Your Guide to Building the Best Bloody Mary Bar
There is something infinitely appealing about customizing the Bloody Mary to your liking, and nothing excites brunch guests more than the Bloody Mary Bar. Here’s everything you need to make your Bloody Bar an unforgettable experience, even if it’s a bar for one.
Diversify your mood
Vodka is a classic Bloody Mary drink, but I like to mix it up and make it interesting. If you want to really dazzle your guests with the Bloody Mary craftsmanship, throw a few different perfumes into the bar. As for mixing, keep a simple ratio: For each Bloody, add 2 ounces of alcohol to 4 ounces of everything else, on top of plenty of ice.
- Gin – Yes, gin is just a juniper-flavored vodka, but this extra botanical flavor can add depth and complexity to your base Bloody brunch. Boodles is a fantastic dry gin at a bargain price, but the cucumber flavor at Hendrick’s makes it the perfect accompaniment to tomato juice.
- Tequila or mezcal. Swapping vodka for tequila to make Bloody Mary is fairly common, but mezcal can add a smoky, funky sweetness you might like.
- Zesty Flavored Vodkas — Bloody Mary’s are perfect for whatever novelty bottle, bacon, or sriracha vodka you bought at the liquor store when you were weak, so rip those babies out. One important tip: If you do follow this taste-based route, don’t waste all 2 ounces of booze on flavors. A half and an ounce, maybe, will suffice without overpowering all the other delicious flavors. In fact, there is an exception to this rule, and this is vodka with horseradish, it is so good that I will just drink it myself. You can make it yourself or order its Platonic Ideal from New Deal Distillery.
- Extra Ethanol – Did you know that there are no rules and you can add more than one booze to your Bloody Mary? Well you can, and there is a couple that will truly take your drink to a cooler, more refined, and more alcoholic place. To get started, buy yourself a bottle of Kummel, a cumin / cumin / fennel liqueur that will change your damn life along with your bloody game. Green chartreuse is another good option, with its intensely herbal, somewhat herbal flavor, but takes a little getting used to.
While choosing ethanol is a very important part of making your best Bloody, choosing the right blend can be even more important, so let’s take a moment.
Mix your mixers
Bloody Mary blends can vary greatly, with four out of five flavors (sweet, salty, sour, and umami) coming into play, as well as spice. Some people like bright acidic blood, while others need heat. When setting up Bloody Bar, I prefer to make a tasty yet fairly neutral mix, as well as suggest other flavorful mixes for a truly customizable experience.
- Clam it Up – If you are not allergic to shellfish, clam juice should be in your Bloody. The Canadians have always done this (they call it “Bloody Caesar”) and this is the best way to get the Ultimate Umami experience. Klamato is a classic choice and fantastic, with a lot of gooey qualities (sounds rude, sorry), but if you want to plunge into the world of bivalve juice with ease, consider Trader Joe’s Bloody Mary’s Bloody Mary blend with clam juice. This is a sweet, rather thick, yet fresh concoction with a hint of umami that the shellfish provides. If you will be making a lot of sauces and appetizers, this mix is the perfect classic starting point.
- If you really don’t want to work on it – if you just want to buy a good mix and end it (and I support that laziness), I recommend the following: McClure’s Spicy Bloody Mary Mix (intense, spicy, tangy, and pickley), RIPE San Marzano Bloody Mary Bar Juice ( good tomato flavor, spicy, horseradish, slightly salty ), Original Bloody Mary Mix by Mr. & Mrs. good balance of lemon, salt, pepper and tomato).
- DIY for maximum freshness. The pre-made mixes can sometimes be a little thick and viscous for my taste, which is why I came up with a super fresh and very simple recipe for the most refreshing Bloody Mary you will ever taste.
To do this:
- Grind 2 ½ lb chopped fresh tomatoes with ½ lb chopped peeled cucumbers.
- Strain and mix with 2 ½ cups of your favorite pickled juice (Clausen, tbqh), 4 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, 4 teaspoons of prepared horseradish, and the juice of 2 lemons.
- Pour into one of the IKEA glass bottles and shake, shake, shake. Enjoy your favorite drink for 24 hours, adding hot sauce if you’re one of those spice hunters. If you want a thicker mixture, replace the pickled juice with mashed pickles .
Now that we’ve covered the basics of booze and mixing, let’s have some fun with the skewer appetizers.
