When planning a brunch menu, it’s important to remember that the beverages are equally as important as the dishes. Whether boozy or otherwise, flavorful and invigorating libations keep drowsy brunchers (or brunchers fighting off a nasty hangover) refreshed and engaged.
Perhaps the most famous brunch drink is the Bloody Mary, a spicy and tangy elixir with unmatched wake-you-up powers. Bloody Marys and brunch are a natural fit, but if you’re hosting brunch at home, mixing Bloody Marys to order can be a somewhat high-maintenance idea. Luckily, this cocktail is easy to translate into a DIY format, with guests using prepared ingredients to make Bloody Marys perfectly calibrated to their tastes. Read on for a step-by-step guide to building a Bloody Mary bar sure to make your next brunch a total success.
Assemble your glassware and serving accessories.
In order to make your Bloody Mary bar as user-friendly as possible, start by arranging your glassware in an easy-to-access area. Traditionally, Bloody Marys are served in highball glasses. That said, you could easily swap those glasses out for pint glasses or even hurricane glasses. You want a tall glass with enough room to hold the fully-mixed drink. Beyond that, feel free to get creative! If you’re hosting a larger group (or if you have especially forgetful friends) consider setting out some washable glass markers so that everyone can put their name on their glass of choice.
Set out several cocktail spoons and jiggers (shot glasses will do in a pinch!) to make the mixing process easier. Bloody Marys are usually served over ice, so keep a full ice bucket on-hand with a scooper for easy access.
Make a pitcher of Bloody mix.
By prepping the Bloody Mary mix ahead of time, you’ll save both yourself and your guests a great deal of time and effort without compromising quality. Either fill a large pitcher with your pre-made Bloody mix of choice, or make your own by combining tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce (Tabasco is classic), lemon or lime juice, and black pepper in a ratio that you enjoy. Play around with different quantities and find the Bloody Mary flavor that works for you!
Offer a selection of spirits.
Right next to the Bloody mix pitcher, line up a few different options for “spiking” the drink. Vodka is the traditional spirit associated with Bloody Marys, and you can either use regular vodka or try a flavored vodka that melds nicely with the other ingredients of a Bloody, like lemon vodka or black pepper vodka. There’s no need to restrict yourself to a vodka-only Bloody Mary situation, though! Try adding tequila to make a Bloody Maria, dark rum for a slightly-sweet twist on the classic, or bourbon for a rich undercurrent. The jiggers or shot glasses should be placed near the spirit bottles so that guests can measure and pour with ease.
If you or your guests prefer an alcohol-free Bloody, zero-proof spirits work beautifully in this cocktail, and you can include zero-proof vodka, tequila, rum, or whiskey in your lineup. Setting out small carafes of olive juice and pickle juice can also help guests give the Bloody mix an extra briny kick without the aid of alcohol.
Have fun with your garnishes.
We live in an age of Bloody Marys garnished with candied bacon, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken, so you should feel completely empowered to go wild with your Bloody Mary bar garnishes. Put together platters of established favorites (like olives, celery stalks, dill pickle spears, citrus wedges, or jalapenos) but don’t hesitate to add some “wild card” items like pepperoni, pickled okra, baby corn, shrimp, or cheese sticks. Above all else, have a great time—that’s what brunch is all about!