“Bobbo” Sargent spins his signature recipe into success
A Bloody Mary is an unusual drink. While most classic cocktails revolve around precise measurements, with the delicate addition of flavors to accentuate the booze, Bloody Marys have an entirely different approach. Not only are they one of the few savory cocktails in the canon of staple tipples, but they are often improvised in every point, from the measurements to the garnish.
While most cocktails feature only a few ingredients, the Bloody Mary — typically tomato-based with a complex array of spices — can contain dozens. It truly is breakfast in a glass.
When Robert Sargent — Bobbo to his friends — devised Bobbo’s Bloody Mary Mix, he was already well versed in improv, both in his art and in his life. After a stint in the Navy, joining the Navy School of Music, and college in the DC area, he worked as a musician in Memphis, where he met his wife.
Sargent plays upright bass — an unwieldy instrument with no frets that takes muscle to master. He and Janie moved to Nashville to try to become professional songwriters, and when that didn’t work out, they segued into full-time catering. This pattern of go-with-the-flow spontaneity, combined with tenacious discipline, served them well. They sold their profitable business in 2009 and retired to Brevard.
Newly idle, Sargent was urged by friends to try to market the signature Bloody Mary mix he’d worked hard to perfect: “I got the idea from a Mississippi farmer I knew who made them. And when I started making [my own], I used some of the ideas that he used. We tried it out on our staff and friends, and tweaked it a little bit here and there until we came up with the final result.” The custom recipe, which Sargent calls “medicinal,” is also versatile enough to use in chili, soup, jambalaya, and many more signature recipes that he publishes on his website.
Since the launch of Bobbo’s Bloody Mary Mix, in addition to having an online store, Sargent has gained distribution for his products — adorned with painterly label art by Shellie Lewis — on the shelves of regional Ingles Markets, numerous local bars, and specialty shops throughout Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania counties. (He also markets a dry rub and a barbecue sauce.)
So what’s Bobbo doing with all of those Bloody Mary profits? “I just started making music again,” he reveals. Using his food-entrepreneurship earnings, Sargent booked Seclusion Hill recording studios in Asheville with some musician friends and recorded a new album of original jazz tunes with a proven theme: The Bobbo Presents: A Bloody Merry Mix.
Bobbo’s Bloody Mary Mix, Robert “Bobbo” Sargent, Brevard. Find Bobbo’s products at Ingles Markets (ingles-markets.com), Mill Spring Farm Store (828-894-8028), Crate Wine Market & Project in Hendersonville (cratenc.com), and in Brevard at Broad Street Wines (winebrevardnc.com), D.D. Bullwinkel’s Outdoors (ddbullwinkels.com), Food Matters Market & Cafe (foodmattersmarket.com), Main Street Limited (mainstreetltd.com), and Hunters and Gatherers (coolamericanproducts.com). For a full list of stockists and more information, visit bobbosstuff.com.