It’s a cheat, I know, but it’s a quality cheat at that. It’s Cox’s Original Bloody Mary Spicer. I’ve been in and out of bed over the last few days with a boring February sniffle and living off over-spiced Bloody Marys, which I’m really beginning to appreciate for their anesthetical qualities. Usually I would mix a Bloody Mary to my own recipe (which as you will remember involves lemon juice, sherry and celery salt) but for the time being, a generous dash of Cox’s Original to the ubiquitous tomato juice has come in just dandy.
I couldn’t find much about the company which makes it, apart from the fact that it seems to be a small, privately-owned concern based in Nottingham. Bizarrely in this day and age they don’t seem to have a website, although they have their own page on the dreaded Facebook.
The first thing I like is its punchy flavour. A few drops of the stuff into the old tomato juice is going to be just the ticket. And for once, that’s enough. This is the antithesis of those wishy-washy boil in the bag ‘curries’, which have about as much spice as a randy fish finger on heat. The label on the bottle tells me that it’s made from tamarind, chilli peppers, horseradish, molasses, celery seeds, ginger and xanthan gum. You’ll also end up with chunky bits of black pepper floating around in your cocktail- which, in my opinion, could be a good thing.
Now you see her, now you don't: Mary Queen of Scots, or Mary Tudor?
The second thing I like- no love- about Cox’s Original is the quirky Neo-Victorian packaging. It hasn’t been around on the supermarket shelves for that long, so I happen to have kept a bottle dating back to the time when it first came out. The label shows Bloody Queen Mary- 16th century ruff and all- clutching a large glass of the red stuff. Except that it ain’t Bloody Mary. Someone’s made a boob. It’s Mary Queen of Scots!
Antonis Mor, Queen Mary, 1554.
So to keep the pedants at bay, they’ve now done a nifty hatchet job (courtesy of photoshop) to the label, and on later bottles the correct Queen’s head, presumably lifted from the Antonis Mor portrait, has been cut out and plonked slightly awkwardly on to the body. It’s much better now. It’s a mean face for a mean cocktail.