Bruce Julian’s Bloody Mary

Bruce Julian
Bruce Julian

Some add hot and spicy ingredients, while others add lemon juice, but celery stick as a garnish is guaranteed. Legend says the celery stick was added because the bartender ran out of swizzle sticks to stir the drinks. Needless to say, the Bloody Mary and all of its mystical hangover curing powers became the cocktail of breakfast and brunch.  

Tomato juice cocktail was often served as a first course at fancier restaurants.   Once vodka was brought to America and added to tomato juice, the art of perfecting began.  Credit is given to George Jessel for having invented the Bloody Mary, but Pete Petoit is the gentleman who popularized the drink and jazzed it up.  As head bartender at the King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel, Petoit served celebrities daily.  In 1934 he was asked by Serge Oblensky, a Russian, to make a special drink with tomato juice and vodka. Petoit spiced it up with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, some Worcestershire sauce, and lemon starting mankind’s love affair with the Bloody Mary cocktail.

Fast forward eighty years and the Bloody Mary cocktail is still being perfected by connoisseurs.  Bevs and Bites, LLC located in Charlotte, North Carolina was started by Bruce and Bonnie Julian and Paul Raybin in January 2014.  “That’s when the reformulation started.”  They make an all-natural Bruce Julian Bloody Mary Mix, a concoction that was worked on for many years well before selling it.  “Bruce spent ten years talking to every bartender he met from New Orleans to Montreal about their technique and ingredients and from those conversations and his natural curiosity, he pieced together his own unique recipe.”

Bruce is a native of Chapel Hill and a second generation haberdasher. His father Milton Julian is the legendary men’s clothier whose family ran Milton’s, a men’s clothing retailer. He is also considered responsible for having brought the “Oxford button-down shirt and khaki look to the South”.  Milton is the face of Bruce Julian Bloody Mary Mix, a dapper man posing in a rowboat, circa 1938.  With hair parted down the middle, wearing a tailored suit, red bow tie, and a handsome smile to match, it’s hard to pass up a mix that represents everything the dapper Milton was: elegant, charming and stylish.  “With Milton’s recent passing at age 96, he remains an inspiration through his integrity, love of life, and sense of style and lives on in Bruce, our products, and in how we view business and the world.”

Bruce first started serving the Bloody Mary mix15 years ago in his clothier shop (Bruce Julian Clothier located on Selwyn Avenue) after he put in an Old English Bar.  He used to “make gallons of the mix for Steve and Candy Blume who served it to friends at the Charlotte’s Queen’s Cup Steeplechase.” They kept saying “Y’all gotta sell this stuff.”  Another one of their biggest fans, Gene Morris, also egged them on.  The truth is, the mix is close to perfection, and even those who never liked the Bloody Mary suddenly become “fans.”

Bloody Mary Mix
Bloody Mary Mix

The mix is all natural with fresh quality ingredients, low in sodium, no preservatives, no MSG, no Red dye 40, no artificial flavors or colors, and no artificial sweeteners. “We’re juicier, not thick, so it’s easier to drink.  Heck, we want folks to drink more than one!” The Bruce Julian line is expanding little by little.  “We have an all-natural Bloody Mary Rimmer/Seasoning to rim the glass (one client even adds the seasoning to popcorn), all-natural Gourmet Bites: Sassy Okra, Sassy Beans, and Sassy Spears, and we have our all-natural Picante Pepper, a fabulous blend of habanero and sweet red peppers with a medium heat and fresh pepper flavor.”

With products currently available in eleven states, the Bruce Julian Bloody Mary Mix has taken off.  “When our NY rep Audrey called on the iconic NYC restaurant Balthazar, last  October, the Chef and Bar Manager tasted our mix. They dropped their mix of ten years and ordered 40 gallons of ours.  They’ve been a weekly customer ever since; they serve over 500 Bloody Mary’s a week. The newly opened Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in New York has made us their exclusive Bloody Mary Mix too. They serve Bloody Marys in the club, restaurant, and bar cart using Sassy Veggies for garnish and bar snacks.  We’ve had validations like these repeated over and over.”

It’s huge fun selling the product.  Bruce’s background in the clothing business has impacted the brand.  “It all boils down to taste. Bruce brings fun, joy, and verve to everything he does.  Our brand sits on that foundation and is all about being fun and delicious. We have a wonderful group of old friends, new friends, and family that have embraced us and our products.  They’ve become the engine that drives us forward, and we are very grateful.”