top of page

Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

Are you having a Halloween party? Let the vampires in your life build their own Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary Bars are quite popular these days. They are perfect for any gathering from football watching to brunch.

To set up your bar, find a location in or near the area where you will be entertaining that is large enough to accommodate the glasses, pitcher, vodka, ice bucket, and all the garnishes.

You will need to have vodka on hand, of course; or if you want to serve Bloody Marias, include tequila. Don’t worry about buying a top-shelf brand of vodka, as the Bloody Mary mix is so flavorful, it won’t matter. Put a jigger next to the vodka so your guests can measure out the amount they want to add. Some of your guests may prefer a Virgin Mary.

You can buy pre-made Bloody Mary mix or make your own. A recipe follows if you prefer making the mix from scratch. I personally like purchasing Horsetooth Hot Sauce® The Wake-Up Call. It has a real punch! For a nice presentation, serve your Bloody Mary mix in a clear glass pitcher.

Some of your guests may want to spice up their drink, so include bottles of Worcestershire® and Tabasco® sauces, a small bowl of horseradish sauce, and salt and pepper.

The fun of a Bloody Mary bar is the amazing array of garnishes you can add to your drink. I have included a list below but don’t feel tied to what I suggest. Get creative. I had a Bloody Mary in Virginia that was garnished with a fried oyster! You will need small bowls, plates, glasses, or Mason jars to serve the garnishes you have selected. Serving them individually prevents juices from pickles or other garnishes from intermingling. You can put the garnishes into serving containers ahead of time. Cover each container with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until just before your guests arrive. Be sure to have a bucket of ice on the bar. Nobody wants a warm Bloody Mary. Include toothpicks and bamboo grilling skewers so your guests can skewer the garnishes they have selected and place them in their drink. Don’t forget stirring sticks and cocktail napkins. You might want to have a place to dispose of shrimp tails. If you want to put a spicey rim around the glasses, a recipe follows. After rimming the glasses, place them on the serving table. Mason jars work well and add a more casual feel to the event.

To make your own Bloody Mary mix: Makes 12 cocktails

6 cups tomato or Clamato juice 3 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons lime juice 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce® ½ teaspoon Tabasco® sauce, or to taste ½ teaspoon prepared horseradish sauce, or to taste ½ teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste In a blender, place tomato juice, lemon and lime juices, Worcestershire® and Tabasco® sauces, horseradish sauce, garlic powder, and pepper and blend until smooth. Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate overnight so the flavors blend.

To rim the glasses: ¼ cup Old Bay Seasoning® 2 tablespoons salt Lime wedges

In a small bowl, combine Old Bay Seasoning® and salt. Transfer the seasoning mixture to a plate. Run a lime wedge around the rim of each glass. Dip glass into the seasoning mixture.

To make a Bloody Mary:

Ice Vodka Bloody Mary mix Worcestershire® sauce, to taste Tabasco® sauce, to taste Prepared horseradish sauce, to taste Salt, to taste Pepper, to taste

Fill rimmed glasses with ice. Add desired amount of vodka, then Bloody Mary mix. If you want to spice up the Bloody Mary mix you are serving, season to taste with Worcestershire® and Tabasco® sauces, horseradish sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir vigorously to combine. Garnish with the following:

Garnishes: The hardest part about garnishes is calculating how much to have on hand. You know your guests. Will they have one drink or two? Are any vegetarian and will avoid meats? Calculate the number of cocktails you think will be consumed. Plan on 1 celery stalk for each drink; 1 asparagus spear; 1 to 2 slices of bacon; 2 shrimp. When buying shrimp for a Bloody Mary bar, buy large shrimp. One pound of large shrimp should yield about 25 pieces. For the remainder of the garnishes, plan on 1 ½ pieces for each cocktail. I prefer blackened shrimp with my Bloody Mary, so a recipe follows. I also like to blanch my asparagus, so it is crisp-tender. I have included a recipe for that as well.

Celery stalks, with the leaves attached Bacon, fried crisp (I wouldn’t refrigerate the bacon. You want it warm.) Cocktail or blackened shrimp, shelled and deveined, with tails on Hard salami, sliced or cubed 1-inch thick Cheese cubes, 1-inch thick Pickles—dill spears, cornichons, or whole sweet gherkins Peppers—pepperoncini, peppadew, cherry, or banana Olives—blue-cheese, pimento, garlic-stuffed, or black Pickled baby corn Pickled green beans (I like Bolder® Beans. They come in hot or medium.) Pickled mushrooms (Bolder also makes a delicious, pickled mushrooms.) Cocktail onions Asparagus, fresh, blanched, or pickled Cherry tomatoes Lemon and lime wedges

To blacken shrimp: One pound of large shrimp should yield about 25 pieces.

For the blackening spice mix:

2 teaspoons salt 3 teaspoons paprika 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ¾ teaspoon white pepper ½ teaspoon large grind black pepper ¼ heaping teaspoon ground oregano ¼ heaping teaspoon ground thyme 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails on 2 tablespoons butter Place shrimp in a medium bowl. Add blackening spice mix to taste. Toss to coat evenly. In a large skillet, place butter over a medium heat. When it has melted, add shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, turning with tongs. Shrimp should be pink and not opaque, and their tails should curl when they are done.

To blanch asparagus: Using a sharp knife, trim off the woody ends. Fill a large kettle with water and bring the water to a boil over a high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it next to the kettle. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until it is bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. For thin spears, cook 2 ½ minutes. For thicker spears, you may need 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to the ice water for 1 minute. Drain asparagus and pat dry.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

0 views0 comments


bottom of page