Vendor Spotlight: Back Pocket Provisions
We love a good Bloody Mary; it’s the perfect drink to sip on while waiting for brunch to arrive! One of our favorites is Back Pocket Provisions, so we caught up with founder and owner Will Gray to learn more about this Virginia-made brand!
How did you get into the Bloody Mary mix business? Tell me about your background.
I’ve been working in food and beverage service and retail since I was 16. I started out stocking shelves in a liquor store in Massachusetts, and have been in a restaurant kitchen, behind the bar, in F&B production, or working on food system advocacy ever since.
Bloody Marys have always been a part of our family gatherings, and my sister and I started working together to bottle our own mixes in 2015. Bloody Marys sit right at the intersection of so many of the things I love: local agriculture, artisan food, mixology, and breakfast.
Tell me about the underlying mission of Back Pocket Provisions.
Our mission is to support small to mid-scale farming in Virginia (and hopefully beyond!) by connecting farmers to the craft cocktail market. We source over ten thousand pounds of fresh tomatoes and other veggies each summer, and as we continue to grow, we look forward to scaling our impact and helping our local food system become more financially viable and environmentally sustainable.
What are some of the farms you work with?
So far this season, we’ve worked primarily with Critzer Family Farm in Afton, Whisper Hill Farm in Scottsville, and SuperFood Farm in Culpeper. We’ve also tried some new (to us) farms this season, including Old Tavern Farm outside Richmond, and Walnut Winds Farm and Spring Garden Organics in Pittsylvania County. It’s been a tough season for tomatoes so far, which we know has made it harder for some of our other farmers. We still have a few more months to go in the season, so here’s hoping those tomatoes will keep going strong.
How does Cavalier Produce help you reach your audience?
We’re brand new to the Cavalier lineup, and excited to connect with new customers. We designed our products with food service in mind, and I think Cavalier will be invaluable in getting us behind the bar at hotels and restaurants throughout Virginia.
Tell me what inspired the Bloody Baja and Bloody Bangkok.
One of my favorite things about Bloody Marys is that it’s the only cocktail I know of that’s mixed using wildly different recipes depending on when you order it. Growing up in New England, it was horseradish and Worcestershire sauce, period. My wife is from Southern Maryland – there, it was clam juice and Old Bay. In some places, celery seed is considered critical; other places, it’s unthinkable. I love that – the idea that a great Bloody Mary is more than a recipe, it’s an expression of culture, of local flavor. When we design recipes, we try to embrace that concept and explore other traditions that we can represent in the glass.
Bloody Baja reflects the flavors of the American Southwest: the fresh, green heat of the chilies playing off the sweetness of the corn juice and the smoke from the cumin. Bloody Bangkok is my personal favorite, because I love how Thai cuisine is all about balancing sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. We try to bring that same balance to our mixes. I know that fish sauce in a Bloody Mary throws some people for a loop, but you don’t know what you’re missing!