Hoosier Momma- The Best Bloody Mary Mix in America? I Think So.
I met Erin Edds the eloquent owner of Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary Mixes down at Tales of the Cocktail.
Actually I first met Erin via Twitter. I was investigating the best Bloody Mary mixes as the need for this unique product unfolded. I’ve been writing a column for the Morristown Patch Newspaper on the web. Part of what I do for them is blind critique bars around Morristown, NJ, where I live. I really like to help bars do better- and that means by using better ingredients when crafting their cocktails. My journey brought me to a local pub that serves only a couple Bloody Mary cocktails a week. This has a lot to do with the quality of their Bloody Mary mix. I think they used the bottled product from Tabasco.
I knew of a better product and wanted to introduce the bar to this hand-crafted “made with love” bottled mix.
So, I recommended that the bar manager use a better product– and I suggested that he get in touch with Hoosier Momma through Twitter.
As an avid Twitter user I did a little bit of research. I found Erin and her Hoosier Momma recipe, then set up a meeting through Twitter. Social Media to the rescue! I connected the pub in Morristown with Erin and a new customer was secured.
When I was down in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail- I made it my business to find Erin and introduce myself to her. I could see her smile from across the room. She has that sales driven personality that just draws people into a conversation. And that conversation brings sales.
I think Erin’s product is the best Bloody Mary mix available- anywhere. It’s silky smooth with guts. It’s got real flavor. The quality of her ingredients speak clearly of her passion for culinary stories. The flavor of her potion weaves the magic of flavor with every sip. It’s darned good and I want a drink with it right now!
I also write for Williams-Sonoma on the Blog side. I believe her product like that of my friend Jordan Silbert from Q-Tonic and Q-Ginger should be found on their shelves around the country. Jordan’s is in Williams-Sonoma, so should Erin’s product.
Yes, it’s that good!
Erin was given the opportunity to do a tasting of her Bloody Mary mix at Tales. It was one of the most enthusiastic tastings I attended.
I only see great things in her future. Her husband Stephen works for the company as well. He’s got a handshake of iron and there is real care into the words that he chooses. I’m proud to be their friend.
Cheers to you, Hoosier Momma and here’s a toast to you for your great success! wb
The Five Questions- Hoosier Momma
By Warren Bobrow, Wild Table Editor
WRR: 1. Where are you from? Who taught you about flavor? Your product is delicious- quite possibly the best mix on the market- how did you create it?
I grew up in the Indianapolis suburb of Zionsville. When we moved there in 1979 it was small farming community with a historic brick Main Street famous for its antique shops and Rolls Royce dealership. My parents still live there, and it has since grown to become one of the most popular and affluent northern suburbs while still maintaining its charm and small town feel.
My flavor comes from everything I’ve experience in my life, from my childhood helping my mother to spending 15 years in the restaurant industry and attending culinary school. It allowed me to form my own flavor. I grew up in a house full of flavor. My mom started catering when I was small to supplement my father’s income, while still being able to stay home with her girls. She decorated cakes first, then moved into parties, wedding receptions, and a dinner delivery service. She eventually made a niche for herself in the Orthodox Jewish community and was a well known Kosher caterer until about five years ago. I would help her in the kitchen and when I was old enough, began assisting her in the catering. At the time, it was something I did for extra money, and I in fact fought a career in food from the time I started working, even though I always ended up back in the industry. I moved out to Washington in 1997 and spent 3 years enjoying life and travelling on tour with the band Phish. Even then, I was a bit of an entrepreneur, making and selling clothes in the lot before the shows. When I began working in restaurants, I was always “front of house” and didn’t even cook at home. When I got married in 2003, I began cooking for my husband with all of our new kitchen equipment. I discovered that not only did I really enjoy it, I had a knack for it. My husband, Stephen, kept suggesting that food was my passion and to buy my mother’s catering company, which I laughingly rejected. I wanted nothing to do with it!
Eventually I recognized that I did indeed have a true love of cooking, so I enrolled in culinary school in the fall of 2004. I didn’t graduate, because I frankly couldn’t contemplate taking the required meat fabrication class. The thought of cutting up whole animals was more than I could handle. But the experience gave me an incredible introduction to the culinary arts, and the amazing people who are involved in it. I credit my sister, Katy, with helping me hone and fine tune my craft. She has an incredible pallet, and we spent three years refining recipes and formulas together in our previous business, Country Mouse City Mouse, which specialized in locally sourced, small batch dips, spreads, salad dressings, and compound butters. Being able to create fresh, locally-sourced products, many with no recipes, just an improvisational blank-slate, gave me the confidence to take my creations to the next level.
