dog with old bay bloody mary mix bottle and cocktail

Written by: Fritz Hahn, Washington Post

Marylanders love Old Bay Seasoning on everything: crabs, fried chicken, potato chips, fries and corn on the cob. They enjoy it in beer and sprinkled atop caramel corn. And now, for the first time, there’s an official Old Bay bloody mary mix, for when you need a little taste of the Free State on a Sunday morning.

Bartenders around the Chesapeake Bay have been using Old Bay in their house bloody marys for years, but McCormick, the Maryland company that owns Old Bay, had never licensed the Old Bay name or, more importantly, its signature blend of spices, to a bloody mary mix. That changed last November when McCormick approached Greg David, the owner of the award-winning George’s Bloody Mary Mix, about creating an “official” Old Bay-based mix that that would also feature the Old Bay logo on the bottle.

It’s a big honor for George’s, David says. Two decades ago, when he was the weekend brunch bartender at Middleton Tavern in Annapolis, he would fiddle around with different bloody mary recipes. Now, after winning Ocean City’s inaugural Best Bloody Mary Contest and getting his mix into stores across Maryland, George’s is served at the Preakness and at Baltimore Ravens home games.

The challenge with Old Bay, David explains, was finding the right level of spices without “too many competing flavors.” So while George’s best-selling spicy mix is known for the pungent twang of horseradish and heat from a proprietary hot sauce, those have been removed or dialed back in the Old Bay version. The base is still a thick, hefty tomato paste, but celery salt, paprika and black pepper shine through, along with lemon juice. Like powdered Old Bay, the finish is dry, and noticeably salty. The ingredients are natural — no corn syrup or food coloring — and the sauce is gluten-free. However, vegetarians should know that it’s made with Worcestershire sauce, which can contain anchovies.

If you’re from Maryland, a glimpse of the Old Bay logo will probably make you toss a bottle in your shopping cart, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see bottles of the mix at local bars’ and restaurants’ brunches. It can also be used in a number of recipes, including the accompanying crab dip.

$5.99-$6.99, 32 ounces. Available at liquor stores in Maryland; Debuting the first week of May at Harris Teeter stores in Virginia and the District, and Total Wine stores in Virginia. Coming soon to liquor stores in the District through Hop and Wine Beverage.