The cocktail sauce Bowens Island Restaurant is now bottling for retail sale tastes almost exactly like the sauce the restaurant served its customers when it opened in 1946, owner Robert Barber says. But he admits the production method has changed slightly since then.
“You’d wash out a can of ketchup, put water in it and eyeball it,” Barber recalls. “It doesn’t work like that when you’re trying to put it in several hundred bottles.”
Food for the Southern Soul, Jimmy Hagood’s specialty Southern food company, is distributing the sauce. It’s available at Charleston area Harris Teeter stores, as well as several locally owned markets and the legendary restaurant.
Barber last sold Bowens Island cocktail sauce in the 1980s, when he and his grandmother, restaurant founder May Bowen, obtained certification to bottle and sell the popular condiment. During those sessions, Barber recorded the exact measurements that the restaurant had settled on as its signature recipe.
“I always thought it was sort of an exceptional sauce,” Barber says. “It’s got a nice little spice to it, but it’s on the thinner side, and it really does complement seafood in a real nice way. It doesn’t overwhelm it like a lot of the thick sauces do.”
Bowens Island is selling the 12-ounce bottle through its online store for $5.99.