The Ultimate Bloody Mary Bar

Put together a Bloody Mary Bar for the ultimate brunch with friends. Set up a station with Bloody Mary mix, booze, condiments and a variety of garnishes for guests to build their perfect savory cocktail.

a Bloody Mary with a pitcher of Bloody Mary mix and a plate of Bloody Mary rim salt

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The ultimate Bloody Mary Bar

Brunch just isn’t brunch without a Bloody Mary, is it?

These savory cocktails are often referred to as “hangover cures,” making them a fitting drink for the morning after a night out. (The jury is out on if they’re really a cure or not!)

Bloody Marys are also easy to make for a crowd — all you really need is some booze and some Bloody Mary mix. Garnishes are optional but highly recommended.

Here’s why making your own Bloody Mary bar is so much fun for a party:

  • Bloody Mary bars are easy to set up. All you need is 1-3 types of booze and Bloody Mary mix, plus some condiments and garnishes. Most items can be prepared ahead of time.
  • The recipe is customizable. Bloody Marys can be made with vodka, gin, bourbon, rum and even beer.
  • People can fix their own. No need to bartend the whole party. Let guests serve themselves and make their ideal brunch drink, topped with their favorite garnishes.

Bloody Mary bars are great for game day and tailgates, Sunday brunch or even a picnic. 

Set up your Bloody Mary bar alongside a mimosa bar.

top view of a Bloody Mary with garnishes, a plate of rim salt and a pitcher of

What is a Bloody Mary?

The Bloody Mary is a famous cocktail is known for its role on brunch menus everywhere.

Made with tomato juice and vodka as the co-stars and a cast of condiments that includes Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, horseradish and hot sauce, this ruby-red, savory cocktail is packed with flavor.

This cocktail is easily customizable with different alcohols, condiments and garnishes. In fact, the garnishes are probably the most fun part of a Bloody Mary!

What you need for a Bloody Mary bar

Here are the items you will need for the perfect Bloody Mary bar:

  • Bloody Mary Mix — make your own or buy it at the store
  • Alcohol — vodka is classic, but a few other options will let guests create their own concoction (more on this below)
  • Rim salt for the edges of the glasses
  • Condiments — hot sauces, salt and pepper, etc.
  • Garnishes — celery stalks, pickled veggies, fresh herbs and a few creative options (more ideas below)
  • An ice bucket (or cooler) filled with ice
  • Highball glasses (affiliate link) or plastic cups
  • Bamboo skewers (affiliate link) for garnishes

Every Bloody Mary bar is going to be a little different based on your preferences and what you want to serve — but that’s what makes them the perfect party drink!

Now let’s go into detail on exactly what you need to pick up at the grocery store:

a carafe of homemade Bloody Mary mix with a kitchen towel and a plate of Bloody Mary rim salt

Bloody Mary Mix

My recipe for homemade Bloody Mary mix is a scaled-up version of my classic Bloody Mary recipe, which is perfect for serving a lot of guests at a party, picnic or tailgate.

If you’re expecting a large crowd, you may prefer to purchase a few bottles of Bloody Mary mix instead. This Bloody Mary mix is one of my faves.

Another idea is to set up a few types of Bloody Mary mix for guests to sample and find a new favorite.

Also, if you use Clamato juice (a mixture of tomato juice, dried clam broth and spices) to make your Bloody Mary mix, guests can make Bloody Caesars. (This one is Canada’s national cocktail!)

Alcohol for a Bloody Mary Bar

One of the great things about the Bloody Mary is that it can be made with a number of types of alcohol. I recommend offering at least vodka, but you may want to provide a few more options.

  • Vodka: This one is the go-to choice for a traditional Bloody Mary. (Try a flavored vodka like hatch chile vodka.)
  • Tequila: When tequila is added, it’s called a Bloody Maria. (Try jalapeño-infused tequila for a kick.)
  • Gin: The herbal spirit makes a flavorful drink called a Red Snapper.
  • Bourbon: Whiskey adds a smoky sweetness and makes a Bloody Derby.
  • Beer: Set out chilled bottles of Mexican lager for folks to use in Micheladas.

You may wish to set up a few non-alcoholic options as well so people can make Virgin Marys. I really like both the Ritual gin alternative (affiliate link) and the Ritual tequila alternative (affiliate link) for these. Folks can also sip on Bloody Mary mix without alcohol.

Bloody Mary rim salt on a black plate, ready to rim cocktails

Rim Salt

Rimming Bloody Marys with a flavorful salt is a great way to impart some extra flavor in every sip, and it’s something extra and fun for guests to do at a Bloody Mary bar.

You can make your own Bloody Mary rim salt with salt, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. You may need to double the recipe for a larger group.

Though mixing your own rim salt is very easy to do, you can also purchase pre-mixed rim salt (and spicy rim salt) to keep on hand as well.

If you do set out rim salt for your guests, you will want to cut up a lemon or lime into wedges for them to use to moisten the rim of each glass before dipping.

Condiments

Set out a few condiments for guests to add to their brunch beverages if desired.

  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • at least one type of hot sauce, but several is better (Texas Pete, Cholula, sriracha, tabasco sauce, etc.)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • prepared horseradish
  • celery salt
  • Tajìn or chili powder 
  • maple syrup (some people like it sweet!) 
an infographic of Bloody Mary garnish ideas

Garnishes

There are endless ideas for topping your Bloody Marys! I even put together a whole list of over 100 ideas for Bloody Mary garnishes.

