comes with the vodka already in it, so all you have to do is shake it and add it to a glass with some ice.

Jordan created it after noticing that there were hardly any ready-to-drink Bloody Mary mixes on the market, despite the popularity of ready-to-drink options as a whole. There also weren’t any with a boozy infusion in them. But Bloody Buddy covers that niche with a special blend of chili peppers that are infused with the vodka and then combined with juices and seasonings in a recipe he’s taken several years to get just right.

You can find bottles (in small four-packs or single large-format) at most Spec’s locations. For more information, visit thebloodybuddy.com.

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Buddy Jordan, the creator of the Bloody Buddy, infuses his ready-to-mix vodka product with chili peppers.

Barbecue Wife wins big at entrepreneurial competition at SXSW

Contributed by Boston Beer Co. Catherine Stiles, of Barbecue Wife, won a competition among small business owners in Austin at SXSW.

The local maker of an all-natural Bloody Mary mix distilled her dream about the business into a cohesive pitch that won over the judges and the audience at the Pop-Up Pitch Room competition at South by Southwest this weekend.

Catherine Stiles, owner of the spicy mix she calls Barbecue Wife, took home both the main prize of the $10,000 business grant and the $5,000 People’s Choice Award. The Pop-Up Pitch Room is the brainchild of Boston Beer Co., the brewery behind Samuel Adams beers and Brewing the American Dream, a philanthropic program that fueled the creation of the competition.

“I’m still in shock and so very humbled by the win. I was both the judges’ selection and the People’s Choice selection, so it was a surreal day,” Stiles said via email.

She was the head of one of five Austin-based food and beverage small businesses that competed in the Pop-Up Pitch Room, with each business owner giving two-minute pitches about their projects.

Samuel Adams’ Brewing the American Dream — which also released a collaboration beer at the event with locally located Infamous Brewing— “provides micro-lending, coaching and mentoring to food, beverage, and craft brewing small business owners nationwide and welcomed Grand Prize and People’s Choice winner Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix to its national network of innovative and passionate entrepreneurs,” according to a news release.

The other participants in the Pop-Up Pitch Room competition include Joe’s Microgreens, Banner Distilling, FOND Bone Broth and GFY Kitchen. Stiles, however, presented the best pitch.

She has been producing the Bloody Mary mix since 2015 using the barbecue sauce from her husband Shane’s restaurant, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew. The result is a perfectly balanced savory mixture of smoke and heat and is available at a variety of Austin retailers, including Whole Foods, Breed & Co, and Twin Liquors.

And if you’re looking for some Bloody Mary goodness at the rest of the fest this week, Barbecue Wife will be served at Rachael Ray’s SXSW party.

Give blood and get a Bloody Mary at Craftsman in return

Knowing you’re helping someone is a reward in itself when giving blood, but East Austin bar Craftsman is offering an extra incentive for you now through the month of March.

Craftsman is offering blood donors a free Bloody Mary throughout February and March, when blood donations are at their lowest annually.
Craftsman is offering blood donors a free Bloody Mary throughout February and March, when blood donations are at their lowest annually.

Bring in proof that you’ve given blood through March 31 and Craftsman will give you a free Bloody Mary in return. Plus, all proceeds of purchased Bloody Mary drinks in the same time period will go toward the Blood & Tissue Center of Central Texas. (But keep in mind, if you do give blood, that donors should refrain from consuming alcohol on the day of their donation.)

Craftsman’s owner, Brandon Testa, decided to offer this deal in honor of the end of National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, which was in January. February and March, he learned after a meeting with the blood center, sees a big decrease in the amount of blood donations annually.

“I know countless people who have family members or friends whose lives were saved thanks to organizations that provide blood like the Blood Center of Central Texas,” Testa said in a press release. “We thought a natural fit to help such an important organization would be to donate the proceeds of Bloody Mary sales, one of our most popular and delicious selections on our menu.”

The Craftsman Bloody Mary is house-made with the bar’s own spices, tomato juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Tito’s Vodka. Try it out during brunch, when the East Cesar Chavez Street bungalow bar is offering a menu of Mexican items like huevos rancheros, Tacos Don Chaco and the vegetarian Tacos Mi Madre.

