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How to build the best Bloody Mary Bar

So you’re thinking about setting up a Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar (MYOBM) for brunch or a football game watch party and have no idea where to start. Pouring Toma makes things super simple for your guests but knowing how to set up the bar with various garnishes and spirits takes planning… and we’re here to help!

Let’s Start with the Cocktail First

A classic Bloody Mary is made with vodka, of course, but this versatile cocktail can accommodate nearly any spirit. For your MYOBM bar, why not give your guests the option of experimenting with something a little different? We recommend offering a selection of spirits that cater to diverse preferences:

Bloody Mary – Vodka
Bloody Maria – Tequila or Mezcal
Red Snapper – Gin
Brown Mary – Bourbon or Whiskey
Virgin Mary – Splash of seltzer or just the mix

If you know that some of your guests are fans of tequila or gin, give them the option to make a Bloody Mary with these spirits. They’ll appreciate you. A Virgin Mary is also a great option if you have guests that don’t drink.

Using a Premium Bloody Mary Mixer Can Elevate Your Cocktail

Handcrafted with curated ingredients including our own sriracha and chipotle-tomatillo sauce, our three mixers deliver on a promise to make a deliciously savory cocktail -- each one with carrying degrees of heat and flavor profiles. You can read more about our mixers here. We take the guesswork out of pouring the perfect Bloody Mary. Simply add Toma to the spirit of your choice and finish off with your favorite garnishes. Now this is where the creativity comes in!

Toma Bloody Mary Mixers

How to Setup a Stylish Bloody Mary Bar

There is a bottomless treasure chest of inspirational photos on Pinterest and other sites, so we won’t dictate how you should arrange the items (plus, between thematic twists and personal touches, the presentation is just as customizable as a Bloody Mary). What we have are just a few basic tips for making your MYOBM bar the centerpiece of a great party.

Toma Bloody Mary Bar Grabbing Pepper

First, at the risk of sounding silly, pick a sturdy table! There will be a crowd around the bar at least a few times, and the last thing you want is a Bloody Mary mess. Position your table somewhere central, but not in the way—against a wall is a safe bet.

Here are two side-bar tips: tiers and toothpicks. For the first, create depth by placing garnish containers on platforms of different heights.Just as you would vary heights with centerpieces, you should do the same with a buffet. It is more appealing to the eye and will add dimension to your set-up. Make sure to elevate the less messy dishes as you don’t want sauces to spill on your tablecloth.

Some people stack books under the tablecloth to create elevation; however, you may prefer to vary the heights on top of the tablecloth using serving trays and dishes.  Place taller items in the back (assuming that your table is set up against a wall.)

 And as for the toothpicks, help your guests avoid messy fingers—and be kind to the germ-conscious since we are just coming out of a living in the pandemic bubble (are we coming out of it yet)—by providing mini- and full-length skewers.

Rim the glasses: Boost of flavor

We recommend our popular Maple Bacon Infused Sea Salt. You can either do this ahead of time or allow your guests to add themselves. To rim the glass follow these steps:

  1. Fill a saucer or shallow bowl with a pile of salt or sugar.
  2. Hold the wet-rimmed glass at about a 45-degree angle to the saucer.
  3. Dab the rim into the salt  while slowly turning the glass so that only the outer edge is covered.
  4. Shake off any excess salt or sugar over a sink or wastebasket.

Garnishes, Part 1: Bright and Fresh

Garnishes! This is the best part of a Bloody Mary bar. A carefully curated selection will tantalize all of your guests’ taste buds—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami—with a variety of delights that can double as nibbles, if it strikes someone’s fancy.

Natural garnishes are key to an elevated Bloody Mary bar setup. Fruit and vegetables deliver pops of color, satisfying crunchiness, and fresh flavor, a trifecta that transforms a satisfactory MYOBM bar into a masterpiece. Our suggestions:

Cucumber slices
Kosher pickle spears

Make It Your Own:
Pepperocinis, peppadews or other peppers
Large caper berries
Marinated artichoke hearts
Marinated pearl onions
Baby corn

Garnishes, Part II: Pickled Veggies

A restaurant Bloody Mary will often come with a couple of pickled whole green beans poking out (or if you’re in the south, look for pickled whole okra). There’s a reason for this: sour and zingy, vinegar-treated vegetables help balance the richness and spice to deliver that special Bloody Mary flavor combination.

For your MYOBM bar, consider making your own pickled veggies if you have time! It’s fun and will give you even more pride over your ultimate creation. If pickling isn’t your thing or you’re working on a quick turnaround, you can also pick them up at a specialty grocery store. Either way, make sure you have some briny flavors available at your bar! Our suggestions:

Green beans

Make It Your Own:

Garnishes, Part III: Sauces

The final category of garnishes for a killer MYOBM bar is a liquid one and will give your guests the greatest flexibility in flavoring their cocktails.

Toma is already made with our own sriracha and a chipotle tomatillo sauce, which gives the Original mixer a peppery, savory, and slightly smoky flavor profile. Our new Horseradish mixer is less smoky and has more of a horseradish kick. Just in case some of your guests want their Bloody Mary even spicier or with more horseradish, be prepared to offer the following sauces on the side. Our suggestions:

Hot sauce, like Tapatio or Tabasco
Horseradish sauce
Worcestershire sauce

Make It Your Own:
Pickle juice
Olive brine

A Few Ways to Turn Up the Creativity

Offer a selection of savory proteins: Instagram is filled with photos of Bloody Marys topped with full cheeseburgers and beyond—truly wild stuff. For your MYOBM bar we recommend going a little simpler, but we do love how the right protein addition can beef up a homemade Bloody Mary. Plus, they’re a treat for the taste buds! Some ideas:

Cheese squares
Cooked shrimp
Beef jerky or pepperoni sticks
Sliced soppressata

Hosting parties is one of life’s great pleasures and adding a Make Your Own Bloody Mary bar to your event will only make it that much more pleasurable – for you and your guests. We hope these suggestions were helpful, though of course, you should make your bar your own! However you design your setup, we recommend using Toma to really elevate everyone’s cocktails and, as a result, the entire party.

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