Why Hello There, and welcome back to Kitchen Catastrophes’ “Edible Adventures” series, where Jon and his carefully selected team of “whoever is near me at that moment” go on a taste test of some kind. In the past, we’ve reviewed hand pies, weird fruits, and more than a fair bit of alcohol. Well, today, we’re doing Alcohol today. Or, more technically, Alcohol mixers. To be even more specific, Bloody Mary Mixers. To be Specific-to-the-point-of-uselessness, and therefore the most accurate: Varieties of Bloody Mary seasoning mix made by a single company.
No, seriously. That's what we're doing.
Now, before anyone asks or, given the current climate of the Internet, accuses, I assure you, the company did not pay for this post. Heck, no company has OFFERED to pay for a post here. The closest we’ve come is an offer for free pie coupons from Boomerang, and those never showed up! So technically I was offered imaginary pie reimbursement. I should email them again. They were quite nice people.
But no, Demitri’s did not pay for this. This was simply a matter of wanting to do something Bloody Mary-related, noting that my family already owned two of the four seasoning mixes, and saying “hey, let’s just buy the other two, and make a day out of it.” So we did. And here are the results.
Today’s Tasting was conducted by myself , my mother Nancy, and my brothers Stephen and Nathan. Depending on how boring writing out all of our names gets, I may devolve to Initlals, with an M for “Mom”. We’ll see how it goes.
The Method to the Madness
First, a quick note for posterity. To minimize variance, every batch of Bloody Marys was prepared and served in the same way: two cups of tomato juice, a shot of seasoning mix, and two shots of flavored vodka. Please note that this means that our drinks are not standard balance: we’re at 50% MORE mix than usual, and half the standard vodka ration. However, given recent tragedies and somewhat strained emotions, I saw the potential for all my immediate family becoming day-drunk simultaneously as a risk not worth taking. Also, this would emphasize the flavor of the mix itself!
Also, to inject some levity into the proceedings, and to continue my unpaid shillery for their products, all Bloody Marys would be served with a Pepperoni Straw.
I really only included this picture to prove to my uncle that I used the straws before him.
Made by the same company, the pepperoni straw is exactly that: a hollowed-out tube of cured meat for sipping Bloody Marys. The instant I saw it, I bought it, because I suspect in all the multiverse, there is not a Jon O’Guin who would NOT have found that idea charmingly silly. Nor one who is starting to find the necessary capitalization because "Bloody Mary" is a proper noun irritating.
Our Taste Test begins around 12:30 PM, yesterday afternoon. I’ve been trying to get people to do this thing for like, 3 weeks, to no avail, and now they’ve decided “yeah, sure, we’re in.” and now it’s my fault I wasn’t ready for them.
The transcripted notes of the process begin now.
The Logs of Inebriation
Jon: I have been summoned to make this, despite multiple explanations we wouldn’t do it for several hours, and then immediately abandoned. This is a fitting metaphor for most plans we have here.
I have prepared the first round of drinks, assigning glasses to each party. Nate will have the Mac and Jack’s Glass, Stephen the Terminator Stout, Mother the Uinta Brewing glass, and I will have the Lazy Boy Brewing glass, for reasons I assume are obvious.
I took this picture, and then said "Why did I do this? Do I expect them to look different enough to be visually interesting?"
Jon: Despite yelling multiple times, mother and Stephen have not come for the taste test. It is up to me and Nathan now.
Nathan: This drink has a bit of a kick to it. Which is worrying, since every other one is supposedly hotter.
Jon: My straw is having some troubles. I think it’s clogged with itself.
Nathan: Mine’s a little slow on the pull, but it’s fine overall.
Jon has succeeded at drinking from a straw.
Jon: Well. This tastes like a Bloody Mary.
We sit briefly in silence, contemplating the idiocy that would drive me to make that comment, knowing I would then write down my own inane thoughts. In this silent stretch, Stephen arrives.
Stephen: My meat straw is clogged.
Jon: Try harder.
Stephen: Is this like, a blind taste test? Am I allowed to know which one this is?
Jon: We’re going in order of presumed hotness, so Classic first.
Stephen: Well, I like it.
He begins to eat his meat straw. This seems foolhardy, so soon into drinking, but whatever.
Stephen takes another pull.
Stephen: This is good. Spicy.
Nathan: Not a great thing to say.
Stephen: Why not?
Nathan: We literally JUST said this was the least spicy variety.
Stephen: Ooh, I may need to drop out.
Nathan: Nuh-uh, dawg. You joined this thing, so you gotta finish it.
The next minute or so are Stephen attempting to establish reasons why, should it come to it, he will definitely abandon the mission, and refuses to accept any blame for that choice. As he does so, he inserts a plastic straw into his meat straw. Also during this time, our Mother arrives, is given her drink, and takes a pull.
Nathan: Another not-amazing reaction.
She drinks from the edge of the glass.
Nancy: It tastes different through the straw.
Nathan: That’s kind of the point of the straw.
Nancy: My first drink was spicy. And now, either I’m used to it, or it’s less spicy when not from the straw.
Nathan: Again, kind of the point. The straw adds pepperoni spices.
Chilis and Cheese
I have wandered off. Because we decided that, if we were going to drink bloody marys, we’d probably need some toast to cleanse our palettes between glasses. And if we’re going to be making toast for a tomato-based drink, we should just make grilled cheese sandwiches, and commit. Besides, the fat will help tone down the acidity of the drinks.
And because it's always a good time for Grilled Cheese.
After doing every step but the fun part of actually cooking it, I am shooed away from the project to make the second batch of bloody marys. Working on instinct, we guess that “Chilis and Peppers” will be less spicy than “Extra Horseradish”, so that one comes next.
I mean, they're KINDA different.
