Aaron Haun, co-owner of AC’s Steakhouse in Hernando,
explains their award-winning Bloody Mary’s success
Story by Mary B. Sellers | Photos by Casey Hilder
Drink | May 2015
While the Bloody Mary’s history has remained dense (in keeping with the drink’s aesthetic) to historians and mixologists alike, the fact remains that this classic cocktail maintains its reign of queen of the morning beverages.
Part of her appeal is likely due to the fact that the makeup isn’t spirit-driven, but flavor-driven. Also, the simplicity of the original make-up; tomato juice and vodka allows for a creativity that is absent and unattainable to other cocktails. The Bloody Mary isn’t a strict drink, but one that is playful, open to compromise and experimentation in regards to her accoutrements, with a surprisingly long list of additive ingredients per the drinker’s and bartender’s taste. Elaborate or kept simple, the drink is undoubtedly the go-to choice for morning brunches and tailgates, while seamlessly complementary with either a good book or good company.
AC’s Steakhouse Pub, located in Hernando’s town square, opened in November 2013. Owners Aaron Hahn and Cindy Borkowski wanted to create an atmosphere of comfort, while simultaneously providing a high-quality menu with reasonable prices. The décor proves this, too. Clean and casual, the inside draws upon a comfort that is scarce in fine-dining venues. The concept of comfort, as well as dedication to keeping it local, an unofficial tagline of “locals serving locals,” is obvious and charmingly rendered. In regard to their dedication to casual, Haun explains, “We’re foodies, so we want high-quality food, but we don’t want to be intimidating or pretentious and scare away folks. We wanted to get some folks that are comfortable wearing a T-shirt to come in” He goes on to say that, “the TVs and the pub-side kind of help to create that atmosphere.” But besides the atmospheric casualness, AC’s Steakhouse makes one serious Bloody Mary, and it’s got credentials to back it — their Bloody won first place in the Desoto’s Best awards.
While they have their own standard recipe for their Bloody Mary concoction, they vary it on occasion in keeping with customers’ preferences. “What you like is not going to be what I like, and we have a wide list of ingredients that we can adapt it to what you want. I’ve worked East coast, North, West coast, and South, and every region has its different Bloody Mary. So, we’ve kind of taken all of those ingredients and made them available,” Haun says.
The Bloody Mary
1.5 ounces Smirnoff Vodka
4-5 ounces Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
Splash Tabasco Sauce
Splash Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
Teaspoon Pickle Juice
Mix in a shaker and garnish with olives, limes,
Additional available ingredients
Spices for the rim of the glass
Variety of different vodkas
Regular tomato juice
Their ingredient list is scrumptious and satisfying to anyone bitten with the Bloody Mary bug. Starting with Smirnoff Vodka, they use the ever-popular Zing Zang mix with a splash of Tabasco and Sriracha to ramp up the heat, pickle juice and lime. And like most lovers of the cocktail, they also provide an extensive list of add-ons, including spices, Worcestershire sauce and Wasabi paste, just to name a few. These variances also tie directly into why AC’s Steakhouse’s Bloody Mary is unique the customization, which emulates the cocktail’s free spirit, its devotees’ fun-loving attitude towards booze and the concept of the “day drink.”
Haun and Borkowski serve as dual owners and partners of AC’s Steakhouse. Before this current venture, however, both were in Tunica, one of Mississippi’s premier casino centers, for 12 years in executive-level positions. Haun has 27 years of experience in the hospitality industry, which began in Michigan, later in Las Vegas, and finally the South, specifically, Mississippi. A native of the casino industry, he held executive positions in both food and beverage for organizations like Colony Capital, Caesars Entertainment and Station Casinos, before finally making the move to Hernando.
Borkowski brings an equally impressive résumé to the table. She has worked in the hospitality industry since graduating from college in ’89. With a background in accounting and finance, she served as General Manager for two casinos in Tunica. Both owners posit that since they were locals serving locals, it was critical for them to be involved in the community. They’ve accomplished this by hiring local, purchasing local and sponsoring local whenever possible. Commenting on their current roles at AC’s, Haun says, “We all do everything We’re both well-versed in the kitchen as well as the front of the house. So one of us is pretty much always here.”
With a to-die-for Bloody Mary that provides a seemingly endless list of options and variations and strong and “overwhelming” community support that recognizes the bond of locals to locals, AC’s Steakhouse has been a success from the beginning. The building itself is nearing 100 years old, which harkens back to a past when Hernando was a central hub of Southern activity. Now, the establishment is bringing back a sense of kinship to the Hernando community, aided by a commitment to high-quality food that is purposeful in its affordability, taste and lack of pretention, without sacrificing what’s really important the enjoyment.