Back Pocket Provisions makes its debut with three takes on the classic brunch cocktail and more local restaurant news

Founders of Back Pocket Provisions, Jen Beckman and Will Gray, are raising the bar (glass) for brunch and local tomato growers with their curated Bloody Mary mixes. Photo: Amy Jackson Founders of Back Pocket Provisions, Jen Beckman and Will Gray, are raising the bar (glass) for brunch and local tomato growers with their curated Bloody Mary mixes. Photo: Amy Jackson

Back Pocket Provisions makes its debut with three takes on the classic brunch cocktail

If you’re still buying factory-made Bloody Mary mix at the grocery store you’re doing it wrong. Introducing Back Pocket Provisions, the local, fresh-pressed brainchild of brother-sister duo Will Gray and Jen Beckman.

The Sunday brunch—or Saturday lunch, Tuesday dinner, whatever—mixer comes in three varieties: Bloody Brilliant, a nod to the classic with horseradish, cayenne and Worcestershire; Bloody Baja, a sweet, spicier option with corn, garlic and local green chiles and Bloody Bangkok, an Asian-inspired concoction with lemongrass, fish sauce and red curry paste.

Beckman and Gray have had the idea in their back pockets—which also happens to be where Gray usually keeps a flask, hence the company’s name—for a while now, and when they haven’t been collaborating with Virginia farmers and the Local Food Hub, they’ve been in their kitchens, experimenting with nearly 11,000 pounds of Virginia tomatoes.

“The local food movement is up and running, and we think the craft cocktail movement is doing the same thing,” Gray says. “We think there’s a missing link there. It’s silly that you can’t buy local produce in the liquor store, and we can create an altogether new market for growers. If along the way we have to drink Bloody Marys, then worse things have happened.”

Aside from the fact that it simply tastes better (and it does), the freshly made Bloody Mary mix is a way for Beckman and Gray to support local farmers. They source all their tomatoes and as many of the other ingredients as possible from Virginia.

“It creates a market for gorgeous, super-ripe, delicious produce that probably wouldn’t make it for market because it’s dented, too small, too big,” Gray says. “We can take something when it’s super-ripe and make something delicious out of it and give it a home when otherwise it would’ve wound up in a compost bin. If I can pay a farmer for something they grew, then that’s a win for everybody.”

All three Back Pocket Provisions mixes are available at Ivy Provisions and Relay Foods, and keep an eye out for them on local bar menus in the future.

Movin’ on up

Yannick Fayolle joined the team at Clifton Inn as a sous chef in February of this year, and a couple of weeks ago he stepped into the role of executive chef, filling the void that Tucker Yoder left last December after a four-year tenure.

A native of Mauritius (a small island off the coast of Madagascar), a teenaged Fayolle began his career as an unpaid dishwasher in the kitchen of a large hotel on the island. After working his way up the ladder, he eventually went to Switzerland to study hotel and tourism management and culinary arts, and his career has taken him to Dubai, Geneva, Charlottesville (Farmington Country Club in 2011), back home and finally back to Charlottesville.

Access to so many local ingredients and the garden at Clifton Inn is every chef’s dream, he says, and he plans to embrace what the area has to offer with a dash of his own culture.

“Because I come from Africa, I use spices that bring light and warmth to the plate,” Fayolle says. “For me, it brings memories of my childhood. This is part of me, and I’ll bring that, with a twist of Virginia’s cuisine, to the restaurant.”

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