What do you do when you’re swimming in pickle juice? It’s a predicament Stu Waters found himself in four years ago when he started making and selling pickles.
Luckily, the Stu’s Kitchen founder knew just what to do with the sour brine: mix it with a plethora of spices to create a signature Bloody Mary mix (the perfect complement to his pickles).
“It’s a drink people [don’t] take seriously, and I like that,” said Waters. “I don’t really take a lot [of things] too seriously.”
Well, everything that is except taste. Whether it’s a pickle or a Bloody Mary, Waters likes his flavors to be clean and layered — and to progress with each bite or sip.
“I’m a total acid freak. I love tartness,” Waters said. “I’ve always liked seeing how much flavor you can coax out of simple ingredients.”
Waters first dipped his toe in restaurant work at 14 with a job at McDonald’s before moving onto more upscale establishments in Chicago. He fell in love with the process and opted to go to culinary school to round out his service and hospitality background.
“I come from a DIY family. I think you should be able to make tasty foods simply.”Stu Waters
While there, he fell in love with fermentation and started dabbling in beer, wine, cheese and of course, pickles. For the avid Bloody Mary drinker, the classic morning cocktail was an obvious next step.
Pick your poison when it comes to tomato juice and vodka, and then let Waters do the rest. The pickle juice in his concentrate will clean up your Bloody Mary, and his blend of ingredients lends itself to a taste that builds after the first sip. So much so that Waters has dubbed his customers’ reactions the “three alarm.”
“You watch them, they taste it and then you can count to three and people light up,” Waters said. “If they’re walking away they turn around on that first step and look back like, ‘That’s really good.’ ”
For Waters, it’s all about simplifying the Bloody Mary experience and helping people craft the best drink for their palate.
“I tell people all the time: buy our product, hide it in cupboard and don’t even tell your friends,” Waters said. “Use it to make your best Bloody Mary.”
Your secret is safe with Waters. In fact, he’ll insist you take all the credit for that well-mixed drink in your hand.
The Bloody Mary concentrate from Stu’s Kitchen isn’t just for drinking. It can also be used to flavor meatloaf, hash browns and beef tartare, and to marinade beef jerky.