Welcome to our new series, How It’s Made, where we pull back the curtain on how our gourmet food products are created. This week, Gloria Tai, our food development sourcing manager, shares the story behind Diane’s Bloody Mary Mix Collection, our new garden-fresh Bloody Mary line created in partnership with Diane Mina, wife and partner of Michelin-star chef and restaurateur Michael Mina.
Last summer, the food team met Diane Mina, wife of renowned chef Michael Mina. On top of being passionate, lively, and the type of person who’s so kind you can’t help but love her, she also, it turns out, could make a killer Bloody Mary. And being the charismatic person that she is, Diane offered to come in to the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen to make bloodies for the food team—how could we say no to that?
The entire food team fell in love with Diane and her brunch drinks immediately. In our test kitchen, she took an interesting approach: She had us taste each component of the drink separately, then layered each additional ingredient in to demonstrate how each item added a different layer of complexity. First came juice from tomatoes she’d cultivated in her own garden; she’d tried a multitude of heirloom varieties before settling on the purple-hued Tula for its balance of sweet and savory notes. Next was lovage, a fragrant herb with a flavor reminiscent of celery. Then it was lemon juice for acidity and olive brine for salinity. Finally, she added a splash of Tabasco hot sauce for tiny nudge of heat. The result was mind-blowing. Her Bloody Mary was a lighter, more refreshing take on the heavier, bolder versions we were used to tasting, something we could drink all day—and we knew our customers would feel the same way.
For years, friends looked forward to the Minas’ family gatherings, where Diane’s signature Bloody Maries were ever-present alongside food prepared by her husband, who she lovingly refers to as “Cheffy.” Then her husband began serving them at his tailgate parties before San Francisco 49ers games. Soon, at the chef’s revolving concept, Mina Test Kitchen, Diane began hosting her own Bloody Mary Brunch. That’s when her personal passion project really became a hit with a large audience.
Translating Diane’s recipe into a shelf-stable product required some research. We took a field trip with the Mina family to a tomato farm and processor, and we worked with a local farmer to grow the right varietal to Diane’s specifications. And we were thrilled to learn that we could source lovage, a long-forgotten, hard-to-find herb, directly from Bella Mina, Diane’s own garden.
Once we figured out the sourcing of the ingredients, we tasted through multiple rounds of development. In the first round of development, the hot sauce overwhelmed the other components. In the next round, the blend was cooked so long that the lovage notes became bitter. To maintain the fresh integrity of the Bloody Mary, we tweaked the recipe to cook the tomatoes as little as possible.
The finished product is just as good as that first Bloody Mary that she served to us in the test kitchen. We celebrated the launch of her babies with a crazy fun event at Pebble Beach Food & Wine this past month, where Diane handed out glasses herself to a steady rush of festival-goers who were thirsty for even more. Try adding your go-to spirit to my personal favorite, Dirty Diane’s Jalapeño Bloody Mary Mix. Spiked with chile purée, tart lime juice, honey and cilantro, it has a spicy kick, just like the creator herself.