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!
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.
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.
Second, two pro tips: tiers and toothpicks. For the first, create depth by placing garnish containers on platforms of different heights. Tiers will make even the most bountiful assortment more accessible and will give your bar a beautiful, cornucopia-like look. And as for the toothpicks, help your guests avoid messy fingers—and be kind to the germ-conscious—by providing mini- and full-length skewers with which visitors to the bar can pluck their chosen garnishes from their containers and dress their cocktails with ease.
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:
Kosher pickle spears
Make It Your Own:
Pepperocinis, peppadews or other peppers
Large caper berries
Marinated artichoke hearts
Marinated pearl onions
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:
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
Make It Your Own:
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:
Beef jerky or pepperoni sticks
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.