Bloody Good

The mixer that saved a company.

Photo Courtesy of Blue Crab Bay Co.

Stingray Bloody Mary Mix

     In 1993, the economy was in the tank. Frilly businesses and purveyors of non-essentials were floundering and, despite nearly 10 years in the business of peddling pricey comestibles, Blue Crab Bay Co. was on the verge of collapse.

     “We didn’t know if we were going to keep going or not,” says founder Pamela Barefoot. So Barefoot went for broke. “I thought, ‘What would my dream product be?’” she says from her Melfa office on the Eastern Shore. The answer came surprisingly easy: a special, proprietary Bloody Mary mix. But what would distinguish hers from the shelves and shelves of other Bloody Mary mixers? She looked no farther than her own stockroom for the answer.

     Many companies have their own version of Chesapeake Bay seasoning (Old Bay being one of the best known), and Blue Crab Bay is no exception. Blue Crab Bay’s Chesapeake Bay seasoning, which is used in many of the company’s products, has a not-so-secret ingredient that adds what Barefoot describes as “the subtle taste of celery.” (“We have to list all the ingredients on the label,” Barefoot adds.) And what marries nicely with Bloody Marys? Why, celery, of course. Then, to give it the flavor of the salt air one would expect from a bayside company, she added clam juice. The blending of the two flavors would give it Blue Crab Bay’s distinctive imprimatur.

     After mixing, boiling, tasting and repeating the process numerous times in her kitchen, Barefoot corked three different versions, grabbed some vodka and headed off to work to let the staff choose one. (Did we mention that Blue Crab Bay is a fun place to work?)

     After the voting was done, Barefoot gave it a name—Stingray Bloody Mary Mix—slapped labels on some bottles and got them in front of customers. The response was quick and warm. “Sales started climbing fast after that,” she says. Further fueling Stingray’s acceptance was the gold trophy it won for Outstanding Beverage at the 1994 International Fancy Food Show. Stingray “really put us on the map,” says Barefoot.

     Toasting Stingray’s upcoming 20th birthday, Blue Crab Bay has added another potential award winner to its shelves: Jalapeno-infused Margarita Mixer. This time, there’s no pressure to save the company. Just sit back, and watch sales climb.

Subscribe to Virginia Living magazine

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum