How to Build the Best-Ever Bloody Mary Bar
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.
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.
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
For a quick breakfast, Norna makes the pancake while fixing supper the night before, then cuts it into squares. The next morning, she tops them with butter and syrup before placing them in the microwave. This innovative way to make pancakes takes most of the fuss out of making breakfast. Norna Detig – Lindenwood, Illinois
This versatile dish can be made as a entree, brunch or potluck dish. It’s also one of the easiest meals to assemble on a busy weeknight. —Kallee Krong-McCreery, Escondido, California
More of a dessert than breakfast food, these luscious pancakes really know how to showcase the darlings of summertime—strawberries! Both the sauce and cream cheese filling feature fresh, ripe berries. —Shirley Warren, Thiensville, Wisconsin
What’s better than eggs mixed with bacon and cheese over a fluffy crust and topped with hollandaise sauce? You also can use egg whites instead of yolks if you like. —Gidget Gorgone, Mableton, Georgia
Hash browns make a fabulous crust for these individual egg quiches. They look fancy but are actually easy to make. They’ve been a hit at holiday brunches and other special occasions.—Kate Meyer, Brentwood, Tennessee
With mustard, maple syrup and prosciutto, this is a yummy twist on the usual bacon-and-egg sandwich. Your family will agree that this is one breakfast worth waking up for!—Erin Renouf Mylroie, Santa Clara, Utah
These individual treats are a delightful twist on French toast that make any morning special. “I made this recipe for my mom last Mother’s Day, and we both enjoyed it,” says Sandi Tuttle of Hayward, Wisconsin.
This isn’t your typical egg bake! I serve this robust casserole of eggs, Italian sausage and fire-roasted tomatoes in bowls with warm, crusty rolls spread with butter. —Shelly Bevington-Fisher, Hermiston, Oregon
My baking therapy is to make treats for friends and co-workers. This pull-apart bread makes everyone smile as they face a busy day. —Vickie Friday Martin, Scroggins, Texas
My tart is adapted from my mom’s quiche recipe. She lives thousands of miles away from me in the UK, so whenever I make it, happy memories of home come flooding back. —Paula Nolan, Granite Bay, California
I’m always looking for healthier ways to incorporate my chocolate addiction into every meal. I’ve made this with peanut butter chips with bananas, and white chocolate and mint chocolate chips with raspberries.—Rachel Strong, Moseley, Virginia
I get a kick out of making breakfast for a crowd when I have weekend guests, and my family also loves breakfast for dinner. I created this dish by combining my family’s favorite southwest flavors in an all-in-one-pan recipe.—Whitney Gilbert, Smithville, Missouri
After my in-laws began affectionately referring to me as a “Yankee,” I decided I needed to learn to make a few Mexican dishes. These rancheros are super easy and make my Tex-Mex-loving family happy—even if they do come from a Northerner. —Darla Andrews, Schertz, Texas
My husband is big on eggs and bacon, so I wanted to merge his breakfast favorites with a grilled burger for an over-the-top treat. Topping it with my homemade blackberry jam sealed the deal. —Tina Janssen, Walworth, Wisconsin
This sweet and savory hash certainly won’t leave you hungry. The sausage, veggies and eggs fill you up, and the hint of maple syrup makes it all feel extra cozy. —Colleen Delawder, Herndon, Virginia
Start your day with a smile. This fruit, yogurt and granola parfait is so easy to make. You can also use whatever favorite fresh fruit is in season and looking best at the supermarket. —Diana Laskaris, Chicago, Illinois
Growing up on chorizo and egg burritos, I decided it was time for a remake. In the morning when I make coffee, I pop this in the oven and an hour later, breakfast is ready! —Relina Shirley, Reno, Nevada
I know I can always feel good about eating this healthy parfait for dessert! I enjoy the extra kick of cinnamon stirred in with the vanilla yogurt before layering.—Jennifer Warner, Huntertown, Indiana
This frittata has the classic ingredients of a Denver omelet—peppers, onion and ham—along with potatoes to make it extra hearty. It’s the perfect brunch dish to serve company after church or another early outing. —Connie Eaton, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
A friend gave me this burrito casserole recipe and I modified it to fit our family. It’s perfect for a brunch, because you can prep it the night before and bake it the next morning. —Krista Yoder, Due West, South Carolina
One of my favorite brunch dishes is eggs Benedict. While I adore the traditional version, I also have fun using other flavors. This is my Italian take using a semi-homemade creamy pesto sauce.—Jenn Tidwell, Fair Oaks, California
