Archive of ‘Mix Reviews’ category

Matt and Steve’s Pickled Garnishes

The lovely people at Matt and Steve’s sent me some of their pickled veggies to try after finding me on Instagram. I am very thankful for their generosity, and was very excited to try their wares.

And why is that? Because I love green beans, and pickled green beans may be my favorite Bloody Mary Garnish (well, maybe after bacon).

Matt and Steve’s Extreme Beans

I was sent a jar each of the classic Garlic and Dill Green Beans, Hot & Spicy Green Beans and Garlic and Dill Asparagus as well as a tin of Bloody Mary rim spice. They advertise big beans with a bold taste, which can be used in other dishes beyond just garnishing a cocktail (check out their recipe page for ideas.)

Given that it’s a work day, I did not yet try the rim spice, as I can’t really be day drinking and then going in to the “office”. Instead of a cocktail, I added some veggies to my breakfast on the porch.

Breakfast! Bagel with cream cheese and home grown radish, and Matt and Steve’s veggies.

Starting with the classic Garlic and Dill, the flavor was really fantastic. Sometimes dill can be overwhelming to me, and this is a nice balanced pickling mix. Like I said, I love green beans, and I plant a ton every year. One of the problems with large beans, is they can be tough, so while the beans maintained a good crunch, some were more chewy than others. No fault of Matt and Steve, it can’t be helped!

The Hot & Spicy beans were also nicely garlicky, as well as having a kick to them. Even if you aren’t into super spicy foods like I am, these are a good spice level to be tolerable (just don’t eat too many, the heat does build).

Enter the asparagus. I don’t have a lot of experience with asparagus in any form. I’ve only had it a few times, and I suppose I find it to be a bit similar to green beans, just with a slightly milder flavor. But maybe I’m way off in this assessment, I’ve never had them side by side to compare….until now! The pickled asparagus has the same garlic and dill mix as the green beans, and they were delicious. They stayed crunchy yet tender in the jar, and were probably my favorite of the 3. I guess I’m a pickled asparagus convert! And they are available in the Hot & Spicy version too. Yum!

Extreme Bean and Asparagoos

If you are in Canada, like Matt and Steve they also have regular cucumber pickles and canned Caesars made with Canadian vodka, tomatoes, spices and Extreme Bean brine! Next time I’m allowed in Canada (go away Covid!) I’ll have to look for some Caesars to take home.

Thank you again Matt and Steve! (If you missed it, I was sent these products, but these opinions are my own.)

Amazing Hazel’s

Happy New Year! My resolution? To be better about writing blog posts. Will I succeed? Does anyone succeed in their resolutions? But I will certainly try!

I feel reaaaaaal bad about this post, because the fine folks at Amazing Hazel’s sent me their Bloody Mary Mix to try back in….oh…. June? And I had every intention of being timely, it just didn’t happen. There were many weekends where I thought, I need to try this mix, Sunday I’m going to sit on the porch, in the sun, and drink a bloody mary. And Sunday came and went until the next Sunday when I thought about it again. And then it was snowing. Where did the time go?!? And now it’s 2020!

And for 2020 I had a brilliant idea: taking the mix to a New Years Eve party! I am so smart.

As an aside, I absolutely love that this was a genuine mistake in the show and they left it in

As some may know, I work overnights. So when I say New Years Eve party, it was more like an early morning New Years Day party. Whatever works, right? So that said, I did not take any pictures of my gorgeous bloody mary, with pepperocini and cheese sticks, cocktail pickles and a stromboli for garnishes. You’ll just have to imagine the beauty while I use some product photos from Amazing Hazel’s.

I don’t know who Hazel is but I hear she’s amazing!

Amazing Hazel’s is an Indiana based small batch sauce company who makes this mix as well as a chili sauce, all based on Amazing Hazel’s recipes that were passed down through the family since the early 1900s. The sauce and Bloody mix are made in small batches by 2 people. That’s right, they have a whole TWO employees! 2 people making all this good-ness!

So let’s get down to it. The initial smell of the mix leans towards the Mexican side of things, with a hint of cumin and onions. The flavor is strong on the tomato, which is always what *I* initially want from my Bloody Mary. If you were scared from how I started that the mix would taste like salsa, don’t worry, it doesn’t. It’s got a nice sweetness that is not overbearing but makes you think of backyard grown fresh tomatoes, and a hint of ginger. The list of ingredients are all healthy real food items like tomatoes and peppers and onions, with no preservatives or fillers, and it is vegan and gluten free.

