DIY cocktail stations are a fun and interactive way of entertaining at home. Here’s how to build a DIY Bloody Mary bar to impress your guests.
The festive season will soon be upon us and with it comes catching up with friends and entertaining at home. It also means the silly season is ahead with a string of parties, outings and celebrations that are most likely to leave you with a hangover or three. In fact, it comes as no surprise that January 1 was chosen as National Bloody Mary Day.
Building a DIY Bloody Mary Bar is a fun and interactive way to entertain at home, be it a boozy brunch, a backyard BBQ or an excuse to get together with friends.
Pick a location where you can set up a long table with all the ingredients laid out and organise it so that your guests move along the various Bloody Mary stations in the order the drink is made. For the purpose of the DIY Bloody Mary Bar, your guests will be building the drink in the glass instead of shaking or rolling the drink.
Here’s what you need to build a DIY Bloody Mary Bar in the order of making the drink:
How to Build a DIY Bloody Mary Bar
1. Glassware and Salt
When it comes to glassware, highballs are best though you could also use tumblers and small, stemless wine glasses. Whichever ones you choose, start by rimming the glass.
Celery salt is a popular option but you can easily make flavoured salts to rim the glass. Combine sea salt with various spices such as smoked paprika, chilli powder and present them on small plates that fit the rim of the glassware you choose. Have lemon or lime wedges handy on an another plate to wet the rim of the glass.
The Bloody Mary is traditionally made with vodka but you can use other spirits such as gin (Red Snapper), tequila (Bloody Maria), peated whisky (Smoky Mary) Aquavit (Nordic Mary/Bloody Viking), Fino Sherry (Fino Mary), sake, as well as mezcal for smoke. You could even make a Poitin Bloody Mary if you dare. You can also infuse a spirit with flavour such as infusing vodka with chilli or jalapeños for an extra kick or fat washing vodka with bacon.
Have a jigger or two handy so that your guests can measure the right amount of spirit.
Your first choice is to go with ready-made tomato juice as it’s easily available. You can also use V8 vegetable juice or Clamato (tomato juice with clam juice and spices) to make a Bloody Caesar but remember that it’s thinner in texture than regular tomato juice.
You can also make your own Bloody Mary Mix by juicing together fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, cucumber, celery, capsicum and red chilli the day before. Add a little passata or concentrated tomato paste, season it with salt and pepper, and leave to chill in the fridge overnight.
4. Lemon/Lime Juice
Freshly-juiced lemon and lime juice are always best. They give an extra brightness and zing to the drink. Squeeze the lemon or lime juice directly into the glass or juice them just before guests arrive. You’ll also need to have some citrus on hand for garnishes.
5. Hot Sauce & Spices
The Bloody Mary is all about the punch it delivers so give your guests a few options. Hot sauces such as Tabasco, Sriracha, Cholula, Tapatio are a complementary addition which gives a good kick to the Bloody Mary. Other condiments include Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, horseradish, wasabi, balsamic vinegar, mustard, freshly-ground black pepper and Pepperberry Tincture.
Before you start on garnishes, give the drink a good stir with a barspoon and have plenty of ice on hand in an ice bucket with tongs for guests to help themselves.
Garnishing is where it can get a little crazy and fun at the same time. Celery stalks, lemon and lime wheels and wedges are a given but it pays to offer your guests a vast choice to let their creativity run wild. Here are some suggestions to get you started: cherry tomatoes, crispy bacon, stuffed olives, pickled vegetables such as gherkins, cooked prawns, oysters, crab claw, pickled onions, jalapeños, capsicum strips, cucumber, large caperberries, hard boiled eggs, radishes, cheese cubes – the rest is up to your imagination. Don’t forget the garnish picks.
Below is a classic Bloody Mary recipe which you may like to have handy on the day. It uses the rolling technique but you can also build the drink in the glass.
Bloody Mary Recipe
- 60 ml spirit (such as vodka, gin, tequila, mezcal)
- 120 ml tomato juice
- 15 ml freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
- 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- 3 dashes of hot sauce
- pinch of sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Rim the glass by using a lime or lemon wedge to moisten the rim then dipping it in a shallow plate with flavoured salt.
You can shake the Bloody Mary in a cocktail shaker but rolling the drink maintains the texture without too much dilution. Add your chosen spirit such as vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire and hot sauce into a glass over ice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roll the mixture between two glasses. Strain into a highball glass and garnish to your taste.
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