How to Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

If the bloody mary had a season, it’d be the week between Christmas and the new year. For about a weeklong window, the beloved brunch beverage is totally appropriate to enjoy before noon on a random Monday or Friday—and in the holiday spirit, you can “decorate” it with garnishes, which is arguably, the best part. 

Bloody mary garnishes can be simple and understated—sometimes a celery rib and few olives will do. But they’re also one of the few cocktails where “the more the merrier” is almost always true. From pickled veggies and bacon to shrimp and even tiny sliders, it’s like a choose-your-own-adventure in cocktail form. 

Create a bloody mary bar to get the most fun out of this festive cocktail: Set out vodka (or tequila) and a carafe of bloody mary mix (we like Sister’s Sauce). From there, you need dishes of seasoning salts for rimming, toppings for all adventure levels, and extra hot sauce (because there’s always the one person who asks). 

From the carnivorous to the vegetarian, these are the unessential essentials we’re using to spruce up our holiday bloody mary bar. 

How to Build the Best Bloody Mary Bar 

Sisters Sauce on the blood mary bar

Bloody Mary Mix

You need a mix that’s simultaneously smooth, richly flavored, and balanced in its spice and acidity levels. We love Sister’s Sauce bloody mary mix for all of those reasons. The Georgia-based brand gets full flavor from high-quality tomato juice, fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, horseradish and Tabasco for a kick, and lots of seasonings. Its loaded flavor means it can anchor any out-of-the-box garnishes you fancy.

 

 

Olinda Olives next to a bloody mary

Olives

Olives add a delightful salty punch to martinis, gin and tonics, and spritzes, and your bloody mary should be no exception. Olive lovers will dig the medley they get with the Olinda Olives three-pack, complete with giant Sevillano pitted olives, snappy green olives that make for a bold garnish, and a combo jar of Sicilian and Greek whole olives—those ones are for snacking.

All the Pickles

Pickles, like olives, add briny flavor that tempers the burn of alcohol and complements the vinegar in the bloody mary mix. The Pickled Pink Variety Four-Pack offers four ways to dress up your bloody ary (though you may want to save the pickled peaches for a later use). Load a toothpick with Smokin’ Okra spears and Gourmet Jalapeño Pickles. The Sweet Jalapeños can be muddled in your glass before adding ice and vodka if you want an extra-spicy cocktail, or you can make a tiny slice in each and hang them on the rim.

Bacon garnishing a bloody mary

Bacon

Since the bloody mary verges on snack territory, you might as well take it all the way with a slab of crispy bacon sticking out of the glass. The applewood-smoked, thick-sliced Heritage Bacon from Pine Street Market is our go-to for garnishing, as well as BLTs and breakfasts. It’s beautifully marbled and cooks up into a crisp, meaty addition to the cocktail. 

Hot Sauce

Let your guests adjust their bloody mary to taste with a couple of hot sauces ranging from medium to hot heat. Virginia-based Clark + Hopkins makes a dozen or so different hot sauces that demonstrate that “hot” doesn’t always mean too spicy. Their warming Chesapeake Bay hot sauce pays homage to the business’ origins with a briny pepper sauce that pairs well with the various briny flavors in the bloody mary. If you want your ears to smoke, go for the brand’s peppery Assam sauce, which was used on the show Hot Ones.

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