And even if you aren’t a fan of Bloody Marys, Testa is hoping that his promotion brings awareness to the importance of giving blood, “one of the simplest and safest ways to help someone in need,” he said in the press release.

Craftsman is located at 2000 E. Cesar Chavez St. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/craftsmanbar.

Stiles Switch sauce a crucial ingredient in Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary mix

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.

Photo by Wyatt McSpadden. Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary mix features Stiles Switch barbecue sauce as an ingredient, making it a smoky, spicy delight.
Photo by Wyatt McSpadden. Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary mix features Stiles Switch barbecue sauce as an ingredient, making it a smoky, spicy delight.

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.”

Photo by Wyatt McSpadden. Catherine Stiles is passionate about telling the stories of the "barbecue wives" she's met since her husband opened a barbecue restaurant, Stiles Switch, in late 2011.
Photo by Wyatt McSpadden. Catherine Stiles is passionate about telling the stories of the “barbecue wives” she’s met since her husband opened a barbecue restaurant, Stiles Switch, in late 2011.

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.

Locally made Bloody Mary mix made from fresh-squeezed Texas tomatoes

When Lauren Kelleher lived in Travis Heights, her neighbors would throw yearly tomato parties to celebrate their recent harvests of the juicy red vegetable. At these parties, they’d make Bloody Mary cocktails (along with BLT sandwiches) that she noticed tasted unlike any other Bloody Mary she’d had before. That got her thinking other people should be able to enjoy such freshly juiced Bloody Marys, too.

A new Bloody Mary mix featuring juiced Texas-grown tomatoes is currently available at local farmers markets. Creator Lauren Kelleher wanted to make a mix that was all-natural and fresh.
A new Bloody Mary mix featuring juiced Texas-grown tomatoes is currently available at local farmers markets. Creator Lauren Kelleher wanted to make a mix that was all-natural and fresh.

“I had never seen fresh-squeezed Bloody Mary mixes on the market before, so I wanted to create that product for people to be able to enjoy at home, much like I had,” she said.

The result of her more-than-a-year-long effort to produce a mix similar to the one her Travis Heights neighbors served is Lauren’s Garden Fresh Squeezed Bloody Mary Mix, made from Texas tomatoes (this time of year, they come from Marfa, but in spring, summer and early fall she’ll source them from Austin farms) and free of gluten, preservatives, MSGs and other additives that she said is present in a lot of other Bloody Mary mixes currently available.

Her mix comes in two varieties, Original and Mild, and both have mostly the same ingredients: tomatoes, lemon juice, spices and sea salt. The Original has “a bit more of a kick” because it’s also got a little Tabasco powder and cracked black pepper — it’s the mix you’ll want to put in your morning Bloody Mary.

“Mild is for people who don’t want the heat but do like the idea of drinking fresh squeezed tomato juice,” Kelleher said, noting that at the local farmer’s markets where she sells the mix, she sometimes offers the mild version to kids.

Because both are all-natural and featuring Texas-grown tomatoes she juices herself (one liter bottle contains about three pounds of the vegetable, she said), they’re appealing to many of the people who taste them. About every other person who tries the mix buys a bottle, she said.

They’re currently sold at the Lone Star Farmers Market in Bee Cave, at the Mueller Farmers Market off Airport Boulevard and the Cedar Park Farmers Market near Lakeline Mall. Wahoo’s Fish Tacos on South Congress Avenue has also started carrying them. And she’s starting to explore getting them into small, independent grocery stores as well.

She used to do the marketing for Dripping Springs Vodka, but that’s not the only reason she thinks the vodka is best with her Original mix. “Dripping Springs Vodka is actually really good with it,” she said. “The vodka has a sweet, round quality to it that goes well with the heat and the lemony nature of my product.”

Classic Garden Mary

1 ½ oz. Dripping Springs Vodka
4 oz. Lauren’s Garden Fresh Bloody Mary Mix

Build over ice and top with your favorite garnishes.

— Lauren’s Garden

For more information or to order the mixes online, visit www.laurensgardenmix.com.