BERLIN — A brunch staple is the Bloody Mary, which is known to be a hangover cure and a preppy drink that gives people an excuse to drink during the day. Many restaurants offer their own variations on the Bloody Mary theme, though most use some combination of the drink’s traditional ingredients: vodka, tomato juice, lemon or lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, horseradish, salt, pepper and a rib of celery for garnish.
The tangy vodka cocktail is infinitely customizable and it brings out the mad scientist in many bartenders. The secret to a good Mary is all about balance – and Greg David can testify to that. Two years ago, David spent three months creating a recipe for the best Bloody Mary mix on the shore. Months later, George’s Bloody Mary Mix was perfected, bottled and distributed. George’s Bloody Mary Mix can be found in bars, restaurants, liquor stores and shops across Maryland and Delaware.
David’s love for bloodies began while he was working as a bartender in Annapolis.
“Everyone always remarked about how great Greg’s bloody marys were. One day, I suggested he bottle it,” said Theda Bakis, David’s girlfriend.
It took some convincing from Theda and her twin sister, Alex Bakis, before Greg seriously considered bottling his mix. After Theda and Alex Bakis worked out the logistics of creating, running and managing a small business, David gave in.
He spent those three months mixing hot sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, celery salts and tomatoes together in his kitchen before determining the perfect measurements of each ingredient used in his adored bloody marys.
“George’s Mix is unique in the fact that you don’t really have to mix it. You just have to add your spirits and you’re set,” said David.
George’s Bloody Mary Mix pairs perfectly with smooth vodkas. Alternately, some individuals choose to pair the mix with gin. Tequila can be used to create a tangy Bloody Maria, too. If you like a little more kick, top the cocktail with plenty of green olives, a fresh stalk of celery, pickled green beans or lemon or lime wedge. Seafood lovers can add a shrimp to the rim, too. For a Virgin Mary, just leave out the alcohol – George’s Mix can stand all on its own when poured over ice.
The George’s crew stresses that their mix has multiple uses. Besides mixing with spirits, the mix can be incorporated into delicious snacks, appetizers and meals. George’s website features more than two dozen original recipes that incorporate the Bloody Mary mixture.
“There is so much flavor to the mix. It’s great to cook with,” said Alex Bakis before announcing her favorite things to make with the mix.
“Besides being used in drinks or in recipes, the mix can be used as a marinade, too. It’s delicious when used on venison or pork chops,” said Theda Bakis.
David moved to Berlin a few years ago. While bartending at The Globe, one of Berlin’s popular restaurants located on Broad Street, he met many supportive individuals who loved his spicy drink. Weeks later, he won the Seacrets and Irie Radio’s Bloody Mary Contest and gained the title “Best Bloody Mary in Ocean City”. The word about David’s delicious tomato drinks spread.
“Everything started with the people we know and those who support us. We utilized all of our connections,” said Alex Bakis about starting the business. “Businesses and individuals in this area are really supportive of other small businesses. The feeling of being part of our community really helped us a lot.”
Currently, George’s Bloody Mary Mix is available in 125 locations across Maryland and Delaware. In October of last year, George’s Bloody Mary Mix was picked up by Reliable Churchill, a Baltimore-based company that is the leading distributor of fine wines and spirits in Maryland.
Locally, several bars serve only Bloody Marys made with George’s Mix, including Blu Crabhouse, Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon, Coconuts, Liquid Assets, Station 7 Bar & Grill, The Globe and the Shark on the Harbor.
“It’s prudent for bars to purchase a mix so their bloodies are all consistent,” said David.
By using George’s Mix, Bloody Marys at one establishment won’t vary from bartender to bartender or from shift to shift. Each bartender will be using the same mix instead of creating their own. This means that patrons to the bar will consistently be served a bloody that tastes the exact same each time the visit that establishment.
The name, George’s Mix, came about as a way to honor David’s late father, who had owned and operated several restaurants in Washington, DC and Prince George’s County. Naming his Bloody Mary concoction after his father was a tribute to his success in the restaurant business.
To learn more about the mix and its origin, visit www.GeorgesMixes.com. Have a recipe you’ve created that included George’s Bloody Mary Mix? Send it to Greg@GeorgesMixes.com and George’s Mix will feature it on their website.
(The writer is the executive editor of ShoreBread.com.)