How to Build the Best-Ever Bloody Mary Bar

Our favorite breakfast beverage is best served buffet-style. These Bloody Mary bar ideas are sure to have guests sipping for more.

When it comes to before-noon imbibing, Bloody Marys are our cocktail of choice, thanks to their fiery color, zippy flavor and surprising substantiality. But the best part? They’re totally customizable, whether you enjoy them mild or spicy, traditional or fully loaded, subtle or strong.

This ability to be tailored makes the Bloody Mary the perfect adult beverage to put on your brunch menu, so guests can fill their glass to their liking. For a truly unforgettable Bloody Mary bar, follow these three simple steps.

(Now that we think about it, all of these breakfast drinks are delish.)

Bloody Mary Garnish Close Up

Mix It Up

There might be a number of pre-made Bloody Mary mixes on the market, but we’re all for a from-scratch cocktail. For a mild base, you can’t go wrong this classic Bloody Mary recipe, which combines tomato, lime and lemon juices, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, a tasty blend of seasonings and, of course, that must-have splash of hot sauce.

Once your tomato-juice mixture is squared away, you’re finished for the time being. Excluding vodka will allow partygoers to top off their drinks with as much—or as little—booze as they desire. Plus, if you’re feeling extra crafty, you’ll want to serve some homemade bacon-, jalapeno- or pickle-infused vodka, which will prompt yet another decision for people to make for themselves.

And because not all brunchers prefer the same level of spiciness, we recommend offering a selection of hot sauces (find out our taste test winners) so your guests can doctor up their concoctions how they want.

Check out our favorite Sriracha recipes.

Bloody Mary Ingredient Ideas

Garnish Galore

Now, the fun part. One of the best-loved Bloody Mary perks is that, if done right, they’re essentially an entire meal packed into (and on top of) a single glass. Include classic garnishes, like celery and pickles, but also impress friends with more outrageous options such as shrimp, olives, cheeses, tomatoes, pickles, jalapeno slices and bacon.

To really wow guests—and satisfy big eaters, set out a plate of sliders (like one of these delicious bite-sized sandwich recipes) to skewer and place atop your sippers. Or, to bring the booziness up a notch, offer a Wisconsin-style Bloody, which includes a small glass of light beer to enjoy as a chaser.

Set the Bar…High

All your ingredients are ready for devouring, but a fun yet functional display is what takes a Bloody Mary bar from good to great. As with most buffets, you’ll want your glasses, ice and straws on one end and the rest of the fixings following in sequential order: salt for rims, Bloody Mary mix, alcohol, hot sauce and other flavorings, and the garnishes. (Don’t forget the skewers! Either metal or soaked wooden ones will work.)

To make things more straightforward for your guests, consider setting out a letter board (like this one!) with simple instructions. Lastly, spice up your set-up with decorative dishes (we’re obsessed with this super-clever pitcher) and cute utensils for a can’t-be-beat bar. Cheers to that!

Next up: Bloggers’ top brunch secrets.

Now Follow It up with One of These Brunch Favorites
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Annamarie Higley
Annamarie is Taste of Home’s Shopping Editor and previously worked on the brand’s magazine and special issues. It was during this time she tapped into her love language, gifts, and spearheaded the print holiday gift guides in 2021 and 2022. She’s thrilled to continue creating gift guides full time for the shopping team, in addition to testing and reviewing products, spotlighting viral gadgets and editing freelanced content. A midwestern transplant from the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys hiking, crafting and—you guessed it!—shopping and cooking.