We love a cocktail party, in case you hadn't noticed. We love them so much, that we don't think you should have to limit yourself to having them in the evening. How can you host a brunch cocktail party without looking like a total lush? Behold: the Bloody Mary Bar.
The Bloody Mary is one of our favorite cocktails for a few reasons -- 1) you get to drink them in daylight hours, 2) they hit all the savory, salty, briny notes we love and 3) just think of all the vitamins you're consuming by basically drinking a salad!
But a Bloody Mary can be a time consuming cocktail that requires a lot of tinkering. Some people want theirs to be a salt bomb. Some prefer theirs to be fiery hot. How to solve this conundrum without running yourself ragged, while still making sure everyone gets their drink? Build a Bloody Mary bar and let your friends mix their own!
Here are the components that we think are essential (or just really fun). Since everyone likes their salad cocktails differently, you can pick and choose your favorite versions when you build your own.
Obviously, this is a major part of any Bloody Mary Bar. We prefer straight up tomato juice to pre-made mixes, but definitely feel free to play around with V8, Clamato or other tomato-based concoctions. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/liberato/148947303/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">liber</a></em>
Most people have only had a Bloody Mary made with vodka. While tradition is fine, we prefer ours made with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-sachs/best-bourbons-kentucky-derby_b_558638.html" target="_hplink">bourbon</a> or gin (we know it sounds crazy, but one taste will make you a believer). Have a range of liquors on hand to experiment with and don't be afraid to throw in a curveball like aquavit. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/grepsy/6913717451/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">grepsy</a></em>
Obviously salt and black pepper are a must in any Bloody Mary. We also like to have celery salt, chile powder, garlic powder and smoked paprika on hand. Also, we can't leave out the liquid flavor bomb itself - Worcestershire Sauce. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/islandgyrl/6923468576/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Chrissy Olson</a></em>
The importance of citrus in a Bloody Mary can not be under-stated. It just has to be there, preferably lots of it. Be sure to have plenty of lemon and lime wedges ready for squeezing. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ksayer/5452373606/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Ksayer1</a></em>
Never leave out the horseradish, but also mix it up with other choices -- wouldn't wasabi be fantastic in a Bloody Mary? We also like to have a range of hot sauces on hand: from Tabasco to Sriracha, Cholula to Frank's Red Hot (we really love hot sauce). <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevensnodgrass/5480665570/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Steve Snodgrass</a></em>
A celery stalk is traditional, but we also think a cool cucumber spear has its place in a Bloody. Carrot sticks, a zucchini spear, we could go on forever. Also (we know it's really a fruit) a toothpick with a few avocado cubes on it would be lovely. <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/preppybyday/5076908724/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">TheCulinaryGeek</a></em>
Lots of Bloody Drinkers like a dill pickle speared into their cocktail, but don't stop there! Green olives, pickled greenbeans, okra, carrots, caperberries -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/gails-spicy-bloody-mary-_n_1059835.html" target="_hplink">anything you can pickle</a> tastes delicious in a Bloody Mary (KIMCHI, guys). True pickle lovers also like to add a shot of pickle juice to their tomato base.
Okay -- we're getting into experimental territory here. Milwaukee's <a href="http://www.thecometcafe.com/" target="_hplink">The Comet Cafe</a> famously serves their Bloody Mary with a bacon swizzle, and we like their style. Or order up some of these crazy <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/14/beef-jerky-straws_n_1776131.html" target="_hplink">beef jerky straws</a> and watch your friends freak out.
Want some serious wow-factor on your bar? Spear some <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/bloody-mary-with-shrimp_n_1049218.html" target="_hplink">small cooked shrimp on toothpicks</a>, or even a raw, pickled, or smoked oyster. Seafood is a great complement to the flavors in a Bloody Mary, and it will help reveal which of your friends are the most adventurous eaters.
It's no secret that we love cheese, why keep it out of our Bloody Mary Bar? A toothpick with a cube of aged cheddar goes perfectly with your bacon swizzle stick. Want to get REALLY fancy? Rest a <a href="http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/diaryofafoodie/2007/01/fricos" target="_hplink">Parmesan frico</a> atop your glass for a crunchy snack between sips.
In some places, it's traditional to serve a beer sidecar with your Bloody Mary for refreshing in-between sips. If you can't find adorable shortie-sized bottles, just line up a few small juice glasses on the bar and divvy them up! <em>Photo via Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/erikkristensen/6174581561/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Erik Cleves Kristensen</a></em>
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