You can offer just a few or you can put out a bunch and let people go crazy!

Here are a few classic garnishes to get you started:

  • lemon wedges and lime wedges
  • grape or cherry tomatoes
  • celery ribs 
  • pepper slices (sweet or jalapeño)
  • cucumber spears
  • dill pickle spears, sliced pickles or cornichons
  • olives
  • pickled vegetables, such as pearl onions, jalapeños or green beans

Brunchy garnishes

Just for fun, here are a few Bloody Mary toppings that would work well for a brunch.

  • waffles
  • silver dollar pancakes
  • sausage links
  • bacon — I suggest baking your bacon ahead of time
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • hashbrowns
  • mini bagels with cream cheese
  • mini pimento cheese sandwiches

Game day garnishes

If you’re planning a Bloody Mary bar for a game watching party or tailgate, try these garnishes:

garnishes and a glass of Bloody Mary cocktail

Setting up a Bloody Mary bar

Pick a location in your home to set up the ultimate Bloody Mary bar. Think of it as a little station where you have all the items ready to go. Make sure it’s a little out of the way of the food station and eating area so that guests can linger while they build their perfect drink! 

Then, set up the Bloody Mary Bar area so that guests can move through it in order of what they will need.

On one end of the table, place the cups and ice next to each other. (Some napkins might be nice too!)

If you’re serving your Bloody Mary bar with rim salt, set it out on a plate near the glasses. You’ll also need a small bowl of cut lime or lemon wedges.

Next to those, place your bottles of booze and a jigger for measuring booze.

Set out a pitcher or bottle of Bloody Mary mix. (Keep it in the fridge until ready to serve, so leave a spot open if you’re setting it up in advance.) Stash extras in the fridge to stay cool.

Lastly, arrange the condiments and a tray of garnishes for guests to choose from. Don’t forget the skewers!

closeup of garnishes on a Bloody Mary

How to Make a Bloody Mary

Here’s how to tell folks to make their perfect Bloody Mary. You may need to demonstrate to one or two people and they can show other guests how to do it if anyone is unsure.

First, they’ll need to rim their glasses with a lime wedge ( or lemon) and dip the rim in Bloody Mary salt if they like.

Next, add ice to the glasses.

Then, top with 2 ounces of their chosen spirit and fill the glass to the top with Bloody Mary mix.

Adorn it with the good stuff — some creative garnishes! Enjoy. 

Bloody Mary Cocktails

Depending on what alcohols you serve at your Bloody Mary bar, there a number of cocktails you can make:

  • The Bloody Maria is made with tequila or mezcal.
  • A Virgin Mary is made with zero-proof alcohol or a little bit of olive juice. It can also just be a glass of Bloody Mary mix.
  • The Bloody Derby is made with bourbon whiskey and has an unexpected, slightly sweet flavor.
  • You can make a Red Snapper, AKA a Bloody Bulldog, with gin, or try a Cubanita, which is a Bloody Mary with rum.
  • The New Orleans Bloody Mary has some extra Louisiana flavor with creole seasoning and cajun hot sauce.
  • For the beer drinkers, there’s the Michelada, which is like a Bloody Mary and a beer margarita combined. It doesn’t usually contain Bloody Mary mix (just tomato juice), but you can totally make it with mix!
a closeup of a garnish on a Bloody Mary made with homemade Bloody Mary mix

Bloody Mary Bar

Yield: 16 cocktails
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $40

Set up a Bloody Mary Bar for your guests at your next party or brunch. Let them choose their favorite spirit and toppings to create their ultimate Bloody Mary.

Materials

  • 16 cups (2 32-ounce bottles) Bloody Mary mix
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle vodka
  • 2 (750 ml) bottles tequila, gin, rum or bourbon
  • ice
  • rim salt
  • condiments, such as hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and prepared horseradish
  • garnishes, such as celery, pickled veggies, fresh herbs and a few creative options (more ideas below)

Tools

  • pitcher
  • highball glasses
  • jigger
  • bamboo skewers
  • ice bucket or cooler

Instructions

Setting up the Bloody Mary bar

  1. Pick a location in your home to have all the items ready to go. Make sure it’s a little out of the way of the food station or eating area, so that guests can linger while they build their drinks.
  2. Then, set up the Bloody Mary Bar area so that guests can move through it in order of what they will need.
  3. On one end of the table, place the cups and ice next to each other. (Some napkins might be nice too!)
  4. If you’re serving your Bloody Mary bar with rim salt, set it out on a plate near the glasses. You’ll also need a small bowl of cut lime or lemon wedges.
  5. Next to those, place your alcohol options and a jigger for measuring booze.
  6. Set out a pitcher or bottle of Bloody Mary mix. (Keep it in the fridge until ready to serve, so leave a spot open if you’re setting it up in advance.) Stash extras in the fridge to stay cool.
  7. Lastly, arrange the condiments and a tray of garnishes for guests to choose from. Don’t forget the skewers!


How to Make a Bloody Mary

  1. First, they’ll need to rim your glasses with a lime/lemon wedge and dip the rim in Bloody Mary salt if they like.
  2. Next, add ice to the glasses.
  3. Then, top with 2 ounces of their chosen spirit and fill the glass to the top with Bloody Mary mix.
  4. Adorn it with some creative garnishes, and enjoy!

Notes

Check out this list of ultimate Bloody Mary garnishes.

Recommended Products

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