In January, 2010 we were operating Country Mouse City Mouse on a tiny budget, selling our wares at farmers markets and a handful of retail outlets including our two local Whole Foods. Going on three years of operation, there was definitely a sense that we were ready to do something else, as CMCM was an incredibly labor intensive project, with very small return. We were, to be honest, burnt out. On January 23rd, 2010, I received a phone call that was going to change everything. The night before, the Indianapolis Colts had beaten the NY Jets in the AFC Championship game and were set to play in the Super Bowl in Miami against the New Orleans Saints. The call was from an event planner in NYC who was in the process of sourcing products exclusive to Indianapolis and New Orleans for gift baskets she was putting together for her clients heading to the Super Bowl. She had gotten my name from Maggie Zillenger, a manager at Whole Foods. At that point all of the CMCM products were fresh, refrigerated, and not appropriate for shipping or sitting out in gift baskets. I wasn’t ready to pass up such an amazing opportunity, so I spent the morning brainstorming a product I could make shelf stable that really represented the good stuff Indiana’s know for, like tomatoes. But the idea of pasta sauce or salsa didn’t appeal to me because practically everybody has their own salsa and pasta sauce. I had recently catered an open house for Heartland Distillers, who was the first licensed distillery in Indiana since prohibition, and I had been kicking around the idea of cocktail mixes as a next step.
What would people like in a gift basket to enjoy at a football game? Bloody Marys! I quickly called the planner back, and said I had something that would work, then frantically began working on a formula that afternoon, since it was an exceptionally time sensitive project. The name “Hoosier Momma” came a couple days later as I was working on labels to go onto the quart mason jars I had just filled with my new bloody mary goodness. I kept making my husband taste test the mixes, until finally, he told me, “Honey, I love it. But I’ve only had about 5 Bloody Mary cocktails in my life, I’m not the one to test this.” I got my sister to give me feedback until I got it just right. The name “Hoosier Momma” seemed too good to be available, but I did a quick search and purchased the HoosierMomma.com domain name, printed labels for the jars and shipped them off to New York. I ended up with much more than I needed and sold the extras in 32 ounce deli containers, under the new Hoosier Momma name at the farmers markets to some of my friends and regulars.
The response was overwhelming, and it was an immediate success. I worked on the formula over the next couple of months to make it vegan and gluten-free, and with the encouragement of my family, decided to start this company on my own in addition to CMCM. I found a co-packer and officially launched Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary Maker in May 2010 with an initial run of 30 cases, which seemed like a lot. It took off, and I quickly realized this would be more than I could handle. In July, 2010, I formed an LLC with KC Cranfill and Casey “Cat” Hill, allowing me to focus less on the “business” side of things. We found a larger co-packer, as we had outgrown our original one, and had redesigned our label and packaging. In December, 2010, we signed our first distributing deal Glazer Distributing: Indiana division, and signed on with Southern Wine and Spirits in Kentucky in July. In the first eight months of 2011, we have sold almost 1500 cases in five states, and are in the final stages of signing distribution deals with several more states.
WRR: 2. What is in your refrigerator right now? Freezer? Do you prefer fresh ingredients to “store bought”?
Almost without exception, I prefer fresh ingredients to processed. I prefer local. I prefer seasonal. Based on this, we shop, a lot, and don’t really keep much of a surplus of anything in our house during the summer and fall. We have organic eggs, almond milk, gluten free bread and dairy free cheese. We have jars of homemade salsa from my friend Andrew’s mom’s garden, a frozen chocolate truffle torte my mom made, and a huge bag of assorted frozen peppers from a local farmer. Add some nuts, grains and pasta, and some yummy condiments, and you just about have it. Oh, and I’m a popcorn junkie. I love to pop fresh popcorn on the stove and enjoy it for any meal or snack.
WRR: 3. Who taught you how to cook? Mother? Father? Who is your favorite “Media” Chef?
