John Aquino is a native Charlestonian and the creative founder of Natural Blonde Bloody Mary. After traveling around the country as a mixologist, he decided to return to Charleston to continue his bartending career. John has made quite a name for himself, winning 5-Bacardi Mojito Challenges and competing in the Cabana Cachaca world finals in Rio de Janeiro. He was one of the 14 mixologists asked to compete in the “Bloody Mary Throw Down” at the Official Bridge Run After Party of 2012, and it was there that he debuted the prototype of what was to become Natural Blonde Bloody Mary. He wanted to create something new, light, and refreshing; remembering a Yellow Tomato Gazpacho he once had at Hank’s Seafood, made by Executive Chef Frank McMahon, and using that as his inspiration, he created his unique mix.
After winning the Bloody Mary competition, and after many requests for his recipe, Aquino decided to create a marketable mix for retail sale in local stores. Since his mix uses fresh tomatoes (as opposed to canned or even paste, as the majority of retail mixes do), he had to experiment with multiple types of yellow tomatoes to find the right balance of acidity, water content, and flavor. After two years of testing, he finally reached his favorites when he came upon the Valencia Gold and Carolina Gold Tomatoes, which he sources locally. Wanting to add to the flavor, with the help of some chef friends, he created a green hot sauce as well as a sweet-hot pickle juice, and with a few more ingredients, a final mix was created.
GSN’s Thoughts: Everything tastes fresh, fresh, fresh, as if made minutes before. Initially tart with bright vinegar and tangy with juicy tomato, the mix goes through several stages of flavor. Nicely balanced, the jalapeno adds a friendly warmth to the blend. Lastly, some of the spices come through adding a lot of top notes and savory characteristics. As if all of that weren’t enough, we absolutely love the color of the tomato puree. This is a mix that joyfully pops out of the glass. Having tasted dozens of Bloody Mary mixes over the years, this one is our favorite. Highly recommended!
GSN Rating: A+
For more information go to: Natural Blonde Bloody Mary