Wife, mother, sister, philanthropist, and now Catherine Stiles can add Bloody Mary extraordinaire to the list. Stiles has created Barbecue Wife, a “junk free”, gluten-free, vegetarian-friendly Bloody Mary mix that will make your mouth water the moment you see the attractive bottle.
Her husband Shane opened up Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, a craft style barbecue restaurant here in Austin, almost four years ago. Their signature barbecue sauce is identified as a Central Texas style of sauce. “In Central Texas they use what’s called a mop sauce. It’s not overpowering, and it’s meant to compliment the meat. When I started playing around with his sauce infused into my homemade Bloody Mary mix recipe, it was a perfect compliment to the bold flavors I love in a good Bloody Mary.”
Stiles has always made her own Bloody Mary mix at home. “I’m a huge Bloody Mary fan. When I first started playing around with the barbecue sauce infused into the mix recipe, I had to do a lot tweaking and playing so I could make it on a larger scale and bottle it.”
The mix is “Junk Free.” There are no added preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, and no MSG, which you find in a lot of bottled mixes.” I had to play around for a bit to make sure I kept the same level of high integrity for the ingredients used in my kitchen at home to when I bottled it and shared it on a larger scale. I also infused the barbecue sauce and wanted to keep that Central Texas Barbecue feel to it. I use a high-grade sea salt and smoked black pepper, so you’ll taste some of the smokiness. I’m really trying to make it different than the traditional Bloody Mary.”
With her background in the health food business, she knows it’s possible to make good food and real food without all the preservatives we see so much of today. “It’s a more expensive process to do it [my way]. I tell people this isn’t going to be the cheapest mix on the market, and it’s not intended to be. There’s nothing cheaply done about it.”
If you want a local, handmade mix, this is the one. Stiles and her team hand-pour and hand-label each bottle in her commercial kitchen. “There are so many different flavors and recipes combined inside the bottle. I make my own Worcestershire sauce, the Stiles Switch barbecue sauce that’s infused inside, the base of the mix, and the hand mixed spice blend, and then finally it’s all blended into one great Bloody Mary Mix. Stiles says it’s a lot of work, but people seem to be responding and tasting the difference.
Not only is the inside filled with everything delightful and more, Catherine partnered with well-known Austin artist, Gary Dorsey, who did the artwork for the bottle. “We put as much time into the actual package as we did inside of the mix.” Stiles’ inspiration comes from the barbecue community and Austin. She’s contacted weekly by women who tell her they’re “barbecue wives” as well.
People have been cooking with Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix too. “I didn’t set out for anyone to use it as a cooking helper, but a lot of people have been using it as a marinade. It’s great on chicken, and I even had a guy that shared his recipe with me for Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary deviled eggs! There’s some funny things that are popping up, but I didn’t really know what would happen.”
Catherine also has a local community impact campaign she started through her “Drink Good. Do Good” pledge tied to each bottle sold. The pledge supports various local charitable causes that are near and dear to her. “I’ve been fortunate in my life to have been able to do some big things in my past career, and now being able to give back in an impactful way is a extremely rewarding. Keeping it local is very important to me as well. There are a lot of charitable gives that are tied to products and you don’t really know where the funds go. What I really want to do with “Drink Good. Do Good.” is highlight where the money is going and also put a spotlight on some of the local organizations here that people might not be too familiar with. It’s a fun way to discover people making a big impact in our community!” You can check out our website to learn more about the “Drink Good. Do Good.” efforts.
As for what type of vodka you should use? Stiles suggests premium vodkas. There’s no need for cheap vodka. You can also mix Barbecue Wife with tequila and make a Bloody Maria! Everything you need to make a Bloody Mary is already in the Barbecue Wife mix, including the fresh lime and lemon juice. “This is a fun adventure for me. I didn’t go into this going, ‘Oh, I want to be in a thousand retail locations.’ I enjoy Bloody Marys, and I enjoy the amazing barbecue community that has embraced my family and I love to entertain. The Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix is really a reflection of all of that.”
Hungry yet? Writing this article had me craving barbecue and a Bloody Mary! If you’re interested in purchasing a bottle of Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix, you can find the mix at all five Royal Blue Grocery locations, Triangle Spirits, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, and Twin Liquors here in Austin. In October, Barbecue Wife will be available for purchase on their site BarbecueWife.com.