Being a Bloody Mary enthusiast does not require fitting into a mold. Unique among cocktails, the Bloody Mary has nearly infinite varieties; it would be challenging to find two Bloody Mary lovers whose preferred cocktail is exactly alike. This is part of what makes Bloody Marys so desirable to so many people. It’s also why Make Your Own Bloody Mary bars are so much fun!
The versatility of the Bloody Mary (and its savory profile) means that you can fit an impressive MYOBM bar into nearly any entertaining occasion: homemade brunches, of course, but also Sunday football, New Year’s Day festivities, game nights, birthday celebrations, holiday parties, and more.
With a couple splashes of imagination and preparation, a Make Your Own Bloody Mary bar lets you show off your creativity as a host—and makes a stunning centerpiece for any party.
Transcend the Basics, with Toma
There are a few items must-have items in your MYOBM bar. Tall cocktail glasses, ice, black pepper, lemons, limes, hot sauce, and of course the tomato-based mix will be the foundation of your set-up.
Now, we believe a Bloody Mary should be made from scratch, which is why Toma is made with our own chipotle tomatillo sauce, sriracha and steak sauce. We believe it’s perfection in a bottle, but if you want to add any ingredients to spice things up, be our guest. Our goal is to simplify your life so you can serve your guests the most delicious Bloody Mary, not ask them to be a bartender at your party. By featuring Toma at your bar, you’ll have a straightforward, mess-free, pre-made base that’s nevertheless delicious, peppery, and balanced.
When your bar has more space for unique garnishes and add-ons to delight the senses (more on those soon!), your creativity and palate will really shine.
Set Up a Stylish Bloody Mary Bar
Just slightly below the featured edibles and sauces in order of importance is the presentation of your Bloody Mary bar itself. 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 I: 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 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 Artisanal Bloody Mary Mix is already made with our homemade chipotle tomatillo sauce, sriracha, and steak sauce, which give the mix a peppery, savory, slightly smoky flavor, but some of your guests will want to get even more saucy. Because a few drops of your preferred sauce is how you really make a Bloody Mary your own. Our suggestions:
- Hot sauce selection: popular options include Tabasco, Cholula, Frank’s Red Hot, Tapatio, and Louisiana brands
- Worcestershire sauce
- Horseradish 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 more simple, 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
Create flavored ice cubes: Nobody likes a watery cocktail. So delight your guests with some flavored ice cubes for their Bloody Marys! You can freeze Toma in an ice cube tray ahead of time, or even make flavored ice cubes like Cucumber-Basil or another favorites.
Make it themed: As is befitting such a delicious and flexible cocktail, the Bloody Mary has been customized to feature a wide range of regional and ethnic flavors. Whether you’re hosting a themed party or just prefer certain spices and garnishes, this is a fun way to add another creative layer to your MYOBM bar. Some ideas:
- Japanese-inspired: Wasabi powder, Soy sauce, Fresh ginger
- Cajun-inspired: Pickled okra, Pickled jalapenos, Cajun seasoning blend
- Mediterranean: Sherry, Olive tapenade, Cucumber spears
- Michelada: Beer (get our recipe here!)
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 liquors that’s accessible yet caters to diverse preferences:
- Vodka – The classic. (You can infuse your own with pickled vegetables or lemons and limes!)
- Tequila or Mezcal – The Bloody Maria
- Gin – The Red Snapper
- Whiskey – The Bloody Lawrence (Whiskey is increasingly popular at trendy cocktail bars, and has its own Bloody Mary-specific enthusiasts.)
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 will make your bar your own! However you design and dress your setup, turn to Toma as the versatile base that will elevate everyone’s cocktails and, as a result, the entire party.