Spring is the perfect time for a casual brunch with friends. And what better to serve with all of our favorite breakfast dishes than a savory, ice-cold Bloody Mary? Prepare a few comforting brunch dishes this weekend, and set up a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar on the side for a creative twist friends will love — our recipes and tips will show you how.
A good vodka is the foundation of a great Bloody Mary, so pick a high-quality brand you really enjoy. Infused vodkas can also make a fun addition to the bar — look for complementary flavors, like a pepper or citrus version. For additional options, offer guests alternative liquors. Tequila and gin can make delicious Bloody Marys, and they’re perfect for people who may not like vodka.
A prepared mix makes it simple to serve Bloody Marys to a crowd. Be sure to choose one with good ingredients like real tomatoes, horseradish and spices for the best flavor. If you’re making the drinks from scratch, you’ll need a few essentials like tomato juice, lemon and lime juice, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix everything together in a pitcher, and keep it simple; a basic mix makes an ideal starting point for guests, who can add their favorite flavorings and extras as they make their own Bloody Marys. See our recipe below.
Here’s where the customization comes in! Since different people prefer different levels of heat and smoke, offer an assortment of spices and other condiments. Paprika, cayenne, celery salt and chili powder are classic Bloody Mary seasonings, but feel free to play around with others that might work, like Spanish pimenton. Give guests the option to rim their glasses — sea salt, celery salt, and Old Bay are flavorful touches.
For many of us, no Bloody Mary is complete without a kick of hot sauce. Tabasco and Cholula are always welcome, but you can also try sriracha or another international hot sauce, like North African harissa. Some recipes also include special ingredients, such as clam juice or balsamic vinegar, so include them on the bar if you have them on hand.
A skewer of delicious nibbles is the perfect topping to a Bloody Mary — just think of it as an hors d’oeuvre in a glass. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few of our favorite suggestions:
- Raw fruits and veggies: wedges of lemon and lime, celery ribs, radishes, cucumber
- Pickled vegetables: Bread and butter pickles, pickled okra, green beans, beets, giardiniera
- Meats, cheeses & more: cubed cheese, cured meats, bacon, boiled shrimp
1 lemon, halved
4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l.) tomato juice
2 tsp. freshly grated horseradish
2 tsp. A1 Steak Sauce or Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml.) vodka
6 celery ribs with leaves
6 long, thin radish slices
Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves into a large pitcher. Add the tomato juice, horseradish, A1 sauce, celery salt, cayenne, paprika, and a few grinds of black pepper and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the vodka and stir to combine.
Fill 6 rocks glasses or tumblers with ice and pour the vodka mixture over the ice, dividing it evenly. Garnish with the celery ribs and radish slices and serve. Serves 6.