The Billy Goat Saloon in Gem Village near Bayfield has long been known for its live music, groups of touring motorcyclists and horned-goat logo.
Owner Ashleigh Tarkington can now add her “Hair of the Goat” bloody mary mix – recently featured in Forbes Magazine – to the list.
Forbes contributor Rachel Klein contacted Tarkington for a piece she was working on about the best bloody mary mixes to buy online. Tarkington’s concoction joined 11 other mixes from Austin, Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; New York City and more. Tarkington, also mayor of Bayfield, attributed the national attention to a mixture of luck and regional support.
“I thought it was a joke. I was like, ‘I’m sorry, who are you and what’s your name?’” Tarkington said of her initial reaction to the call from Forbes.
Tarkington perfected her bloody mary concoction – heavy on the horseradish and spiced with Tabasco and peperoncini peppers – over almost 20 years working at or owning the Billy Goat. How the New York crowd discovered her mix is still a mystery, she said.
“I honestly think it was really dumb luck,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of (online) traffic lately, and I think it was just high on the search.”
The mix was selling like “gangbusters” on Amazon in part because it already had a regional following, Tarkington said. People love the goat’s head logo (which has made the big screen). Regional liquor stores were also posting about the mix on social media, multiplying Tarkington’s social media marketing efforts, she said.
In October 2019, she began self-distributing the mix through a partnership with Durango Artisan Foods. That partnership helped Tarkington successfully bring the original mix to market, and her existing relationships with local liquor stores helped the product gain momentum.
Within months, “Hair of the Goat” was in 28 stores in three states.
“It’s exciting to get the recognition for the product and the recipe,” said Mark Grubis, Durango Artisan Foods owner. “It’s been a pretty big hit locally and regionally, and now it has some national exposure.”
In February, the “Hair of the Goat” team also had a successful marketing push during the National Fiery Foods & BBQ Show in February in Albuquerque. Then the coronavirus hit the Four Corners.
“All that momentum going into it came to a screeching halt,” Tarkington said.
The Billy Goat Saloon closed temporarily because of the virus. The jar manufacturer closed its factory because of the virus. Tarkington is already racing to fill a spike in Amazon orders since the Forbes article published and hoping that she will get a new shipment of jars before her current stock runs out.
“I needed something to be excited about. We’ve been struggling as a bar. We haven’t been able to open,” Tarkington said. “It’s nice to get some good news.”