Decorate it damn it
Before we discuss the wonderful world of Bloody Mary side dishes, a little bombastic phrase: Side dishes are a very important part of Bloody Mary, but some people and places use them as a crutch. I love candied bacon as much as the next picky cook, but I resent the people who hide their mediocre Bloody Mary behind kara-zi-side dishes, so make sure your mix is locked before throwing a bunch of shit on your plate. … spin around and show off your bloody game. At the same time I like drinks that go with appetizers, side dishes and a good selection can turn your Bloody Mary breakfast “buffet” style “dog hair.” There are several categories you will want to fill out:
- Pickled – all pickled. Pickles, pickled asparagus, green beans, okra, carrots, hot peppers, banana peppers, pepperoncinis, artichoke hearts, palm heart, kimchi (YAS fermented goodness) and pickled onions all work well, but use your imagination here and embrace the spirit of “we can pickle it !”. If I could only choose one thing for my marinated Bloody (and what a nightmare that would be), I would choose gherkins Trader Joe’s , that packs a ridiculous sour and intense punch in a very small pickle.
- OLIVES — All the olives combine well here, but my absolute favorites are Castelvetrano (they are very oily) and blue cheese stuffed (which are stuffed with blue cheese). But then again, there is no olive oil that does not go well with Bloody.
- Fresh Vegetables – Celery is a classic beacon of freshness in Bloody, but I hate celery as hell so I need to find crunch elsewhere. Sweet pepper spears, carrot sticks, sliced fresh cucumbers, and jicama will all provide you with the grip you need when you’re twice the size of a stirring stick.
- Squirrels are where things get really American, so hold on to your pancreas. As mentioned above, bacon is a pretty standard side dish, but let me expand your meaty mind and suggest other meats and animal by-products. For starters, try salami, prosciutto chips , any kind of jerky, pepperoni sticks, Slim Jims (you know what you want), cheese cubes (nutty, slightly sweet Dublin cheese is my choice), cocktail sausages, shrimp, crab (don’t be snob) and halves of boiled and / or pickled eggs. If you want to get really funny, consider scaring your guests with mini quiche, mini corn dogs, dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, or any other mini food that comes from the freezer and might get stuck on the spit …
- Citrus – limes if you use tequila or mezcal, lemons for everything else.
- Rimmers – Bloody Mary just doesn’t look complete without something around the edge of the glass. Good coarse salt and freshly ground pepper with lemon juice is never a bad way, but if you want an unusual and aromatic taste, take a look at Jacobsen Salt Co. Their black garlic, ghost chili, lemon zest, and white truffle. -infused variants are all transcendental on the rim of the Bloody Mary. If you don’t want to spend money on fancy salt, make your own infused sodium chloride using our guide to making salt salt. If you’re garnishing with shrimp, buy Old Bay there. If you really want a stunning effect, consider using my secret shame: a sachet of ramen seasoning.
One side dish from each category is sufficient, but you may be wrong about vegetables / olives. You might think we’ve covered all the basics of Bloody, but you’re wrong. There is one very important element in your bar, and it is very cocky.
You are a cocky thing
The Liquid add-ons are the true heroes of the Bloody Mary bar. While they are not as flashy as the side dishes, and do not take up as much volume as alcohol or a mix, it is they that allow Bloody Mary artist to truly paint his masterpiece. When choosing sauces, you need to highlight three main flavors.
- Spicy. You will obviously need hot sauces, and I recommend using several different styles and strengths. My personal favorites are Sriracha , Crystal, Merchant Joe’s Green Dragon, Habanero’s Secret Aardvark, and Dave’s Madness (WARNING: Use very sparingly), but it’s a good idea to add Tabasco because people get annoyed if it’s not there. While it’s not exactly a hot sauce, you should also put in a can of cooked horseradish and maybe some wasabi powder.
- Spicy – Worcestershire is the best flavor enhancer in my Bloody Bar, and yours isn’t complete without it, but a little fish sauce provides a salty flavor that other sauces can’t. I also highly recommend kimchi and sambal olek, which serve a dual function of flavor, providing warmth and umami.
- Acid -Lemon juice provides more brightness, but sometimes you just need to brine it. There is no need to buy special brines here; just use the pickled liquid from the canned vegetables and olives that you have laid out. (Again, Trader Joe’s gherkins work really well here.) Also, don’t be afraid to use pure vinegar; I like to add some apple cider or balsamic for a sweet and sour treat.
Everything is now ready. Go ahead my friends, go and create the best Bloody Mary of your life. Even if your bloody bar is meant for a one-person party, make it the best bloody bar you’ve ever seen. You deserve it. We do everything.