Again this goes back to my sister, Katy. She and I worked weekly for three years developing our craft. Although, I don’t feel like anyone really taught me how to cook as much as helped me refine my techniques, and not make the same mistakes twice. It used to be a joke in my family that I did not cook. Now, I hope, people look forward to my creations. The switch from cooking food items to cooking cocktail mixers has not been that wide of a stretch. I like to call our mixes “culinary cocktails makers”, and employ spices, herbs and aromatics in everything I do. Cocktails are no exception.
As for my favorite media chef, I absolutely adore Art Smith. Not only is he brilliant, he’s kind, sincere and a huge supporter of small scale producers and farmers. And I love that he still handles his own social media, instead of handing it over to a PR firm.
WRR: 4. Is there anything you have eaten or drink that brings a tear to your eye when you enjoy it? Why?
In 1998 I was living in Tacoma, WA, with my ex-boyfriend, Jeff. One chilly fall day, we drove out to the coast to Westport, WA and swam in the freezing ocean in our clothes. Hungry, wet and cold, we made it down the boardwalk looking for a place to eat. Around the corner we found Sourdough Lil’s, a darling family owned café serving fresh seafood and fresh baked bread. I had seared scallops with a cranberry beurre blanc, sautéed spinach and fresh out of the oven sourdough bread with a compound butter of lemon, chives and sunflower seeds. It was the first time, in my young adult life (at the time I was 23), that I ever had a meal like that, made of such complex flavors and fresh ingredients, and it was forever burnt into my memory. Oh, and Pyramid Apricot Ale.
I get a little misty every time I have one.
WRR: 5. Social media brought us together. Do you use- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn? Please share the links. Do you use a SmartPhone? which one? How much of your business comes off your fabulous website?
I cannot emphasize the importance of social media enough. We have gotten more attention through active use of Facebook and Twitter than any television appearance, or print mention combined. I think people like to feel that there is a “man behind the curtain” and that a brand is not just run by a bunch of guys in suits. I like to maintain a light hearted, but targeted presence in social media, and do my best to avoid doing anything sales pitchy or overly sales focused. It has also allowed me the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other people in the industry, and be a part of an industry we’re just introducing ourselves to in a way that is efficient and relevant, while being very budget minded. If it had not been for social media, I never would have found out about Tales Of The Cocktail, and never would have met you! (Editor’s note: Thanks Erin!)
Our website gets hits from all over the world, and we’ve sold products online to close to 40 states, and Canada! Our website’s online store also allows us to “soft launch” new or limited release products that are not available in stores. Next up are our margarita mixes. Our Strawberry Rhubarbarita will rock your socks!
Thank you Erin- the best of luck to you and your fledgling company! Cheers, wb
Hoosier Momma, LLC
Named one of “People to watch in Local Food in 2011″ by the Indianapolis Star
“Quite simply, the best Bloody Mary mix I’ve ever had!” – This Dish is Vegeterian
Featured in: Gluten-Free Living magazine, Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Monthly
Fox 59 TV, Drinking in America.com, Indy Style TV, Metromix, Los Angeles Examiner
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. In 2010, Bobrow founded “Wild Table” for Wild River Review and serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor, including the Busted Barrel rum produced by New Jersey’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition.
Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He writes the “On Whiskey” column for Okra Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly.
His first book Apothecary Cocktails, was published in September 2013; and immediately went into a second printing. In 2014, he published Whiskey Cocktails. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ, on a Biodynamic farm.
Warren Bobrow in this Edition
COCKTAIL WHISPERER, Editor
Apothecary Cocktails: Mexican Sleep Cure
Billy Reid: Bourbon, Branch and a Splash of Southern Lore
Blue Hill/Stone Barns: Time Exists in Harmony with Nature
The Cocktail Whisperer asks Anthony Bourdain Four Questions about Scotch
The Five Questions: Andrew Bell, American Sommelier
The Five Questions Catherine Reynolds
The Five Questions: Lincoln Henderson (Master Distiller)
The Five Questions: Natalie West (Foppiano Wines)
The Five Questions: Randall Grahm
The Five Questions: Sustainable Sushi
A Glass of Bourbon, Branch, and History
Midnight in the Bronx: Visit to Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange
A Modern Day Absinthe Alchemist
A Summer Cocktail Party for Artie Shaw
Tales of the Cocktail: New Orleans, Louisiana