Amazing Hazel’s new easy pour bottle

The Amazing Hazel folks (the 2 of them) recommend tasting the mix first, before you add any vodka and embellishments, so you can really taste what they have made, which is what I did. My personal opinion, it was a bit too thick for my liking. They make it thicker on purpose so it doesn’t get too diluted once you add your alcohol and ice, but I found I needed to add some water at the end to make it a consistency that I preferred. No big deal, it didn’t effect the flavor at all. There are a lot of floaties in it, so if that is bothersome to you, I still recommend giving this mix a shot and just running it through a strainer. It’s got a great balanced taste that was really delicious.

If you are in the Indianapolis area, you can pick up their products at various stores and fairs, or you can buy online. They have full size bottles as shown above, as well as smaller “sample” bottles and the famous chili sauce (which also sounds amazing). By the looks of their Instagram, they seem to be expanding to spice mixes as well, but they aren’t on offer on their website. Check ’em out!


(If you missed it above, I mentioned that they sent me this mix. But the opinions in this post are my own etc etc etc.)

On the Go Spice Mixes

Ever go somewhere and order a bloody mary only to find it extremely disappointing? Think airplanes, or a crummy bar who thinks a bloody is just plain tomato juice and vodka? Did your mother-in-law plop down some tomato juice for you, and you need to secretly spice it up from your pocket flask to get through Christmas? Or do you have an empty fridge, save for tomato juice and vodka, and really want a good bloody mary? Well have no fear, there are now several companies popping up to correct this problem!

To Go Mixes!

While these two companies might be competing for the market, I will not be pitting them against each other in a battle royale in this post. I’m just going to review them as normal. That said, I received both these samples for free, but in no way does that influence my opinion. Instructions are simple, just pour your juice and vodka in a glass, add the spice mixture and stir.

I’m going to start with Chet’s – The Original Bloody Mary Anytime Bloody Mary Seasoning Mix, since I received that one first….back in September…and I’m just trying it now because, well, I suck.

But this mix doesn’t suck! Packaged in a wallet sized packet, Chet’s includes celery salt, Worcestershire Sauce, distilled vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, paprika, sumac salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, horseradish powder and parsley flakes. There is a lot of spice packed in that little portable package, and you can see the red pepper flakes. There is no suggested drink size on the package, but I was using those little cans of tomato juice, that are 5.5 oz and it was way too much mix for that little can. I added a 2nd can, which maybe made it a little too weak, so go with 8oz. The main flavors come from the cayenne pepper and hot pepper flakes, with a tad of celery salt, but it was not overwhelmingly spicy to me. It has a good amount of spice for those who want some heat, but aren’t like me, who could actually use more. Overall the flavor is good, and it makes for a definite improvement to those crummy bloodies you’re trying to avoid. You can buy Chet’s on his website, available in small portable packets, and in a bulk tin for your home bar set up.

Next up, Devil Dave’s Bloody Mary Sticks. Packaged in a long narrow “stick”, Devil Dave’s includes real shaved horseradish, Worcestershire, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, lime, and spices. It is certified vegan and gluten free, if you’re into that stuff. Instructions suggest mixing the packet with 10oz of juice, and add vodka plus whatever garnishes you want. The mix is left more neutral in the heat department so it will appeal to everyone, and you can always add in more of your own preferred hot sauce. I thought I tasted celery salt, but it’s not listed in the ingredients (Owner Ryan commented below that the samples are prototypes and when it goes into full production the complete ingredient list will be on the package, and that it does include celery salt). It’s got a really great balance of flavors, with no one taste overpowering the others, and like Chet’s, it’ll improve any bloody mary you get served.

Devil Dave’s is not yet available for purchase, as he is launching a Kickstarter on January 1st – National Bloody Mary Day! Eventually you will be able to get the mix in the portable sticks, or as a speed mix for your home bar. You can currently fill out a form for a free sample, but he got so overwhelmed with requests, he ran out of samples and the next batch won’t ship until April. Don’t let that stop you though! There are contests running on Devil Dave’s facebook page and head over to the site to watch for the Kickstarter. It’s worth it!

