**PSA on 4/26/17: The Real Dill is hosting a 5-Year Anniversary Party next Friday at The Dillery on Cinco de Mayo!**
This post was originally published on March 6, 2015.
The freshness of ingredients is key to any great cocktail or dish and The Real Dill is surely aware of this. The Real Dill is a pickle company in Denver, Colorado that has been pickling cucumbers with much finesse since May 2012 and, as of May 2013, has been creating a much sought-after Bloody Mary mix. One day a few months back, I saw a jar of their Caraway Garlic Dills sitting in my boyfriend’s refrigerator and knew I had to try them. YUM! I am a big fan of pickles and love the kinds that still keep a bit of their “cucumber” to them, which The Real Dill does in my book. Anyways, upon first sight of the pickle jar, I researched The Real Dill and found out two awesome things: 1.) they make a Bloody Mary mix and 2.) they are located in Denver. What a dream come true for me!
On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to tour their headquarters, aka The Dillery, in the Baker neighborhood of Denver with co-founder Justin Parks. Justin, a super friendly guy with a true knack for entrepreneurship, showed me around the place that just recently became The Real Dill’s home in October 2014. Prior to running business in this location, the company worked quickly and without much space in shared commissary kitchens in an effort to churn out enough pickles and Bloody Mary mix to supply the ever-increasing demand. It’s obvious that the move to this new building has been crucial in providing a larger number of these tasty pickles and Bloody mix to eager customers and businesses. The building also houses 3 other local Colorado food companies, RedCamper (a company that makes liquor-infused jam), Elevation Organic Ketchup, and Backyard Soda Company. Just feeling the community vibes in the place had me in awe- I love all things local, communal, and, yes I’m going to say it, Colorado.
As Justin led me through the facility, we talked about various things ranging from how The Real Dill got started and the history of the company to how they make those damn good pickles and Bloody Mary mix. He told me Monday is prep day, when all of the fresh ingredients are chopped and prepared for crafting during the rest of the week. Something about this company that you don’t often find nowadays in the food industry: Every ingredient is hand chopped and placed into the jars. This is true craftsmanship and love for the product you’re creating. As two batches of pickles are made Monday through Thursday, making the Bloody mix is saved for everyone’s favorite weekday: FRIDAY!
The Real Dill has a few different kinds of pickles and one of these types actually inspired the Bloody Mary mix: the Habanero Horseradish Dills. Justin shared with me that, prior to creation of the actual Bloody Mary mix, he and co-founder Tyler DuBois, shared a Bloody Mary recipe at all of their farmers’ market stands that included the addition of the Habanero Horseradish pickle brine and several other ingredients found in the pickle jars. Customers continuously came back with raving reviews and told the guys, "You gotta create your own Bloody Mary mix!" Alas, May 2013 rolled around and a new product had been stocked on the shelves– The Real Dill’s own Bloody Mary Mix. Although they are primarily a pickle company, the Bloody Mary Mix is now The Real Dill’s best seller and is featured at more than 20 restaurants. I was fortunate to receive some samples of the Bloody Mary Mix and the Habanero Horseradish Dills on Wednesday. My notes regarding The Real Dill’s Bloody Mary Mix are below.
Fresh cucumber water, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, fresh dill, fresh horseradish, fresh habanero, spices, fresh garlic
A key point I took away from my meeting with Justin is the principle of reuse. Before the Bloody Mary mix become a core product, The Real Dill had lots of leftover cucumber water and nothing to do with it. Now, this cucumber water is the base of their mix. Also, the company reuses the vinegar bottles (from the vinegar used to make the pickles and mix) as containers for their mix that go out in bulk to restaurants. This shows dedication to waste reduction, something that makes me value some companies over others and is a lesson that can be taught to less environmentally-conscious enterprises.
WHAT MAKES THE REAL DILL'S MIX DIFFERENT
The Real Dill’s mix uses organic tomato paste as a base ingredient versus tomato puree (which a lot of companies use as a base), which adds for a fresher flavor. ALL of the ingredients used in The Real Dill’s mix are fresh and there are no sketchy additives. I don’t know if any of you have looked at the actual ingredient lists on Bloody Mary mixes sold in stores, but a lot of them have high fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, and a bunch of other questionable unnatural stuff listed as ingredients. Thus, many Bloody Mary mixes found in stores can have a “sugary” taste from artificial sweeteners– The Real Dill is not one of them. Most mixes do not have horseradish or dill in them, either; you usually have to add these ingredients yourself.
FROM THE LOOKS OF IT
When looking at a jar of The Real Dill’s Bloody Mary Mix, you can clearly see lots and lots of spices dispersed throughout, along with the fresh dill, horseradish, habanero, and garlic. This is good, very good. You never want to buy a Bloody Mary mix that looks like straight sugary tomato juice 😉
I did a taste test of the mix sans alcohol for starters. I liked how the taste of the tomato paste was much subtler than using the sweeter alternative, tomato juice. All of the spices tasted great throughout; you could really pick out each individual flavor. I enjoyed the thickness of the mix and how it had sustenance. I think the cucumber water base had a lot to do with how refreshing the mix tasted. The only con I found during the taste test was the intensity of the habanero. While I enjoy things super spicy, those faint of heart may not enjoy the subtle burn that goes with ingesting anything habanero.
THE BLOODY MARIA
I made a Bloody Maria with The Real Dill’s mix. Although I have never had a Bloody Maria before, Justin said his favorite liquor to pair with the mix is indeed our Mexican go-to. So I gave it a shot (I’m punny, aren’t I?). In addition to the tequila, Bloody mix, and ice, I also tossed in some pickle brine from the Habanero Horseradish Dills, some dashes of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, a few dashes of Voodoo Freak Show Hot Sauce, black pepper, rimmed the glass with celery salt, and garnished the cocktail with olives, a pepperoncini, a slice of salami, and a Habanero Horseradish Dill. Besides being stranger to the whole tequila and tomato thing, the flavors complimented each other well. The taste was bold and unique, while the fresh habanero amped up the spice levels of the drink. Each sip was followed by a subsequent tang and the linger of pepper within my mouth– a great way to clear your sinuses. I loved the consistency of the Bloody Maria and felt like I was drinking a meal in itself, chunks of fresh ingredients included. This is something I really pride when drinking a Bloody– the ability to be filling, but also smooth, refreshing, and boozy at the same time.
SO HOW WAS IT?
Really, really awesome. And no, not just because I received a free sample. This mix is a game changer and I would recommend it to everyone who can put a little spice in their step. If you can’t handle the heat, then this mix may not be for you.
Check out The Real Dill’s website here, where you can find information about all of their products, fun recipes, and much more.