When we recently caught up with the Bloody Mary-makin' ladies at Hoosier Momma they were gearing up to throw the first pitch at the Indianapolis Indians game on Mother's Day. How did they prepare? Indy-based founders KC Cranfill and Erin Edds had different strategies. Edds practiced in the front yard with her husband; Cranfill got a fresh manicure - in Indians red, of course.
They've come a long way since they created their first batch of Bloody Mary mix, mixed up and served by Edds on a Saturday morning at the Indy Winter Farmers Market in 2010. Now, they count celebrity chefs like Ted Allen and Art Smith among their admirers, and have converted many brunch and lunch restaurants in Indy and beyond to Momma devotees. Their mixes populate the parties thrown for Indy's many major sporting events. And they've spread out across the country, too: Hoosier Momma distributes in stores and bars across the Midwest and is represented on the East Coast by co-founder Cat Hill, who currently lives in Connecticut.
Not bad for three years in the biz.
So what's the big deal? Anyone can mix tomato juice and vodka, but a real homemade Bloody Mary is a difficult drink to prepare; equal parts smoky and spicy, with exactly the right kind of tomato juice required - and then there's the question of garnishes. It's been called the world's most complex cocktail for a reason.
We much prefer to let the ladies of Hoosier Momma provide an already perfected drink mix. And provide they do: now, Hoosier Momma offers a spicy mix along with the original, and, new this year, two kinds of margarita mixes. And even though you can now find them in a Louisiana Walmart, they're Hoosier to the core - right down to the mix's bottles, which are modeled after the vintage milk bottles enjoyed by winners of the Indy 500. They answered a few questions collectively via e-mail.
NUVO: How is the perfect Bloody Mary prepared?
Mommas: A Bloody Mary is one of the most complex cocktails out there. It plays on all of the five basic tastes: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness and umami. There is no one perfect way to prepare a Bloody Mary. It is all up to the mouth of the drinker.
NUVO: Can you give us a few secrets about the preparation? We want to become cocktail pros.
Mommas: When it comes ingredients, fresh is always best. Always use clean, recently made ice, [because] old ice tends to hold flavors and odors from the freezer. Don't be intimated by the mixology trend; prepare what you know will taste great!
NUVO: Do your mothers love Bloody Marys too?
Mommas: Both our mothers prefer the Original Bloody Mary Maker. Erin and KC both like to drink them "Momma-style." That is 1/2 original mix and 1/2 spicy mix.
NUVO: When's the perfect time and perfect weather to drink a Bloody Mary? What's the perfect venue for a Bloody Mary?
Mommas: On a Sunday afternoon in the low '70s on a deck out by the water. For venues: Tailgating or brunch are great Bloody Mary-drinking venues. We always say that a Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary makes day drinking acceptable.
NUVO: What's the most insane garnish you've seen on a Bloody Mary? The garnish debate can get pretty contentious.
Mommas: We've seen herring, sliders, pickled vegetables, olives, celery and cheese in a Bloody Mary. Our friend Ben of Benny's Bloody Mary Beef Straws makes beef straws (similar to a hollowed-out Slim Jim) for them. They are fun to serve because of the great naughty comments we hear.
NUVO: What's the advantage of being a gluten and vegan product?
Mommas: We are produced at a gluten free facility right here in Indianapolis. By being gluten free and vegan there is nothing in our mixes that limits consumers, it appeals to everyone. The low sodium and low calorie count doesn't hurt either.
NUVO: Did you have to make any adjustments to accomplish this? Was it a goal from the beginning?
Mommas: By using premium ingredients, minimal processing we have been able to avoid the use of unnecessary and inferior ingredients used by many of our competitors.
Momma's philosophy is to offer premium products featuring high-quality ingredients with low sodium and no high-fructose corn syrup. When you taste a Hoosier Momma product, you will experience a clean, fresh taste that makes you believe it was handmade.
NUVO: It's been just over a year since you launched the margarita mix. How many margs have you collectively drank this year?
Mommas: We love doing our margarita "research," so it would be well into the hundreds.
NUVO: How has the year gone? Any surprises?
Mommas: We started the year off with an article in the winter issue of Midwest Living! Our most recent surprise was that Hoosier Momma's margaritas were just nominated in the Best New Product category for the Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans this July.
NUVO: You are three successful women running an independent business. What advice would you give to young women entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Mommas: Don't do things the way they have always been done. Look at things from a different perspective. And don't let anyone tell you it can't be done. Remember: never get too high or get too low. Maintain a steady course.