Nietzsche’s and a mix review

I’ve made it to the last of my back log of drinks!

First up – Nietzche’s. Nietzsche’s is a dive bar and music venue on Allen St in Buffalo. We are frequent visitors on Wednesday nights to hear our friend Kathryn Koch play her music, among other nights for music J likes to hear, as they have live music 365! Kathryn and I joke that we are friends because we hate the same things, but Bloody Marys are one thing we both agree on – they are delicious.

In all our visits to Nietzsche’s I never once thought to order a Bloody. Mostly because they are not the type of bar to make one, and I didn’t think they’d have the ingredients. However on this particular night, someone else at the bar asked for one, and I was amazed to see it was something they could make. That meant I had to have one too.

The other reason I never ordered one is the bartenders. Wednesday nights used to have Nancy behind the bar, and while we loved Nancy, she didn’t seem the type to do much more than pour beers and Jack and Cokes. Then one day Nancy wasn’t there anymore, and Dana took over. Dana is a great bartender, someone could be whipping up $12 craft cocktails full of things you’ve never heard of before, and she could be trusted to make me a good Bloody.

If you turn the lights off in Nietzsche’s it doesn’t get much darker

This pint glass drink, garnished with lemon and lime, was fantastic! She was out of some ingredients, so someone from the bar went across the street to get her some spices. The drink was spicy from Worchestershire, citrus-y, and garlic-y, and Kathryn agreed that it tasted the way a Bloody should taste. Dana said she needed dill, but too much might have ruined it a bit for me. It was a great and unexpected cocktail from a bar not particularly famous for mixed drinks.


We stayed in one night during vacation, and I decided to try the ADK Bloody Mary Tonic that I picked up at the Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest a few months ago. They offer a spicy and regular version, and I tried the spicy this time.

My awesome hand painted Bloody Mary glass!

I realize I did not take notes on the mix, as I thought I’d be able to remember how it was. I didn’t think it would take me this long to get around to writing about it. I’ll leave it at this – it is a decent offering for a jarred mix, but nothing super spectacular. I finally got to try my meat straws too (they work!) along with some bacon and spicy green bean garnish. I didn’t find it all that spicy, so when I had it again a few weeks later I jazzed it up with some other hot sauces from the fridge. Give it a try if you see it in a store.

Mott’s Clamato Bottled Caesars

I mentioned in my last post that I received a 4 pack of Mott’s Clamato Bottled Caesars as a thank you gift, and I was a little scared to try it.

Bottled Caesars!?!?

Bottled Caesars!?!?

Even though I was scared, I really wanted to try it, and the past week or so I really wanted to have a Bloody. I was sick though, stupid summer colds, and not really able to smell or taste anything so I kept putting it off. Well it was my birthday on Tuesday, and after going out for dinner with my parents, and building a fire when J got out of work, it was time to try it.

The contents had settled to the bottom, and assuming it was not carbonated (omg how gross would that be?!) I shook it up real well and gave it a shot. My first thought was, wow, this is overwhelmingly sweet. It was the consistency of fruit juice, no thickness or tomato juice type texture at all, and no spice (they do have a spicy version, but this was not it.) It had a tomato taste, I guess, and it wasn’t clam-y or fishy at all. It was just so sweet. (I’ve only had one other Caesar ever, and I’ve never had Clamato on it’s own so perhaps I am not the best person to judge this beverage).

It was not great. I drank it but…I don’t particularly want to drink the remaining 3. Maybe I’ll mix it with one of the many, many other bottles of regular Bloody mixes I have so it doesn’t go to waste.

Sunday Bloody Mary Sunday – Brunch again?!

Hold the phone! Brunch 2 weeks in a row? Could it be?! Yes! We checked another box off the Buffalo Brunch list and made it to The Lodge to see what they had to offer.


A whole menu of Bloodies! What to choose, what to choose? All their Bloodies are made with their house made mix, but feature different types of vodka (or other alcohol) and garnishes. I started off with the Bakon Mary.

