It was chance that led Pleasantville resident Adam Rosen and his brother, David, to make a major career change. In 2003, the brothers were at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park when they stopped at the Ubons family barbecue booth, manned by award-winning pitmasters Garry Roark and Leslie Roark Scott. “We started talking to Garry and Leslie, and the chemistry was immediate,” says Adam. “[Over the next few years,] we quickly became friends who are more like family.”
The Roark family, who own and operate Ubons Restaurant in Yazoo City, Missisippi, have a long tradition of ’cue craft. Their famous barbecue sauce has been passed down for generations, from Garry’s grandparents, to his father (the namesake Ubon), to Garry, and now to his daughter Leslie. (Leslie is a Chopped champion and the first female pitmaster “to win a grand championship on the Memphis circuit,” according to the Ubons website.)
So, how does any of this translate into Bloody Marys? “Garry created the original Bloody Mary mix more than 20 years ago,” featuring Ubons barbecue sauce, explains Adam. Originally shared only with friends and family, the mix quickly became a favorite among customers in the know. In 2012, the family decided to market the mix and teamed up with the brothers to turn the family recipe into a national brand. “At that point, David and I were running our own brokerage company, which we closed when we committed to teaming up with Garry and Leslie,” says Adam.
Now sold at DeCicco’s, Stop & Stop, and Shop Rite locations throughout Westchester (and online at www.ubonsbbq.com), the mix comes in two varieties: the original BBQ Bloody Mary Mix and Hot & Spicy Bloody Mary Mix. Both bottles contain traditional Bloody Mary ingredients like tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, celery seed, lemon, and pickle juice — plus a bit of Ubons World Championship BBQ sauce. The Hot and Spicy relies on five types of pepper — black, white, cayenne, hot pepper flakes, and smoky chipotle powder — for what Adam describes as a “nice, well-rounded heat.”
Not into Bloody Mary cocktails? Try cooking with the mix. “When world-champion barbecue chefs develop a Bloody Mary mix, they don’t just drink it,” says Adam. “They cook with it. A few of our favorite ways to use the mix are in a Bloody Mary salad [with] Redneck Russian dressing, as a marinade for steak, pork, or chicken; or as a base for sautéed shrimp.” Recipes are frequently published on Ubons social media accounts with the hashtag #cookwithit.