We all know about Stiles Switch BBQ. In the four years since the joint's opening, owner Shane Stiles, pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick, and the whole Stiles crew have crafted arguably some of the best oak-smoked proteins and Southern sides in the country. But there's one person working in the background you may not be familiar with just yet.
Shane Stiles' wife, Catherine Stiles, is not only a central figure in the Central Texas barbecue landscape, but she is also an emerging entrepreneur. After years of serving as what she lovingly calls a "barbecue cheerleader" from the sidelines, Catherine has branched out to launch her own business with a boozy twist.
The emerging cocktail aficionado has moved from the home kitchen into a commercial kitchen where she crafts and bottles small-batch versions of her crowd-pleasing Bloody Mary cocktail, appropriately titled Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix.
"It's become such a staple when I entertain," she says. "It's the drink you'd want to have with your girlfriends and at your brunches, tailgates, football games, and backyard barbecues. It's taken me years to tweak and perfect, and I'm excited to get it on shelves."
Adopting a time-intensive process of preparing three separate recipes, including a homemade Worcestershire sauce, tomato base, and smoked sea salt and black pepper blend, Catherine folds in the most important ingredient of all: Stiles Switch's barbecue sauce. The popular condiment infuses a whole new flavor profile into the spicy vegetable drink.
"It's become such a complement to the mix, and it combines my two greatest loves: barbecue and Bloody Marys. What more could you ask for?"
Catherine is committed to utilizing the freshest ingredients in the cocktail mix — "junk free" as she calls it — to prepare the blend. "Ingredient integrity is so important to us at the restaurant, so it wouldn't make sense for me to create something and cut corners with MSG or high fructose corn syrup."
In terms of how to drink the mix, Catherine offers one piece of advice: "We've put in so much work to make a great mix, so you'll want to pair it with a premium vodka," she says. "Lucky for us, there are so many great local vodkas in Austin."
The design of the glass bottle has a story of its own. While the bottle design is already eye-catching, what's most unique is what appears as the mix disappears.
"I worked with local designer Gary Dorsey on a double-sided label to incorporate these different illustrations of barbecue wives," she says. "As you drink the mix, you start to see these different barbecue wives appear, and they're just adorable. I don't want to give too many of their personalities away, but one of them is definitely a barbecue cheerleader."
"There’s this idea that barbecue is such a man’s world, but it really isn’t,” she says. “There are so many women I’ve met in the community who play both supporting and main roles in this industry, and I want to recognize these incredible women.”
To get to know some of these amazing women, follow Catherine’s video channel, A Bloody Good Conversation, where she talks with a number of influential Southern women.
The Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix is available at Stiles Switch as well as a number of local spirits stores. Find the location nearest you on the Barbecue Wife’s website.