Recommended: Charleston Bold & Spicy Bloody Mary Mix


[Photograph: Jed Portman]

That Charleston Bold & Spicy Bloody Mary Mix is more complex than your typical Bloody Mary mixer is evident from the list of ingredients on the bottle. A conventional base of water, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce meanders on to apple cider vinegar, roasted vegetables, roasted beef, anchovies, habanero peppers, and other seasonings numerous enough that I won't list them here.

A sip is as crowded, flavor-wise, as the ingredient list. Layers of tangy tomato, vinegar, celery, onion, and chile finish with a black-pepper blast that befits the mixture's gritty texture. This stuff is certainly, as the bottle promises, bold and spicy—like tomato soup, salsa, and Carolina vinegar sauce blended.

That's why I wouldn't ever drink it with anything more than vodka and ice. Boy, is it good with vodka and ice. Because the mix is made from all things hearty, vegetable and meat, it warms a cold glass of white liquor like the savory half of a Bloody Mary should.

So many Bloody Mary mixes taste too salty, or artificial. It's enough to make a person want to go homemade. There's nothing wrong with that—it was through amateur experimentation, in fact, that Charleston Mix founder Ryan Eleuteri developed the recipe that would evolve into his product—but if you're too busy, or too hungover, the Charleston Bold & Spicy Bloody Mary Mix is worth having in your cabinet. It tastes fresh, balances strong flavors well, and is made right here in Charleston, South Carolina.

Also: If bold flavors aren't for you, plain ol' Charleston Mix, made by the same people, is a mellower older brother to the Bold & Spicy that's equally well-mixed.