Friday, 11 January 2013

I love Mary - Tabasco Bloody Mary that is!!

Tabasco and vodka - essentials for a great bloody mary
An invitation popped into my e-mail inbox recently which really took my interest.  The McIlhenny British Bloody Mary Competition and Awards taking place at Bar Americain near Piccadilly Circus in London.  The competition and awards were sponsored by McIlhenny the makers of the iconic Tabasco sauce produced only in Louisiana USA.

First three contestants ready to go
There were 10 contestants and in groups of three at a time, they each had to make their own version of a Bloody Mary cocktail but had to include vodka, tomato juice and of course Tabasco.  The guests had the hard task of tasting each version whilst the three judges also tasted and judged according to preset criteria. Then the contestants each had to make a cocktail using the Tabasco sauce but the rest of the ingredients were up to them.  Some of these were a bit way out and not exactly to my taste but after tasting 20 cocktails the event was getting funnier and gigglier with each one.

Contestant No 2!
 I am always fascinated by the guest list of these events and this was no exception.  There were staff from the PR Agency organising the event there to see it all ran smoothly, another dozen guests known by the agency staff, two food bloggers (including myself) and a hand full of celebrities.

A few well known faces!
I don't know if it was the vodka or the relaxed and fun atmosphere of the competition but the celebrities were having a good time and mixed with all the other guests. There were a few faces I recognised but didn't know the names and some that I did. I was sitting at a table with Craig Revel Horwood of Strickly Come Dancing and a friend of his and 20 cocktails to taste later we were having fits of the giggles big time!!

Trying to remember which number we were up to got more difficult as the event wore on!
But seriously, since 1868 Tabasco sauce has been made on Avery Island in Lousianna, USA by the McIlhenny family. It is made in a modern day factory with all mod cons but it started because the diet of the South was bland and monotonous in the 1860s. So after being given some hot pepper seeds and growing them successfully Edmund McIlhenny decided to create a pepper sauce to give the food some spice and flavor — some excitement! There are newer versions available from time to time such as the original red sauce, green jalapeno, chipotle with a rich smoky flavour but not too hot and not here from the US yet a Buffalo sauce, habanero and garlic and herb sauce and believe it or not in America it even comes in gallon jugs!!

I used to be afraid of adding Tabasco sauce to my creations but since the competition I have been adding a few drops to almost everything! Next time I visit the States I might have to buy a gallon!!

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