I smell the mix itself, a step I did not do for the first one. Despite this, I write down that this batch has a “much more vegetal smell”. I think I do this solely because I enjoy the adjective form of vegetable.
Nancy: I prefer the Bloody Mary when I don’t use the straw. The Straw makes it spicier.
Nathan: WE JUST TALKED ABOUT THIS.
Jon: I’d say this batch is less…bright, I guess. But I don’t know that it’s necessarily hotter.
Nathan: I think it’s a little hotter. And it tastes kind of like if you put in pickled asparagus, and pepperoncinis, but without any of the pickle brine.
Stephen: So, did you change the recipe?
Nathan and I look at him blankly.
Nathan: …yes? That’s kind of the point?
Stephen: No, I mean, did you change the proportions at all. Anything besides the seasoning?
Jon: Oh. No. I’m keeping that consistent.
He moves on, the purpose of his question lost to the ages.
Stephen: Well, I’d say this one is more mild, in terms of herbs and spices.
At this juncture, I took a bite of my meat straw.
What? Yeah, I said it was a bad idea after the first one. But this is the SECOND one. We’re halfway done now, I can afford to lose a half-inch of straw. It tastes like pepperoni stick. I…don’t know what I was expecting.
Mathematically, at this point, we’ve all had one full shot of vodka. I don't know that it's heavily impacting us, but recording this kind of thing is important.
Let's Spice things up for the next test, ey?
As I’m pouring the Extra Horseradish batch’s vodka into the measuring cup, I reflect that I enjoy the way the tomato juice reacts to the alcohol. You can see the intermingling of the viscosities.
Also, it’s worth noting that, due to an idle comment from my mother, she and Nathan have started dismantling our front door. It’s certainly a choice. One likely not helped by the vodka.
This picture was taken too early in the process to show the full dismantling. But it does provide a nice sense of visual distinction.
A minute or so later, I “forget” that I poured in the vodka. Not like “I add a little more to be cheeky”, but rather, I make the batch, I stir it, I pour it into the four glasses, and then suddenly have a half-second of panic that I forgot the vodka, before remembering, “no, I definitely poured it. We wrote a weird thing about viscosity for it.”
Stephen has wandered off, which reminds me that I haven’t seen his cat today. This is both pleasing and worrying. Pleasing because I have a mild allergy to cats that gets worse as I drink, so her not being around is keeping my face from swelling up and my eyes from burning. Worrying because she had a trip or two to the vet earlier this week, and I would hate to learn something’s happened to her while I wasn’t paying attention.
IF that seems like a complicated thought to have during a taste-test, it’s because I’m alone. Nate and Mom are still working on the door, and Stephen is gone, so it’s just me and this glass of Bloody Mary.
Hello Spices my old friend.
Honestly, I don’t really notice the Extra Horseradish. It’s just kind of… “colder”? Like, the brightness is turned up, but the rest of the flavors are kind of muted.
Eventually Nate decides he can drink and re-install hard-ware at the same time, and grabs his glass.
Nathan: This one is…kinda gross.
Mother: It doesn’t have the nose burn.
Nathan: Yeah, it’s like, all the bad parts of horseradish, and none of the fun.
I’m somewhat impressed. As noted, this one is just a little bland to me. I am certainly not as against it as they are.
Stephen arrives, and complains that his glass is too full. I explain I accidentally put a little too much ice. He takes a pull.
Stephen: I don’t taste any horseradish.
Nancy: I think I prefer Chilis and Peppers.
Within short order, we’re agreed: of the three we’ve had, this is definitely the weakest. Stephen, not wishing to be left behind because Mother announced her favorite, says he liked Classic the best.
At this point, the taste test kind of dissolves for a time. My mother and Nate work on the front door, a job that only two people can reasonably work on, due to the configuration of our stairs. Stephen descends to his room, and I sit in the living room, playing a puzzle game based on laser beams.
Those few who remember my time as Tech Director for STAGE will well remember my love of Lasers.
It takes about 40 minutes before we re-group for the final flavor: Chipotle Habanero. I didn't take a picture of it. Because I was busy with lasers.
Nathan is the first to drink.
Nathan: This is noticeably hotter.
Jon: Oh, damn. He is not wrong about that!
Nancy: Whoo, Lord! That one is the Spiciest!
Nathan: Oh god, I drank it wrong on the second sip. The burning’s all in the back of my throat now.
Stephen finally appears, and takes his pull.
Nancy: Yeah, this has some kick to it!
Stephen pounds his, in an attempt to minimize the burning?
Stephen: My stomach hurts now.
Our tasting complete, we review notes. By which I mean we keep talking, and I write it down.
Stephen: You know, I think 4 was a good amount of these. I’m pretty Bloody Maryed out right not.
Nathan: I was done at like, 2.5. I only took a couple sips of the last one.
Jon: Alright: thoughts overall? Do we agree that Classic was the best?
Nancy: I preferred Chilis and Peppers.
Nathan: My ranking goes Classic, Chilis and Peppers, Chipotle-Habanero, Extra Horseradish.
Stephen nods in Agreement.
I agree with Nate, though I suspect I rank the Habanero closer to Chilis than he does.
And that’s our tasting! What did we learn? That apparently Bloody Marys drive us to home repair. And, for our money, if you want to make Bloody Marys, Demitri’s Classic Recipe Mix makes pretty damn good ones!
Time for a nap.
NEXT TIME, ON DRAGONBALL Z: JON MAKES NATE A BIRTHDAY PRESENT. MEATY, CRUNCY, AND COOL. MONGOLIAN BEEF BURRITOS.
THURSDAY: I DON’T KNOW YET. DEPENDING ON OUR SCHEDULE, I MIGHT GO TO A LOCAL FOOD FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND, SO MAYBE I’LL COVER THAT. OR SOMETHING.