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$7 in a fancy glass, with lemon, lime, olive and house made bacon strip garnish my first thought was “Spicy!”. Even though it was made with Bakon vodka, there wasn’t much bacon flavor to it. You’d never know it was supposed to have bacon flavored vodka in it. The house mix had a nice taste to it, with visible horseradish and little to no pepper. It didn’t have a strong horseradish taste, nor a vinegary taste, like if they used Frank’s Hot Sauce, so I’m not sure where the heat came from. It was a little more liquid than most, but definitely drinkable.

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I gave in and ordered the Jalapeno Mary toward the end of our meal. They replaced the bacon with a slice of jalapeno pepper, and the Bakon vodka with Stoli Hot Pepper, and this time you could taste it. It was definitely spicier than the first, with a strong jalapeno taste, and a hint of celery aftertaste that wasn’t evident in the Bakon Mary.

The drinks were good, but they weren’t spectacular. They get points for offering a menu of several types of Bloody Marys. If we return at some point, I’d stick with the Jalapeno Mary over the Bakon.

To eat, J ordered their Huervo Ranchero (spelled wrong surely), which looked really nice and tasted good too. I ordered the Chicken and Biscuit. It looked really good, and it tasted good, but the chicken was super, super tough, so it was unsatisfying. I should have stuck with one of the more regular breakfast offerings.


It was a beautiful day out, so we sat on the porch for a while soaking up some sun. J made me another Bloody from one of the many mixes we still have – McClure’s.


McClure’s is primarily a pickle company and boy does it show. Their mix, in this case the regular mix, is overwhelmingly pickle flavored. The mix is full of dill and chunks of something, probably garlic. At least I hope it was garlic. I bit into one and it was a little strange. I usually don’t mind a bit of pickle juice in my Bloody, it gives it some complexity but this was just too much. It’s like drinking the brine out of an empty jar of pickles. J had made the drink using Bakon vodka, and it still didn’t have a bacon-y taste. I’ve never tried the vodka straight, maybe it’s not supposed to be strong *shrug*. However, I don’t really see the point if it’s not strong. Somewhat unfortunately J had to buy 6 jars of McClure’s mix, so I have A LOT to consume. It’s going to have to get cut with something, maybe plain tomato juice, to lower the pickle content. If I can successfully cut it, it’ll be good.

Mix Review – Fat and Juicy

I’m so bummed. Today was the Brooklyn Bloody Mary Fest, and I was not there. I really wanted to go when I first heard about it last year, but my job makes us choose our vacation time in November for the following year, and no date for the fest had been chosen yet when I was forced to pick my dates. Boo! Now I’m fantasizing about creating a Buffalo Bloody Mary Fest.

I also found out about “Embrace the Brunch”, a fundraiser for Embrace WNY, where various local restaurants donate a portion of their brunch proceeds to the organization. This weekend was Merge’s turn, but since I still can’t find anyone to go to brunch with me, I didn’t make it. I do a lot of things alone, but I feel like brunch alone would be the ultimate in sadness.

So much yumminess missed this weekend. I had to take things into my own hands.


I had to make my own. Since it was already in the fridge I decided to try out the Fat and Juicy mix that I had bought at Aldi, of all places, for $4.99. I garnished the special Buffalo skyline glass with 3 strips of bacon, 3 spicy green beans and a sriracha salt rim. The mix was very basic, tomato juice with a whole lot of pepper and a hint of celery. There was virtually no heat to it, and what was there might have come off the green beans. Meh, it’s a big pass. Perhaps it could be spruced up with my own ingredients. It looked nice, at least. (And it was our first nice day, so I got to sit on the porch and enjoy it, and then eavesdrop on my neighbors who were fighting ha!)

Mix Review – Lava

I’m so excited. I was contacted by the CEO of Lava Bloody Mary Mix, offering to send me some of their mix to try! It arrived on Tuesday and was waiting for the weekend to give it a try. I had to bump it ahead of all those other mixes, or it would be forever until I got to sample it. I felt it was only right to taste it in a timely manner.

Lava, dubbed the world’s best Bloody Mary mix, is made from San Marzano tomatoes – said to be the best tomatoes in the world. (I tried to grow San Marzano tomatoes in my garden last year, and it didn’t go well. But I don’t blame them, none of my tomatoes grew well last year, tons of issues, ugh.) Handcrafted in small batches from a family recipe that has been refined over generations, Lava is non-GMO and gluten-free.