I like the combination of ginger, pineapple and macadamia nuts, plus this dish brings back memories of an island vacation.—Roxanne Chan, Albany, California
I shared this impressive strata with friends at their new home. For your special occasions, change up the veggies and cheese. I’ve used tomatoes, spinach and cheddar. —Kim Forni, Laconia, New Hampshire
This hash full of red potatoes, sweet potatoes and sausage brightens up any day. We spread the love throughout the week and pile leftovers into burritos and casseroles. —Jamie Burton, Highlands Ranch, Colorado
I took up eating quinoa when I found out how much protein it has. This is really an easy dish to experiment with; my first version of the recipe was made with shredded apples instead of blueberries. It’s just as delicious! —Shannon Copley, Upper Arlington, Ohio
My son, Gus, is a lover of all things ham-and-eggs, so I created this comforting stuffed bread with him in mind. I later added tomatoes to the recipe, and he still gives it a big thumbs-up. —Karen Kuebler, Dallas, TX
Trying to come up with something new for breakfast on the run, I thought this was an interesting way to combine the whole meal. If you want to get fancy, these are great with Hollandaise on top and sprinkled with paprika.—Barb Miller, Oakdale, Minnesota
I make breakfast casseroles with whatever I have, like spinach, sweet red pepper and cheddar. With this puff, we like a burst of flavor from Greek vinaigrette. —Angela Robinson, Findlay, Ohio
When our son was growing up, this was one of his favorite breakfasts. I’ve used low-fat ingredients in the past with good results, too.—Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
These delicious enchiladas are equally good made with cubed ham or sausage. Prepare ahead, refrigerate, and bake when ready for a convenient breakfast twist. —Deb LeBlanc, Phillipsburg, Kansas
There are so many ways to experiment with eggs Benedict, and this is my favorite version. The earthy flavors of mushroom and spinach blend beautifully in this new twist on an old classic. —Elizabeth Dumont, Madison, Mississippi
Baked sweet potatoes aren’t just for dinner anymore. Top them with breakfast favorites to power up your morning. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
My family loves bruschetta, so why not have it for breakfast? This gives us a healthy start to the morning, and takes very little effort. You get all the traditional flavors, and with egg added, it makes a great meal. —Kallee Krong-McCreery, Escondido, California
I love this recipe because on Sunday mornings I like to take it easy but I still want my family to have a great breakfast. This allows me to sleep in and feel like I’m a great Mom at the same time. Win!—Alynn Hansen, Mona, Utah
The churro stand is always the first stop my family makes at the county fair. This is an easy way to enjoy the cinnamon-sugar goodness at home.—Kelly Silvers, Edmond, Oklahoma
Sun-dried tomatoes and sausage add lots of texture and flavor to this gooey casserole. We’ve even enjoyed it reheated after a night game at our local college. It’s always a winner in my book. —Nancy Murphy, Mount Dora, Florida
My kids love homemade banana bread, so why not make it in pancake form? These freeze well for a special breakfast any day. —Ally Billhorn, Wilton, Iowa
It’s a challenge to be creative with breakfast every morning, and I like to come up with fun foods the kids will love. This is a great recipe for the kids to join in and help make for breakfast. You can also make and freeze it before you add the eggs, then finish baking another day. —Melissa Pelkey Hass, Waleska, Georgia
My chewy fiber bars with a complex taste are extremely addictive. For clean slices, spray a pizza cutter with cooking spray before cutting.—Richard Cole, Richmond, Texas
Cranberries and apples are tart enough to balance the sweetness in this hearty dish that’s fun for an after-presents breakfast on Christmas morning. —Betsy King, Duluth, Minnesota
This recipe means that a delectable dinner is ready when I walk in the door from work. The meatless slow cooker meal also makes an elegant brunch for lazy weekend mornings. —Connie Eaton, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
I like my food pretty, and this breakfast pizza is eye-popping. Bring it to the table with a bowl of berries or grapes and café au lait. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia
I created this recipe for a breakfast-for-dinner meal one day, and now it’s become a favorite on chilly mornings. Such a wonderful aroma! Using extra-sharp cheddar cheese instead of the milder types allows you to use less, while giving you an extra boost of flavor. —Lisa Renshaw, Kansas City, Missouri
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