Part one of our interview with Demitri Pallis, founder and owner of

Part one of our interview with Demitri Pallis, founder and owner of Demitri’s All Natural Bloody Mary Seasoning. Check back tomorrow for Part Two: Demitri’s Five Favorite Seattle Bloody Marys. Former Seattle bartender Demitri Pallis likes to make stealth visits to the many bars and restaurants that carry his products. He’ll walk in, sit down and order a Bloody Mary. Then he’ll ask the bartender if they make their own Mary mix. As often as not, the bartenders will say yes, absolutely. But they are unaware that the man they are talking to is the same man who made the mix they secretly use. Indeed, his name is right there at the top of each label of Demitri’s All Natural Bloody Mary Seasoning. The white lie does not offend Demitri. Instead, it delights him.”If some waiter or bartender thinks it’s so good that they want to take the credit, great,” Pallis said with a laugh. “That means I’m making a mix they really like.” This seems true across much of Seattle. The mix invented by a local bartender-turned-entrepreneur has become a staple in places ranging from fine dining to dives. “It’s terrific,” said Mike Christopher, a waiter and bartender at Maximilien’s.

“We make our own, but it’s a good reason not to.”It was Pallis’ frustration with both standard and in-house mixes 22 years ago that prompted him to begin the quest to find a better mix. At the time he was working as a bartender for both the New Orleans and Jake O’Shaughnessy’s (now closed). He discovered that store-bought Mary mixes were bland but kept a long time. In-house mixes were labor-intensive and prone to spoil if not used quickly enough.”So I started making my own,” he said. “I experimented with different seasonings and strengths. I had a bar full of unsuspecting guinea pigs every night. My bartender friends started asking for it, so I made some for them.”The mix became a hit among his friends and at the places he worked. Making it as a concentrate allowed a bar to store in in ready supply without unsealing too much at a time. Two years later, orders exceeded available time. Pallis was forced to make a decision: Be a bartender or a mix master.This year, Demitri’s celebrates its 20th year in business. Still living in Seattle and still regularly visiting every local bar he sells to, Pallis’ company now ships four varieties of his all-natural mix and rim seasoning to 50 states. The Red Robin chain buys his mix. So do some of Seattle’s nicest restaurants. But mum’s the word on that. “They don’t need to say it’s Demitri’s,” he said with a laugh. “As long as they buy it.”Check back tomorrow for Part Two of our interview with Demitri Pallis: Dimitri’s Five Favorite Bloody Marys.