A 32oz bottle is listed at $14.95 on their website, so it’s a bit more expensive than your typical mixes. Is it worth it?


Well first of all, it comes in that fancy box. It’s really slick looking, but if it was on a shelf in a store, I’m not sure I’d know it was a bloody mary mix.

Secondly, and most importantly, this is one good mix. It just tastes fresh. It doesn’t taste fake or chemically at all, which is nice in a bottled mix. It’s a tad sweet, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be spicy, despite the lava name, but it definitely is. You can see pepper visible in it, but it’s spiced with something else too, without any vinegar taste like you get from Frank’s hot sauce and other hot sauces. The spice lingers on your tongue, which is always a plus. It’s got a great liquidity, and if you’ve been paying attention to this website, you’ll know I can’t stand super thick chewy mixes. You can tell it’s not mass-produced, as the mix still has little traces of tomato pulp (for lack of a better word). It’s not pureed beyond recognition so it feels like it’s something you just made up in the blender for a special brunch. It’s really very nice, and I’d say worth the price. I would definitely buy it.

(I feel like I need to put in a disclaimer. They did send me a bottle to try, but I was not compensated for my review, and if it sucked, I’d say it sucked. It really is delicious.)

I’m back on my “special assignment” with the normal schedule so I have 9 more chances to get someone to go to brunch with me (since it’s definitely not happening this weekend, it’s St Patrick’s Day in Buffalo tomorrow!) Anyone, anyone? Bueller?

Mix Review – Burning Asphalt

This weekend was supposed to be my last weekend off, while I was on “special assignment” at work. I had hoped someone would want to do brunch with me while I had weekends off so I could have some Bloodies, however it never happened. Well the good news is, in 2 weeks, I’m going back on “special assignment” for 10 more weeks. That’s 10 more chances to find someone, anyone, to go to brunch with me!

Another thing I had been meaning to do while I was off was to finally try all the different mixes I have picked up over the months. I always seemed to end up with a headache every Saturday night though, so I’d pass every weekend.


My lovely selection of mixes, minus a few variations that J still has at his house. From left to right, The Murph’s, Master of Mixes 5 Pepper, Bloody Bold, Fat and Juicy (from Aldi!), McClure’s and Burning Asphalt. I also have a set of spices J got me for Christmas that you mix into tomato juice to try sometime.

Decisions, decisions, which one to try. I’ll go with Burning Asphalt, again. I have had this mix for about a year and a half now, and I did try it after I bought it. I was really excited when I bought it, because this local brand (really just a guy who makes sauces) makes really great spicy condiments, like habenero ketchup, and spicy hot pepper spread etc. He sets up his goods at various festivals and events around the Buffalo area, and I picked up the mix at Live at Larkin. It was a funny exchange, as the owner was convinced he recognized me from buying his stuff other places, though it had been years since I did. He was so convinced that he knew me, he wrote his phone number on the bottle, and offered to personally deliver me orders of more Bloody Mary mix if I liked it. Was that weird?

Burning Asphalt

Here it is! Shockingly, this is my first bloody mary I’ve ever made myself! When I’ve had them at home, J usually makes it for me. Burning Asphalt mix, sriracha salt rim, Deb’s Delights spicy green beans garnish, and a genuine artisanal Buffalo icicle, broken off my back porch.

I was hoping things would be different this time when I tried it, because I so wanted it to be the best mix ever. But it is just too. damn. thick. It’s like drinking spaghetti sauce, or ketchup. It does have a great taste, strong full tomato flavor. A nice, not overwhelming spice level from habanero peppers and a tiny tang of horseradish that doesn’t hit you until after you swallow. It could be a bit spicier in my opinion, but it’s good. It’s really good. I just can’t get past having to chew it. I’m hoping my giant icicle waters it down enough for it to be palatable. Maybe I’ll cook with it, cuz I can’t let it go to waste!

Deb’s Delights is another great local brand, that cans different kinds of jams, jellies, pickles, garlic, beans, etc. The spicy pickles and spicy beans are a-mazing! Woo doggy they are hot. I had to let my taste buds cool off before I tasted my drink. They used to only be available at various events and festivals too, but Wegmans started stocking them recently, score!